Can I use Drano if I have a septic Tank?

Can You Use Drano If You Have a Septic Tank at Home?

Wise homeowners will pause before dumping certain items down the drain. A septic system is actually a complex system that utilizes healthy bacteria to break down organic household wastewater and releases the treated water through the soil. Thoughtless disposal of some items into your drains could cause extensive damage to your septic system, and harm the environment in the process.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA), has some general guidelines about caring for your septic system that homeowners may find helpful. They can be accessed at the following link: How to Care for Your Septic System

Here are a few items specifically mentioned in the EPA article that you should avoid flushing or putting down the drain:

  • Cooking grease or oil
  • Non-flushable wipes, such as baby wipes or other wet wipes
  • Photographic solutions
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Condoms
  • Dental floss
  • Diapers
  • Cigarette butts
  • Coffee grounds
  • Cat litter
  • Paper towels
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Household chemicals like gasoline, oil, pesticides, antifreeze, and paint or paint thinners

Grease should never be poured or flushed down residential drains. Period.

See my blog article…”What would cause a septic tank to back up?”

What about drain cleaners?

Drano and other similar cleaners operate on a simple principle:

Create a chemical reaction toxic enough to eat away whatever may be blocking the pipes…hair, grease, or grandma’s missing false teeth.

The good side of Chemicals:

This actually does work in some cases. The chemical reaction caused by the lye and sodium chloride, and the fine aluminum powder can actually eat through some pretty tough stuff.

The bad side of Chemicals:

The chemical reaction is powerful enough to have unintended side effects, leading to costly consequences, including but not limited to:

  • Damaged toilets
  • Damaged pipes
  • Glue eaten out of joints in piping

This toxic recipe, once it has drained into your septic tank, begins wreaking all kinds of havoc in the delicate ecosystem inside your septic system.

Remember I said, “Your septic system is actually a complex system which utilizes healthy bacteria to break down organic household wastewater, and releases the treated water through the soil.”

Introducing drain cleaning chemicals into your septic tank is like using bleach in your washing machine…or spraying gasoline on your yard for fertilizer…or used engine oil for icing on a chocolate cake…you get the picture, it’s a bad idea. A really bad idea.

Drain cleaners, bleach, salt, paint or paint thinner, gasoline, or other toxic liquids will kill the bacteria in your septic tank, and could even sterilize the bacteria in the leach field in extreme cases. This could result in an expensive rehabilitation project, or even leach field replacement in an extreme case.

While drain cleaners may seem like a great way to fix a clogged line, they likely will end up costing you money in the long run.

Call Shankster Bros. today for all of your water line cleaning needs!

Can You Have a Garbage Disposal With a Septic Tank?

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!

Can Septic Tank Additives Do More Harm Than Good?

Can Septic Tank Additives Do More Harm Than Good?

Bottom line: nothing is as good for your septic system upkeep as regular professional pumping, inspection, and maintenance. However, some homeowner-directed, off-the-shelf septic tank additives can help your septic system maintain a basic level of health and performance, in certain circumstances.

We suggest that you only use a hardware store/DIY additive if you’ve already checked with a professional septic inspector, and never to treat an active septic tank emergency.

That said, here are the key differences in your common homeowner additives:

Biological additives

Biological additives are made of natural compounds, usually packed with bacteria and enzymes. The idea for these additives is “insurance” for concerned septic owners, making sure that your system has the bacteria needed to function properly. But, unless your system has sat unused for several months, there isn’t a reason to add bacteria or enzymes, because your system is producing those elements naturally from the matter from your drainpipes.

Chemical additives

Chemical additives are what they sound like: chemicals used to break down solid matter and remove clogs. However, these chemicals are obviously not natural or organic and will impede the breakdown of the matter in your system with bacteria-killing chemicals. These artificial additives can also be harmful to your local environment and groundwater.

Basically, while it’s tempting to purchase a “cheap and easy” DIY solution at your local hardware store, you might be buying a placebo instead of a real asset to your system’s health. Septic systems are incredibly well-designed and should run smoothly with little interference, assuming they are used properly and cleaned on schedule. As always, check back on our past blog content for more best practices, tips, tricks, and solutions for common septic system questions.

The important thing to remember is that your septic system can last for many years, without any septic tank additives or headaches, if you care for it properly and stay aware of septic system health and maintenance. If you need to schedule septic tank cleaning, pumping, or inspection, don’t hesitate to call Shankster Bros. at any time.

Are Baking Soda and Vinegar Safe for Septic Systems?

baking soda

Are Baking Soda and Vinegar Safe for Septic Systems?

We get a lot of questions about cleaners and best practices in septic systems, and this one is easy – it’s an emphatic “yes!”

Baking soda and vinegar are safe

Baking soda and vinegar are safe and effective cleaners for your household drains and, best yet, they are 100% safe for your septic tank and drain field. Bleach and ammonia-based cleaners (i.e. most of the cleaning aisle at the big-box stores) can be harmful to the good bacteria in your septic tank.

But baking soda and vinegar will not kill the healthy bacteria in your tank, keeping your septic system working properly much longer and with less maintenance required.

How to use baking soda and vinegar

So, you might be wondering how to use baking soda and vinegar to clean in your home. Here are some of our favorite methods to use these effective and inexpensive cleaners for your kitchen and bathrooms:

Clogged drains are a real hassle. It’s important to watch for signs of a backed-up septic system, but if that’s not the case, you can use baking soda to unclog stubborn grime from your drains, which might be leading to slight backups. Mix a few tablespoons of baking soda with a cup or two of hot water (you can also add white vinegar for a bit more punch).

Pour down your drain, wait a few minutes for the mixture to work, and then try running hot water or using a plunger. It’s a great way to avoid the large expense of a plumber’s visit and the hassle of unusable drains – so try it first!

These work as a toilet bowl cleaner as well

Amazingly, these natural cleaners work as a toilet bowl cleaner as well! For this purpose, we recommend a mixture of baking soda and liquid castile soap. You may have heard of castile soap but might not know why it has a cult-like following. Many people swear by the cleaning powers of castile soap, and how non-toxic it is – remarkably, it’s a vegetable-based soap, free of animal fats and synthetic ingredients.

It’s biodegradable (great for septics!) and, fun fact: gets its name from the Castile region of Spain. To clean a toilet bowl, generously dust baking soda in the toilet bowl. Add a few drops of liquid soap and scrub with a sponge or cloth – you’ll be amazed at the sparkle you achieve in no time.

Baking soda works as a great scrubbing agent for sinks, showers, tubs, and counters. It’s a clean effective and powerful cleaner that will help get your house sparkling clean without hurting your septic system or requiring septic tank maintenance afterward.

Add simple white vinegar and liquid castile soap to your cleaning arsenal and you won’t even miss the harmful standard cleaners you used to use, most of which were slowly harming your septic system.

You don’t have to harm your septic tank

Cleaning our kitchens and bathrooms is a necessity, but you don’t have to harm your septic tank to do it. Thanks for reading, and as always, call us anytime with septic tank questions or to schedule a septic tank pumping or clean. We’re happy to help.