The short answer to the question in the title, “Do septic tank additives work?” is yes, they do. However, some are more safe than others and not all of them work equally well. I’ll tell you about all the things you need to know about septic tank additives in this article.
What Are the Different Types of Septic Tank Additives?
The reasons septic tank owners use additives in their septic tanks vary. Home owners add septic tank additives to their tanks to help the system with the digestion of biosolids, improve settling in the tank, break up scum that builds within the tank or to dissolve a clog in the soil absorption system. The main reason for use of additives in septic tanks is to liquefy solids within the tank more quickly, increase settling ability of solids and to rejuvenate a system that is stressed from the overabundance of bacterial populations. Go here for help diagnosing septic tank problems.
Septic tank additives which are are classified into two distinctive categories:
- Chemical: these include organic and inorganic compounds
- Biological. these include bacteria, yeast and enzymes
On the market today, there are approximately 1,200 septic tank additives. Many of these additives contain enzymes and can be purchased through discount stores, septic tank pumpers, chemical companies, and home stores.
Are Septic Tank Additives Safe?
Septic tank additives have been researched for the past 40 years. Although there are many favorable reports, there is still some debate over their effectiveness. The reason is, there is no standardized testing method used to test and compare all of the septic tank additives on the market. This makes their usefulness very subjective.
The situation then becomes more complicated with the debate between independent researchers and additives manufacturers on which effects are considered detrimental and which are considered to be beneficial. The debate addresses the question of whether or not increasing breakup of the scum layer or increasing the anaerobic decomposition process is actually beneficial in septic systems.
Is the Addition of an Additive to my Septic System Necessary?
In septic tanks that are properly designed, maintained and operated, it is not necessary to add an enhancer or a stimulator to the septic tank. Human fecal matter already contains naturally occurring bacteria. Although some believe that the addition of yeast, possums, dead chickens or raw hamburgers will help the septic system run more efficiently, it is not so.
Homeowners must be cautious when using additives. Caustic hydroxides and sulfuric acid, which are chemical additives, should not be added to a septic system. These chemical additives will change the permeability characteristics of the soil absorption system, destroy the bacterial population in the septic tank, and may cause groundwater contamination. These chemical additives are often times falsely promoted by manufacturers of biological additives claiming that through regular use, they will restore the bacterial balance in a septic tank. Check the ingredients list of each septic tank additive before you buy one.
There are special circumstances when septic additives should be introduced to the system. For example, if the homeowner or household members take prescription medications or antibiotics they may be warranted. However, sufficient research has not been conducted in this area.
Many manufacturers claim is that additives help to regulate the septic tank system as a regular maintenance tool. This however is not so. Homeowners will need regular septic tank emptying and scheduled maintenance with or without the use of additives.
Without independent and unbiased research conducted by research centers, universities and additive manufacturers, the debate on the effectiveness of septic tank additives and their limitations will not be resolved.