Should I Be Using Chemical Drain Cleaning to Clear My Drains?

Numerous septic tank chemical additives products are readily available in the marketplace today. Manufacturers claim that these additives are designed to “rejuvenate” bacterial populations living in a septic system, which can easily be destroyed by household chemicals. Other enzyme type-additives are intended to reduce fats, oils, and grease in a septic tank and supposedly minimize the need for pumping. However, this marketing can be very misleading. In fact, additives are not needed to enhance the normal function of a septic system. Don’t be fooled! They have no proven benefit, can contain questionable ingredients, and can be costly.

Drain Cleaners Can Be Harmful to Your Tank

Drain cleaners contain some of the most corrosive chemicals found in the home. While a few household chemicals are broken down in a septic tank, many household chemicals are toxic to the bacteria that break down and essentially consume the solid waste into your septic tank. Every day incoming household wastewater provides your septic tank with a fresh supply of naturally occurring bacteria. Under normal conditions, they will balance out to find conditions necessary for a properly functioning septic system. Additives like drain cleaners, bleach, emulsifiers, enzymes, or any other chemical can seriously upset this balance. These agents harm the naturally occurring bacteria and skew the bacterial mix in the septic tank. Some additives can cause the sludge in a septic tank to accumulate, resulting in solids being flushed into the drain field, and clogging your system. This can result in costly damage to your home’s septic system and can harm the surrounding soil and groundwater.

Maintenance Guidelines

It is important that homeowners maintain the proper functioning of their septic systems. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Limit household cleaners. Avoid pouring large amounts of hazardous household products and other chemicals down your drain. When disposal down the drain is necessary, always flush with plenty of water and do not mix products together since it can form toxic gases.
  • Avoid drain cleaners and solvents. Do not use solvent-based septic tank additives or other products to enhance the normal function of your septic tank.
  • Follow directions. Proper use, storage, and disposal of household products will extend the life of septic systems and help protect groundwater from chemical contamination. Always follow directions listed on the product label.
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