iStock_000030488952_SmallYou’ve probably seen some of the marketing that companies do for septic system additives, which are supposed to help breakdown solids in your system and extend the life of your septic system overall. However, recent studies show that septic system additives are not only unnecessary, but they can do more harm than good.

How your system works:

Septic systems allow wastewater to flow through them and it naturally separates into three components, solids (or sludge), effluent (liquid) and floatable solids (scum). Both sludge and scum are retained by the tank until a licensed septic contractor pumps them out. The effluent liquid passes through the drainfield where it is filtered by the soil, treated by the soil microbes and replenishes the groundwater sources.

The beauty of septic systems is that require very little maintenance, since the biological process that breaks down wastewater happens naturally. The system only needs to be pumped out every 3-5 years. Septic system pumpouts are just like having an engine’s oil changed. They serve to prolong the life of your system.

Additives:

Additives fall into two categories: chemical and biological. While the latter category could potentially help reduce the amount of oil and grease in a septic tank, research suggests that some biological additives can increase the amount of solids carried into the drainfield, causing blockages that may ultimately require repair. In addition, chemical additives can agitate your soil structure.

The moral of the story is to save any money that you might spend on any septic tank additives by pumping your tank out regularly and allowing the natural biological process to occur. All the bacteria needed to replenish your system can be found in human feces, which are going into your tank on a regular basis without any cost to you.

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