One popular plumbing question deals with having a garbage disposal with septic tank. I have had so many people ask me if it is a good idea to install a disposal if they use a septic tank. This is a valid concern as it has been proven that using a garbage disposal can be a bit hard on a septic tank. So, to install or not to install – that is the question!
A Simple Answer to a Complex Issue
There is something to the claim that a garbage disposal leaking will wreak havoc on a well and septic system. When you use a garbage disposal you are doubling the amount of the solids being added to the septic tank. So, there are two options available for those who ask this question. Either do not install a disposal system or install one and just pump twice as much as you normally would to prevent septic tank back up. The question you must ask yourself at this point in the decision making process is how much the convenience of having a garbage disposal is worth to you. If it is worth a lot then you may find that pumping the tank more often is something you are willing to do. If not, you may as well stop reading right here. Not everyone agrees with this advice but even an expert in the area of septic systems will tell you the same thing I just did.
Is It Worth the Risk?
Even if you have decided that it is worth the convenience you should still ask yourself if it is worth the risk. Even if you install the disposal and pump your septic tank as much as possible, there are still risks associated with having both types of systems in use at once. In the event that doubling, or even tripling, your pumping does not work, your septic system could fail and this is a nightmare. This is especially true if you have a conventional septic system. Problems with septic failure can cost you upwards of $20,000, and over the past few years many of these systems have failed for one reason or another. Keep in mind also, that even if you system has failed and been repaired, this is information that would have to be revealed to potential home buyers if you ever put your house on the market. Knowing this was a problem in the past can drive down the value of your home, making it much harder to sell.
What is a Conventional System?
This type of system is based upon a basic system of gravity. These are the systems that your grandparents used in their homes, so this tells you how old this design really is. It works by taking the waste from the inside the house and putting it in the tank where it is broken down by bacterial actions. It then feeds to a distribution box that is pushed down by gravity. From there it just seeps into the surrounding ground. The other choice of septic systems is called the alternative system. These systems pre-treat the waste so there is less pollution when it goes to ground. There are several different styles to choose from. So, if you want to have a garbage disposal you may want to change your conventional system to an alternative one. This way you will be at less risk for something going wrong. You will still have to double up on the pumping, but there is a smaller chance of failure occurring.
Rules for Having A Septic System in Conjunction with a Garbage Disposal
If you have a garbage disposal with septic tank then there I have a few tips to help keep things copasetic.
• When grinding food, do so with a flow of cold water. Using hot want is a major no-no.
• To help keep any foul odors from arising, grind orange or lemon peels once a week.
• After grinding anything up, run some cold water for at least a minute to flush out the system. This will keep things from getting stuck in the drain and causing problems.
• While most foods are fine for grinding, do not grind any materials that are fibrous as this can cause severe blockage. (Ex. Corn husks and artichokes)
If you are careful and follow the manufactures recommendations you should have no problems. Good luck!