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Old 01-31-2011, 04:51 AM
Donny Male Donny is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Texas
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Default septic safe products/cleaners

We are having our first home built on 10 acres. A well has been dug and new septic system will be installed. It seems there is no standard for what a "septic safe" product is. Many products do not list their ingredients so I can't use that either. Is there a reliable neutral source that tells what products really are septic safe and biodegradable? Preferably items that can be bought at the local store. We don't do much online shopping and never shop online for products we use regularly. We prefer old way of shopping with people in the flesh and products that can be seen, touched, or tried on as much as possible. Please help, we should be moving into our home in a couple of weeks and would like to use the septic safe biodegradable products from day one.
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Old 01-31-2011, 09:11 AM
NCLee NCLee is offline
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Location: North Carolina
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Welcome Donny!

I don't know of any list, although one may exist somewhere.

The guideline that I use is to keep as much as possible that isn't natural/organic out of the tank. If you have a tank sized correctly for your home and a good drain field, it can accept some things without causing a problem, when used in moderation. For example, I use Dawn antibacterial dish detergent. It isn't "good" for the bacteria in the tank. Yet, it's a compromise to using homemade soap which isn't all that great for the bacteria either. IMHO, all cleaning products fit into this category.

One important rule to remember is to never put grease in your tank. Pour that leftover bacon grease in a tin can, let it harden, and dispose of it in the trash.

And, keep things like washing paint brushes away from your tank, too. Just because the label says "water clean up" doesn't mean washing those brushes in a sink attached to your plumbing system. Don't dump leftover medications down the toilet or left over cleaning products, etc.

Biodegradable, as in toilet paper and other solids, isn't such a good thing for your tank. If it can get out of the tank and into your drainfield, eventually it can clog it. It's better that the stuff can settle to the bottom of the tank. Then, when necessary have the tank pumped so the stuff can be hauled off. These include toilet tissue, baby wipes, hand wipes, female products, etc. (Put those wipes and such in the trashcan! Don't flush them.)

Go easy on the bowl cleaners, anitbacterial anything, and laundry detergents. Many people use far too much of the latter to do a good job. Oh, and stay away from those advertised septic tank products. If you have a healthy bacterial population in your tank, those products can do more harm than good by digesting too much of what comes in the tank. Thus permitting more to get into your drain field. If far less expensive to pump a tank every few years than it is to replace a field. A "few years" can be 20 years, depending on how many you have in your family.

Just my 2 cents based on living here since 1974. Tank has been pumped once.

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Old 01-31-2011, 09:16 AM
tomato204 Male tomato204 is offline
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Location: TN zone7a
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Default septic

Borax is a big no-no for septic systems. It will kill off your micro-herd and never breaks down. Remember to site your tank where you could have it pumped out if needed and don't plant shrubbery etc where you're blocking the path to it.
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Old 01-31-2011, 01:17 PM
fancy1 Female fancy1 is offline
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Oregon Coast
Posts: 79

DH spent the day yesterday digging out the "access" to our septic tank. It's not been pumped in 11 years and he was concerned about it's level.

He peaked in and yes, today I'm calling to have it pumped. It's been just two of us for many years now, but before that... well, you try to tell young'ins what is flushable etc...

I am going to ask if the company has a recommended "safe/not safe" list, though we pretty much know the drill. Will post their list, if they have one that is.
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Old 01-31-2011, 08:38 PM
fancy1 Female fancy1 is offline
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Oregon Coast
Posts: 79

Septic pump truck just left. The girl on the phone wasn't any help with a "list", so I asked the operator.
No real printed list was available that he knew of, but this is what he said:
One or two ply toilet paper is okay. (says they appear to break down the same)
NO fem products.
NO paper towels.
NO baby/hand wipes.
NO grease/cooking oils.

Of course I just had to ask.... what sort of "weirdness" have you found?
His answer was socks, t-shirts and very often CELL PHONES!
I then asked about the additive products (ridex or something like it), and he said from experience it's very mixed. Some it works for, others not.

SO, his recommendation was to keep doing whatever we're doing because we must be doing something right. Says our system looks very good.
We do have a garbage disposal, which we use very little because of the septic.
We do dump a package of ridex type stuff down it about every 9-12 months.
We do mix our own laundry soap, so there's borax in it and it didn't seem to be a problem.
We use very little bleach on anything, so that doesn't seem to be a problem either.

After 11 years, it was pretty close to full and we're glad we checked it. And after 11 years there was less than an inch of greases floating.
Looks like we're good to go for a good while now! (no pun intended )
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Old 02-05-2011, 09:27 PM
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Catalpa Catalpa is offline
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I have personally seen rid-x ruin several septic systems, to the tune of thousands of dollars. Don't ever use it! Lee is spot on, once again..just don't abuse it and your system, if properly designed and constructed, will last for many many years.
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" Romans 8:1
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Old 02-08-2011, 03:01 AM
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randallhilton Male randallhilton is offline
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Location: Fort Worth TX
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I would steer clear of so called "anti bacterial" soaps since they're not too picky about the bacteria they annihilate. By the same token, if you ever end up taking anti-biotics, try to get the liquid or capsule version of the prescription because many pills make it through your system intact. Dissolving an anti-biotic in your tank could also kill your bacteria.

Use less, lose less, weigh the benefits, count the costs.
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