Septic Tank Definitions/Maintenance

Septic Tank:  “an underground tank in which waste mater is decomposed through bacterial action.”

If  there is  too much solid material in your septic tank, the “bacterial action” is not taking place properly.  Why?  Not enough bacteria.  Why?  Let’s look at the labels of some typical home-care products and see what Webster’s says about them:

Disinfectant: “a means for destroying bacteria.”
Germicidal:  “an agent for killing bacteria.”
Antibiotic:  “having the capacity to inhibit the growth of or destroy bacteria.”
Sanitize:  “to free from germs by cleansing or sterilizing.”
Sterilize:  “to cleanse by destroying bacteria.”  Have you noticed the recent rise in the use of antibacterial soaps?
Anti-bacterial:  “destructive to or inhibiting the growth of bacteria.”  Do you think of what anti-septic means as you flush mouthwash down the drain?
Anti-septic:  “any substance that inhibits the action of bacteria.”  These bacteria-killers are in products  that  we  all  use  everyday.  Toilet disinfectants that get dispensed with every flush kill bacteria before they even get to the septic tank.  Garbage disposals and water softeners also challenge the bacteria needed for proper septic tank operation.  It’s no  wonder  there  are  so many failing septic systems!  Is there any word to look for that won’t kill bacteria?  Sure:
Biodegradable:  “capable  of  being  readily decomposed by bacterial action.”

So are we saying to stop cleaning and disinfecting the house?  Of course not.  What we are saying is if you’re going to regularly kill bacteria needed for proper septic tank operation, you need to regularly replace  those bacteria with a monthly dosage of bacterial additive.  Regular maintenance cleaning of your septic system is also important. The  Michigan State Health Department / DEQ recommend servicing your septic system every 3 – 5 years to help keep your septic system healthy.

Just like it is cheaper to change the oil in your car rather than replace the engine, likewise it is cheaper to pump your tank regularly than it is to replace your septic tank and drain field.