Why Septic Additives Don't Work

Some people swear by septic additives even though there is no scientific backing for using the additives. Knowing why the additives don't work can help maintain your septic system properly. Below is an overview of why these additives are a waste of resources.

How Septic Systems Work

To understand why septic additives don't work, you need to know how septic systems work. Wastes from the house, both solids and liquids, collect in the septic tank. Both the wastes from the house and the wastes in the septic tank contain bacteria. The bacteria feed on and break down the waste into different layers.

The bottom layer contains the solids, the middle layer has the liquid, and the top layer has scum (mostly fats). The middle layer, the liquid, passes through a series of processes and ends up getting dumped into the septic drain field as a harmless liquid.

How Additives Are Supposed to Work

Proponents of septic additives claim that the additives contain substances, such as bacteria or chemicals, which assist the bacteria in the septic tank to break down the wastes. They claim that the additives speed up the process, so untreated wastes don't stay in the septic system for long.

Why Additives Don't Work

The problem with additives is that at best, they won't do any harm or good. At worse, the additives can even interfere with the efficiency of the septic system. This is because the septic tank has all the billions of bacteria it needs to break down the wastes; adding bacteria to the mix won't change anything. Chemical additives, on the other hand, can harm the bacteria already in the tank. Thus, using chemical additives for your septic system will actually have the reverse effect of slowing down the decomposition of wastes in the tank.

What to Do Instead

Instead of relying on additives, you need to maintain your septic system and let it do the work. Ensure you don't introduce harmful substances into the septic tank and that you down overwhelm the system with wastes. Here are some specific measures that can help:

  • Limit water usage in the house
  • Don't flush unnecessary substances, which won't decompose, down the toilet
  • Pump your septic tank regularly
  • Limit your use of chemicals, such as household cleaners, on the wastewater that goes into the septic system

If you take care of your septic system, but it still develops problems, contact a septic cleaning service for advice. Don't resort to additives since that might just worsen the problem.


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