Can You Have a Garbage Disposal With a Septic Tank?

Today we’re going to look at a topic that has haunted many rural homeowners for centuries… Garbage Disposals!

The modern garbage disposal was invented in the 1920s by a brilliant man in Wisconsin named John Hammes, who went on to create the brand known today as InSinkErator. This gentleman unwittingly created a masterpiece which in turn became the cornerstone for a century of bitter debates about the effects of Garbage Disposals on Septic Tanks, on Plumbing Piping, and on Wastewater Treatment Plants.

To use or not to use a garbage disposal, that is the question.

New York City banned the use of Garbage Disposals in the 1970s, fearing that if they were used widely, they might cause blockages of their sewer system. This rule survived until 1997 when studies proved that residential Garbage Disposals would not harm the city’s Treatment Works. Commercial Garbage Disposals, however, are still illegal today in New York City.

Throughout the years, controversy has raged among professionals over the use of kitchen sink Garbage Disposal devices.

There are two major downsides to Garbage Disposals.

The first is Fats, Oils, and Greases. Known in the Sewage Treatment world as FOG.

The fear among professionals is that having a garbage disposal will cause homeowners to dump lots of fats, oils, and greases down the drain via the Garbage Disposal. FOGs are harmful to septic tanks and to Municipal Treatment Plants alike. They slow down the breakdown of solids by handicapping the bacteria.

If you have a garbage disposal, and even if you don’t, one of the biggest things to remember is Never to dump any kind of Fats, Oils, or Greases down your drains! This is a sure way to harm your Septic Tank.

The second pitfall with Garbage Disposals is unavoidable “Waste”.

It is a fact that garbage disposals allow totally unprocessed raw waste to enter the septic tank without having been digested by the human body. This creates a lot of raw matter for the septic tank to break down. This raw waste is coming in without being accompanied by bacteria generated by the human body to help break it down.

Use of garbage disposals are not necessarily discouraged for Septic Tanks, but if you do use a garbage disposal, you should increase the frequency of your septic tank cleaning schedule to offset the increased inflow of undigested waste.

Many modern septic tank systems use effluent filters on the outlet of the septic tank. Homes using garbage disposals may notice the filter clogging more often than those without. Again, you will need to increase the frequency of your servicing of the septic tank systems and filter to compensate for the use of the Garbage Disposal.

Like your mom always tried to teach you,

Eat your food…clean up your plate…and whatever you do, DONT DUMP GREASE down the Drain!

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