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How My Garbage Disposal Works with My Septic Tank

How My Garbage Disposal Works with My Septic Tank

With more than a quarter of all homes serviced by some sort of septic system for plumbing, you likely have one. Sewers may be the leading way waste is distributed from homes in America, but septic tanks have our hearts! Truthfully though, septic tanks are fascinating works of engineering that have been used since the 1860s. 

However, there is some question on whether or not garbage disposal can be properly used in conjunction with a septic tank. In this article, we will lay out exactly how you can use the proper precautions to ensure that your garbage disposal does not interfere with the usefulness of your septic tank.

Can You Use a Garbage Disposal with a Septic Tank?

Well, can you? The short answer is yes, but there are some caveats. Understanding how your septic system works is crucial, for when things go wrong, it is your problem. 

Sewer systems are part of public works, and the city pays for all maintenance once it leaves your pipes. Therefore you don't typically need to worry much about how you use your garbage disposal. 

How a Septic System Works In Conjunction with a Garbage Disposal

Your septic system is an underground wastewater treatment system that utilizes a septic tank and a drain field. 

Wastewater from the house enters the septic tank through a main pipe, where it is stored and separated into three layers: solid waste at the bottom, liquid in the middle, and scum (oils, fats, and grease) on top. The solid waste is broken down by bacteria in the tank, and the liquid is allowed to flow out into the drain field.

The drain field consists of perforated pipes buried in trenches filled with gravel or other material. The liquid from the septic tank flows through the pipes and into the surrounding soil. As it filters through the soil, it is further treated and purified by naturally occurring bacteria and other microorganisms. 

Because of the way garbage disposals are typically used, you will be adding additional waste that doesn't break down the same way as human waste. Sure, eggshells and other organic matter will eventually break down in your septic tank, but at a much slower rate. Because of this, your septic tank will fill up faster and need to be pumped more often.

Don’t Overuse Your Garbage Disposal

When you introduce more solids into your septic tank, it is more likely to fill up. Over time this buildup will need to be pumped out more often than if you do not add solids to your septic tank. 

To keep your system from overflowing, it is important to be mindful when using your garbage disposal. It's also a good idea to use a strainer in the sink to catch larger pieces of food that could clog the drain.

Additionally, spreading out water usage throughout the day and avoiding large amounts of water usage at once can help prevent overload on the septic system. Regular maintenance and inspection of the septic system can also help prevent problems and ensure it continues to function properly.

Things to Avoid Putting in Your Garbage Disposal

It is fairly easy to make the mistake of putting the wrong thing at your disposal. Be sure to keep things like utensils, small toys, and other nonorganic materials from falling into your system. Glass, plastic, and metal should go in the trash, as these things will not break down regardless of how healthy your septic tank's bacterial colony is. 

While you can throw away many different types of food waste in your garbage disposal, these items should be tossed out or composted:

  • Eggshells, Onions, and Potato Skins - Eggs and onion skins have membranes that can wrap around your system instead of being ground up. This will not only make it harder for your garbage disposal, but also for your septic tank.
  • Coffee Grounds - Another big no-no when using a garbage disposal is pouring coffee grounds down the drain. Coffee grounds will create a sludge that can expand and stick to the insides of your pipes. This will cause clogs.
  • Animal Bones - Some say that you can toss smaller bones into your garbage disposal, but honestly, you are better off not doing so. Your system's impeller blades are sharp, but cannot handle materials as hard as animal bones.

Septic Tank Pumping

Your septic tank should be pumped every three to five years, but there is no question that adding additional solids by using a garbage disposal will require you to schedule more frequent pumping. At Viking Septic Services, we can help you come up with a schedule for pumping your septic tank, as well as give you tips on how to mitigate issues that may be caused by your garbage disposal. 

We are here to make your life easier, and keep your septic system in tip-top shape. If you are concerned about the health of your septic system and are in Buncombe, Polk, Transylvania, McDowell, Madison, Yancey, Henderson, or Haywood County, then it is time to make an appointment with Viking Septic Services. Contact us today!