One of the most important things you can do as a homeowner with a septic system is to learn what you shouldn’t be flushing or dumping down the drain. The wrong products can very easily damage the entire system, leading directly to costly repairs.
A little bit of knowledge is all it takes to save a lot of money in the future.
Why What You Flush Matters
Most people don’t pay any attention to what they flush, mainly because they don’t understand why they can’t just flush whatever they want. The root of this problem has to do with how a septic system works.
While it’s true that you can clog pipes, this is also true of any drainage system. The reason that septic systems are more restrictive has to do with what happens once materials reach the actual septic tank.
Everything that drains from your house collects in the same tank, including all liquid and solid products. Liquids are relatively straightforward to process, but solid material must be broken down by beneficial bacteria.
This bacteria is responsible for handling everything from human waste and toilet paper to food scraps that make their way down the kitchen drain. It is remarkably efficient at what it does, but there is a delicate balance that can be easily disrupted.
Some products are simply too big or made out of the wrong materials to be broken down by the bacteria. Other products will actually kill off the bacteria colony, meaning your tank won’t be able to process anything.
When this happens, septic system failure is the result more often than not.
What Not To Flush
The following is a list of some of the most common items that find their way into septic systems that you should avoid…
- Harsh chemicals (bleach, ammonia, excess levels of detergents)
- Coffee grounds
- Large quantities of fat or cooking oil
- Drugs, medicines, pills, etc…
- Disposable wipes, wet wipes, etc…
- Pool chemicals
- Paper towels
- Dirt (from vacuum cleaners, brooming, etc…)
- Female hygiene products
- Cat litter
Be wary of products that claim to be septic system friendly. Many of these products aren’t as harmless as they would want you to believe. Do a quick search for any product that you are unsure of, as almost everything has been tested (accidentally or on-purpose) by other people before you. Learn from their mistakes!