Septic Tank Additives: What You Need To Know in Boise, ID

If you’re a homeowner who is new to owning a septic system, you may find yourself overwhelmed with everything you need to know about how it works, the how to keep from overloading your system, how often it needs to be pumped, what regular maintenance looks like, how to identify when it needs repairs, et cetera. There’s definitely a lot of information out there, and we recognize that there may be a learning curve for individuals who are unfamiliar with the system. At ASAP Septic, we are here for you! We hope to provide information to help reassure and educate people using our expertise from years working in the septic industry. Today, we will be discussing septic tank additives, and everything you need to know about them. 


But first, what are septic tank additives?

There is a market for everything these days, and septic tank additives are products that are marketed as treatments to improve the performance and maintenance of septic systems. Most homeowners are horrified by the idea of something going wrong with their septic system--rightly so, as there is definitely potential for major issues if left unchecked--and these homeowners may be easily convinced to do anything in their power to reduce the possibility of such a disaster. Septic tank additives com in the form of powers, liquids, or pills, which can either be added directly to the septic tank or flushed down a drain or toilet. 


The theory behind septic tank additives is that they enhance bacterial activity in the septic tank, which breaks down solid waste in the tank. This is a fundamental process to how septic tanks work. Some septic tank additives are supposed to help break down waste more quickly, and others are supposed to improve odor control or prevent the system from backing up. 


The controversy around septic tank additives

There is a debate around whether or not septic tank additives are effective; some experts say that they are wholly unnecessary and can cause more harm than good, as overuse or misuse of these products can disrupt the natural ecosystem of the septic tank and can even damage parts of the system. Additionally, regular maintenance and septic tank pumping are the two components needed to keep a septic system operating smoothly, so these supposed advantages of septic tank additives truly are not necessary. 


Can septic tank additives cause more harm than good?

The way that septic tanks work involves the natural microbiome of bacteria and other microbes breaking down solid wastes. This balance of microbes is fairly delicate, and are sensitive to oxygen and other changes in their environment. If septic tank additives are used improperly, they can damage this delicate balance. Some additives contain harsh chemicals that are detrimental to the natural bacteria and enzymes that live in the tank. If this ecosystem is balanced, septic tank additives can actually slow down the rate of solid waste breakdown in the tank, which is the opposite of the intended effect. In turn, slowing down the decomposition of waste can lead to wastewater backing up through the pipes or causing a blockage in the system--issues that no one wants to deal with!


Additionally, septic tank additives can cause damage to pipes, tanks, and even the drain field if they are used excessively, or if they contain harmful chemicals. Over time, this damage can lead to costly repairs or even a full system replacement, which is a heavy price to pay for a product that you really don’t need in the first place. 


Lastly, septic tank additives can introduce bacteria and chemicals into the groundwater. Septic tanks are designed to allow wastewater to filter through the ground to achieve a purified state by the time it reaches the water table, but additives can increase the load of bacteria and chemicals in the water, which can become a health and environmental hazard. At ASAP Septic, we highly, highly recommend avoiding the use of septic tank additives because of the minimal benefits and the large potential for detrimental effects. 


At ASAP Septic, our number one priority is serving our clients, friends, and neighbors through our earned experience here in Idaho. We serve Boise, Payette, Meridian, Lowman, Garden Valley, Mountain Home, Kuna, Caldwell, Middleton, ID, and everywhere in between. Whether you are looking to install a septic system on a new construction or are seeking an inspection on an existing system, give us a call at (208) 991-7184 or fill out our online contact form for a consultation or for more information today!

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