Septic System Additives Ineffective

| 11/29/2010 9:21:41 AM

Tags: septic systems, home maintenance,

Since the 1880s, septic system additives have been marketed as helpful in maintaining a working septic tank. And now, more than 120 additives are on the market claiming to keep tanks “trouble-free” by “breaking down organic waste.” However, research over the last 10 years has been sounding a very different note.

Many of these products contain bacteria and enzymes that are based on the idea that many household cleaning solvents reduce the effectiveness of the natural bacteria in septic systems, which causes them to need to be regenerated. And although some of these additives may prove to be a short-term help, they can cause problems that are even more expensive, inconvenient and time consuming to fix.

The Environmental Protection Agency says that “the use of septic system additives containing [bacteria, enzymes, yeasts and other fungi and microorganisms] additives is not recommended,” and that it could “interfere with treatment processes, affect biological decomposition of wastes, contribute to system clogging and contaminate ground water.”

Septic system maintenance may sound gross, but many of the ingredients found in commonly used additives can create a whole slew of even more disgusting problems that you can’t avoid fixing.

Research conducted at Washington State University found that the natural bacteria in a septic tank greatly exceed the number found in additives, which researchers said “provides little, if any, benefit in wastewater breakdown.”

In 1994, the Washington State Legislature, which banned the use, sale and distribution of septic tank additives the year before (unless specifically approved by the Department of Health), said that “Chemical additives do, and other types may, contribute to septic system failure and groundwater contamination.”

Chris Miller
11/30/2010 3:59:02 PM

I have been using the Septic-Helper 2000 for 20 years. It has the enzymes that work in the tank and out in the drain field. The EPA and State Law say that even a wet spot in your drain field could require replacement of your entire system at a cost of $30,000. Is it worth it to take that chance?

11/30/2010 6:40:31 AM

Actually, if your septic system is working properly, you shouldn't ever need to have it pumped. That is purpose of field lines.

Keith Karolyi
11/29/2010 9:06:48 PM

Thanks Anna! I was looking into whether should use an additive or not but now we're not even thinking about it! Thanks for bringing this up

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