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Old 01-14-2008, 10:14 AM
333 posts, read 1,948,861 times
Reputation: 136


I saw a thread about having septic tanks pumped..but I was wondering..what exactly are you NOT supposed use with a septic tank..

We just moved into a new home with a septic tank. The home is 4 years old. It was already pumped and we had a septic inspection before we moved in and everything looked good.

I have asked around about what I should do differently now that I have a septic tank..and everyone tells me that they still do the same things and never have had a problem. I have been told it's fine to flush tampons, it's fine to do a bunch of laundry, it's fine to use 2 ply toilet paper...etc.

We have no clue about septic tanks..I am a five person family and we do a lot of laundry . Is that ok? I am hoping that spreading it out a bit helps?

Also, we have a garbage disposal. The owners before us said it was fine. We use some chemical that helps break down the food and it is supposed to work wonderfully. But, my husband and I are very nervous about it...so we still scrape all of our food into the garbage and just rinse off our dishes.

But, i have also seen people mention..that I should have a front loader washing machine, that I should only use certain detergents...and certain hand soaps??

Thanks so much guys!!
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Old 01-14-2008, 10:51 AM
Location: On the plateau, TN
15,205 posts, read 11,629,240 times
Reputation: 10010
Some good info here ---->How to Care for Your Septic Tank and Septic System
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Old 01-14-2008, 01:58 PM
28,005 posts, read 60,686,397 times
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Good Link... thanks for posting
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Old 01-14-2008, 06:04 PM
4,282 posts, read 15,328,934 times
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Here's my biggest concern:

I am a five person family and we do a lot of laundry
Simply put, a septic tank is a tank in the ground which has a pipe running into it from your house. At the other end of the tank is another pipe, located lower on the tank wall, which allows liquid to leave the tank and go to the leach bed. The leach bed is a series of perforated pipes laid in a bed of gravel. When liquid from your septic tank reaches the leach bed, it disperses into the gravel through the holes in the weeping pipes. Solids which are dumped into your septic tank settle to the bottom, are reduced somewhat by bacterial action, and eventually need to be pumped out.

You need to keep in mind when doing laundry that your leach bed can only absorb so much liquid over a given time period. If you put too much liquid into your septic tank in a short amount of time, you can saturate the gravel bed surrounding the weeping tiles. This can lead to surface pooling of liquid.

Every leach bed is different due to age, previous use, type of gravel used, etc. . Leach bed capacity is also affected by weather; heavy rains can add moisture to the ground which can reduce leach bed capacity.

If you plan on doing a lot of laundry, it wouldn't be a bad idea to space your loads out over a few days. Doing 2 loads a day three times a week is better for your leach bed than doing six loads in a single day.

If you use a lot of bleach in your laundry, you might want to consider using a septic tank additive that helps add bacteria back to the tank.

Of course, dumping items like paint, solvents, etc, down your drain is a no-no regardless of whether your on a septic tank or a minuicipal system.
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Old 01-14-2008, 07:44 PM
Location: Northglenn, Colorado
3,689 posts, read 10,096,845 times
Reputation: 970
dont let your kids play where the leach field is lol..... it can get ugly.
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Old 01-14-2008, 08:49 PM
Location: Sometimes Maryland, sometimes NoVA. Depends on the day of the week
1,501 posts, read 11,462,678 times
Reputation: 1133
A good leach field shouldn't be ugly. The water goes down, not up. If its going up, you may have a problem.

Don't flush tampons! They never break down. Our septic guy calls them "sewer mice." I highly recommend a Diva Cup, but its not for the faint of heart.
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Old 01-15-2008, 10:32 AM
Location: DC Area, for now
3,517 posts, read 12,876,008 times
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You can do all those things people do on city sewer systems but you are going to make your septic system last less long or possibly fail. You will need more frequent pump outs of the tank.

Rules for a long lasting healthy septic system:

Don't use the garbage disposal. Set up a compost and let the vegetable matter turn back into soil. If you have a septic, you have a fair amount of yard so this should not be hard to do. Animal waste should go into the garbage. Some people do set up their garbage disposal to drain into a bucket so the stuff is chewed up. Then dump it into the garden or compost for faster rotting away.

Toilet paper and human waste are fine. Tampons and such should go into the trash.

Don't put cat litter down the toilet.

Don't use chlorine bleach, period. Septics work using bacteria and anything that kills bacteria is a bad thing. Look on the labels and only use cleaning products that say septic system safe or learn the joys of using vinegar, baking soda, washing soda, and borax. If something really needs chlorine bleach, use it in a bucket, and rinse it before washing it. Dump the chlorine water on your lawn (not the compost as that also needs bacteria).

Try to get away from antibacterial soaps and detergents. You do not need them and the chemicals in them are not good for you, the septic, or the environment. Tests have repeatedly shown that simple water and a clean cloth (not sponges - they are a petri dish) cleaning house surfaces so they are visibly clean also remove 95% of all bacteria. Add any sort of non-antibacterial surfactant (this would be soap, baking soda, vinegar, etc) removes 99% of the bacteria. This is plenty clean enough for a clean and healthy house. Only surgery needs 100% and the antibacterial products do not clean to 100%.

You can use the dishwasher. Just use septic safe detergent and get the chunks of food off and put into the compost.

It is a good idea to spread out the major water and detergent loads. Adding the yeast and bacteria additives will do no harm, but it has never been shown that they actually do any good either. Typically, the human waste will have plenty of bacteria in it to replenish a septic system if you aren't putting a killing load on it. They are sized according to the number of people in the house. So, if you have a 2 bedroom house and put 5 people in, then it would probably be undersized. But a 4 bedroom for 5 people would be sized correctly.

These simple changes will not make much difference in your life but will help the septic system a lot. I've had one for 20 years and it has never needed pumping. A healthy leach field does not get wet at the surface. If that happens, you have problems and need to get it fixed. If it smells like a sewer outside, you have problems.
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Old 01-15-2008, 12:13 PM
Location: Philaburbia
39,865 posts, read 70,539,154 times
Reputation: 64254
Even those of us connected to municipal sewer systems should pretend we have septic systems. The easier the job at the wastewater treatment plant, the cleaner overall our water supply stays.
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Old 01-15-2008, 06:36 PM
Location: West Michigan
654 posts, read 3,353,019 times
Reputation: 579
This is an interesting thread....I discovered that I have septic at my house as well, as with most rural areas they usually have them. Will be interesting to adjust to different water habits using such a system, which is a good thing.

I have been reading via some research that they make a garbage disposal unit that is septic safe by liqueifing the food bits before going to the tank.

My house is a 3 bedroom home at 1,283 sq. ft. but I am unsure about the capacity of the septic tank, and most likely may need to get it inspected and possibly pumped since the home has been vacant for several years.
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Old 01-15-2008, 11:56 PM
Location: Holly Springs
3,995 posts, read 10,457,450 times
Reputation: 3292
it should be pumped just to be on the safe side if nothing else. typical cycle is a family of 5 every 3-4 years.
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