Septic system?


In homes with garbage disposals, jetted (whirlpool) baths and/or water softeners that also have a septic or other private on-site sewage disposal systems, special care must be taken to prevent overburdening the system.

    • Garbage disposals. A garbage disposal can be a nice feature in any kitchen, but regular use can more than double the amount of harmful grease and solids over what would typically flow into a septic system. While the disposal grinds kitchen scraps into small pieces, they can still contribute to the buildup of scum and sludge in the tank.

      Waste materials in a septic tank are normally broken down by bacterial action, but most of the solids must eventually be pumped out of the tank. The extra solid matter introduced into the tank when using a disposal, means it must be pumped more frequently to avoid problems. To help compensate for the presence of a garbage disposal, most codes specify an increase in the minimum septic tank size. But even with a larger tank, limiting the use of the disposal is a wise practice.

    • Jetted baths. Another nice addition to any house is a jetted bath. Whether used for relaxation or therapy, the soothing, swirling waters of a jetted bath are welcomed by homeowners. Unfortunately, the water that drains from a large bath can overburden your septic system. Emptying large amounts of water from a draining bath can stir the solids in the tank, carrying them along with the water into the drainfield, saturating and eventually clogging the soil in the drainfield. To minimize problems, drain the bath slowly.
    • Water Softeners. Unlike garbage disposals and jetted baths, water softeners are a necessity in some homes to correct the presence of “hard” water (with a high mineral content) that can clog lines in appliances and old piping and cause other problems. But water treatment systems such as water softeners can pump hundreds of gallons of water into a septic system all at once. This can agitate the solids, which along with excess water flow into the drainfield.

      In addition the regular backwashing required to regenerate the softener flushes salts into the septic system. There is also some concern that the salt solution used in the treatment process can affect the normal breakdown of solids in the septic tank or reduce the absorption rate of the soil in the drainfield. A plumbing professional may be able to provide alternatives to help limit the discharge of the extra water and salts into your septic.

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