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Anyone here on a septic tank system? (1 Viewer)

Kevin Alexander

Apr 17, 1999
My wife and I are slowly settling into our new home (not brand new, but new to us) and it's the first time we've ever been on a septic system. I've heard there are some do's and dont's associated with it and I'd appreciate some preventive maintenance tips that anyone has to head off a septic tank nightmare like a backup or something like that. How does a septic system work anyway? Also, what about those septic additives that they sell at the grocery store...should I buy those? I was also told that a package of yeast once a month down the drain will work as well. So what should I do?

Bruce Hedtke

Senior HTF Member
Jul 11, 1999
The septic tank itself holds the solid waste. The liquid waste is sent out of the tank to a leachfield, thus the primary use for a septic tank is to hold the solid waste until it needs to be pumped out. I haven't been on a septic system for years, but when I was, one of the best treatments to add was Liquid Plumber Organic. It's made up of natural enzymes that "dissolve" the solid waste and keep pipes clear. I'm not sure if it's still called that, but just look for something that contains enzymes and you should be alright.


Henry Gale

Senior HTF Member
Jul 10, 1999
Real Name
Henry Gale
The drainfield is a series of 4" pipes with a lot of holes in them. A common problem is roots growing into those pipes, so figure out where that area is and don't plant trees there.
If you're into color or printed toilet tissue, get over it. The inks are harder to break down, use white.
I've been here 17 years or so with no problems and I've yet to pour in any additives...your usage may vary however.


David Preston

Supporting Actor
Mar 23, 2003
I think it is not good to use bleach to clean with(shower,sinks, and toilet). It kills the bacteria in the tank that breaks down the waste. I put that stuff that supposed to help in bi-monthly. I'm taking their word that it works I'm not goona go look. Hopefully some more people will give more useful tips. David


Second Unit
Jan 30, 2001
Not sure how your system is desgned..but typically "flotsam" is sent to at least one (possibly two tanks) The solids settle out into the first tank and that needs to be pumped periodically. If the solids make it any further then you can have problems !

After the solids are taken out of the "mix", the remainder is either sent to a second tank or directly into the leaching field. If a secondary tank is used, then the "grey water" is held until a certain level is reached then a pump kicks in to move the "water" out to the leaching field.

Secondary tank or not..the leaching field is the final step.
Basically think of a hand with fingers stretched out under the soil. These "fingers are made of perforated PVC. When the grey water is sent to the field, it moves out along the fingers and slowly works its way down through the soil (typically sand or VERY clean fill) It is the passage through the sand/soil that cleans out the water and returns it to nature. (Much the same as a pool filter using sand or diatomaceous (sic) earth as a filtering medium)

Tips for a happy and healthy septic...
Use "septic safe TP
DO NOT use a garbage disposal..or throw food/garbage down the drain. The food takes TOO long to break down and can lead to leaching field failure.
Do not throw paint, paper towels, condoms, tampons, etc down the toilet or drains. these will NOT break down and will cause problems
Set a schedule to have the tanks pumped/inspected and stick to it. Removal of solids helps keep them from somehow getting out to the field. Inspections should catch any trouble BEFORE it gets too expensive.
Additives are typically NOT needed. Your "contributions" to the system contain MORE than enough "bugs" to keep a single home system humming along nicely with out the added expense of septic additives.
Bleach and other household chemicals are NOt good for the system so try and avoid introducing them at all costs..I know it will be tough but keep them out of yours drains if possible.

If you have any further Q's..please reply or drop me a line I'll be happy to help you out. I have 3 years of Septic "experience" under my belt as a condo board officer during a 350,000.00 septic replacement !! I know more than enough about total suspended solids and effluence for a dozen people! :)



Senior HTF Member
Nov 2, 2002
Real Name
Good link Jim. It is my understanding that garbage disposal waste is not much different that the digestive system waste and may in fact be beneficial.

I had a spetic for 15 years in the house growing up and we never pumped even once.

The solid wastes eventually decompose and turn liquid and gas.

Do not put anything down the drain that cannot decompose - ie-rubber/plastic/metal/twinkies.

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