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Septic Tank Additives

Septic Tank Additives: What are they and what is best for your tank?

Recently move into a home that is on a septic system? After doing extensive research, you probably heard from different sources about septic tank additives. While there is much debate on whether or not these are beneficial or harmful to your septic tank, you need to know what they are and what their functions are. There are a few different types of septic tank additives that you can buy your local hardware store and they may be added to a septic system for a number of reasons. So, the big question, do I need them? Read on to take a brief look at the differences between biological and chemical septic tank additives.


A septic tank’s purpose is to keep solids and grease from entering/clogging your drain field. Because there are some object that can not be broken down by the bacteria in your tank, it settles at the bottom of the tank. For proper septic system maintenance, it is recommended to pump your tank every three to five years. In lieu of doing regular pumping, people have turned to septic tank additives. These additives are marketed as products that break down inorganic materials. People flock to these products when there is a drain blockage.


Types of Additives

Although there are over a thousand different additive products that you can find in supermarkets, they can all be broken down into one of two categories: biological and chemical.

Biological additives typically include bacteria, enzymes, and yeast, while chemical additives are organic or inorganic compounds. Biological additives are used because of their suggested ability to minimize the amount of grease, oil, and effluent solids within the tank; unfortunately, evidence exists that this can cause solids to find their way from the septic tank to the drain field and cause clogging in the process. These products are also know to kill the active bacteria that breakdown waste.

On the other hand, chemical additives like sulfuric acid, hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda have been used in order to address clogs in soil absorption systems so that they can once again work at full capacity. However, some of these additives have been found to compromise the structure of the system and reduce the permeability of the soil. Strong chemicals can erode the integrity of your septic tank and system.

Potential Harm to the Septic System

When comparing biological vs chemical septic tank additives for potential advantages and disadvantages, you should know that chemical additives are far more likely to harm your septic system itself. Additives that are acid or alkali-based may cause corrosion in your septic tank as well as sterilize your septic system. Additionally, organic chemical additives can combine with your groundwater and potentially contaminate wells, ultimately compromising your drinking water.

Environmental Impact

It always helps to know how the additives you use, whether biological or chemical, can affect the environment. Organic chemical additives such as benzenes, naphthalenes, and alkanes are pollutants, and even at lower levels, they should not be used. Additives that include zinc sulfate, formaldehyde, and paraformaldehyde should also be avoided; unlike biological additives, chemical additives tend to be much more harmful to the environment.

Septic System Guide - A Complete Overview for Homeowners

Closing Statement

If you are looking to decrease the amount of waste that accumulates at the bottom your tank, consider these tips:

  • Avoid flushing inorganic material. This includes medicine, plastic Q-tips, cigarettes, feminine hygiene products, cat litter, and the biggest offender of the pandemic, PAPER TOWELS.
  • Avoid pouring grease and oil down the sink.
  • Avoid using too much water at once. This means, you probably shouldn’t be showering with the washer machine and dishwasher running.

As a homeowner, it’s important to understand the upkeep of your home’s systems and appliances and to know the signs when something has gone wrong. Knowing what signs to look for when it comes to your septic tank and system can result in saving you from potentially costly damage that results from damages left unrepaired. Remember the signs we’ve mentioned and stay proactive by scheduling routine pumping and inspections. With proper care and maintenance, you can avoid needing frequent septic tank repairs.

If you notice any of these signs of trouble, contact A-1 Septic Tank Service online or call us at (510) 886-4455 to schedule septic tank repair for your home or business. We also provide septic tank pumping, grease trap cleaning, and other waste disposal services.

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