How do septic systems work?
Septic systems work to change the raw sewage from your house into an environmentally safe discharge that is absorbed into the soil where it is installed. This process is a natural bacterial reaction that begins in the septic tank with micro-organisms attacking and breaking down the sewage before it is drained into the leach field. The effluent in the leach field is again processed by “good” bacteria as the water slowly drains through the septic rocks in the field and absorbed into the native soil in the yard. This process continually works to restore the drain water back to environmentally safe uncontaminated levels.
Can additives help the bacteria process?
You may have seen advertisements for septic additives claiming to increase the active bacteria in your system. We have found no evidence in the field or in scientific literature that confirms those claims and generally most studies conclude that there is no need for these additives in a functioning system. On the other hand, using disinfectants and harsh chemicals that are then washed into the septic system can diminish the bacterial levels in your system and slow the natural process. Using more natural cleaning products, restricting disposal of grease and other slow degrading products, and pumping the septic tank on an annual or bi-annual schedule all help to prolong the effectiveness of the tank.
By keeping in mind that your septic system is processing water continually, that nature has an efficient way of restoring itself, and that your septic system is designed to work for several years with conscientious use, you will be able to enjoy your home for years to come.
How can I learn more about this?
For more information on maintenance of your septic system check out the resources below:
- US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- “How to Care For Your Septic System”
- Home Owners Guide to Septic Systems
- Do’s and Don’ts For Advanced Septic Systems
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