Can You Have a Garbage Disposal With A Septic Tank?
If you live away from the hustle and bustle of city life, you probably have a septic tank on your property.
Septic tanks are great for managing waste, but what happens when you have a problem?
Septic tanks are normally out of sight and out of mind, so when problems arise, it’s normally too late.
Keeping your septic system healthy should be at the top of your list.
Since all of your home’s plumbing is connected to your septic systems, it’s important to remember whatever you put down a drain will end up in your septic tank.
Your garbage disposal is no exception.
Can You Have a Garbage Disposal On A Septic Tank?
The short answer is yes though it is generally not recommended to use a garbage disposal unit with a septic tank because it can cause problems with the septic tank system.
Garbage disposals grind up food waste and other organic matter, which can increase the amount of solids in the septic tank.
This can cause the tank to fill up more quickly and require more frequent pumping, leading to additional costs and maintenance.
In addition, the grinding action of the garbage disposal can create small particles that can clog the septic drainfield, causing backups and other issues.
It is always best to consult a septic system professional for advice on using a garbage disposal with a septic tank.
What Does a Garbage Disposal Do?
A garbage disposal is a device installed under the sink that grinds up food waste and other organic matter to prevent clogs in the plumbing system.
When activated, the garbage disposal uses a spinning blade or grinding mechanism to chop up the food waste and flush it down the drain.
This prevents food from building up in the pipes and causing clogs or other issues.
Garbage disposals are a convenient and hygienic way to dispose of food waste, but they should be used carefully to avoid damaging the plumbing system or the garbage disposal itself.
What Does a Septic System Do?
A septic system is a type of on-site wastewater treatment system that treats and disposes of household sewage.
A septic system consists of a septic tank, a drain field, and a network of pipes that connect the household plumbing to the septic tank system.
The septic tank is a large underground tank that holds the sewage and allows it to decompose naturally.
The drain field is a series of trenches or pipes that filter and disperse the treated wastewater into the ground.
The septic system processes the sewage and removes harmful bacteria and other contaminants, allowing the treated wastewater to be safely released into the environment.
Septic systems are typically used in areas without municipal sewer systems.
Things to Consider If You Have a Septic Tank
If you have a septic tank, there are several things you should consider to maintain the health and efficiency of the system.
Some key things to keep in mind include the following:
- Conserve water: Septic systems rely on water to help break down and process sewage. Using water efficiently can help prevent the septic tank from filling up too quickly and reduce the risk of overflows and other issues.
- Avoid using chemicals: Certain chemicals, such as bleach and disinfectants, can harm the bacteria and other microorganisms in the septic tank that are essential for breaking down the sewage. Avoid using these chemicals in your plumbing and opt for environmentally friendly cleaning products instead.
- Use the garbage disposal sparingly: Garbage disposals grind up food waste and other organic matter, which can increase the amount of solids in the septic tank. This can cause the tank to fill up more quickly and require more frequent pumping. Avoid using the garbage disposal excessively and dispose of food waste in other ways instead.
- Have the septic tank pumped regularly: Septic tanks should be pumped every 3-5 years, depending on the tank’s size and the system’s usage. Regular pumping can prevent the septic tank from becoming full and clogged, leading to backups and other issues.
📗 Related Reading: Pros and Cons of a Septic Tank
Best Practices of Managing a Garbage Disposal with a Septic Tank
The dos and don’ts of garbage disposals connected to septic tanks are as follows:
- Use the garbage disposal sparingly to avoid overloading the septic system with too much organic matter.
- Dispose of small amounts of food particles at a time to allow the garbage disposal to grind it up more easily.
- Run cold water while using the garbage disposal to help flush the food waste down the drain.
- Use biodegradable, non-toxic cleaning products to clean the garbage disposal to avoid harming the septic system.
- Don’t grind fibrous materials, such as corn husks and celery stalks, in the garbage disposal. These can clog the disposal or the septic system.
- Don’t put expandable foods like pasta or rice in your disposal unit. These can seem small but can add up and expand in the system and cause jams.
- Don’t put grease, oil, or fats down the garbage disposal. These can solidify and create clogs in the septic system.
- Don’t use hot water while using the disposal. It can cause oils to liquefy and accumulate, causing clogs and hinder your disposal’s grinding ability.
- Don’t put chemicals, such as bleach or disinfectants, down the garbage disposal. These can harm the tank’s bacteria and other microorganisms in the septic tank that are essential for breaking down the sewage.
- Do not put coffee grounds in your disposal. Though small, grounds can slowly accumulate over time and cause clogs.
- Anything other than organic matter does not belong in your septic system. No non food items like plastic, glass, metal, paper, chewing gum, or cigarette butts ever, and we mean never!
- Don’t run the garbage disposal for too long or grind up too much food waste at once. This can overload the septic system and cause backups or other issues.
What Can You Put Down a Garbage Disposal With a Septic Tank?
When using a garbage disposal with a septic tank, it is important to avoid putting certain items down the disposal to prevent clogs and other issues.
Some items that are safe to put down a garbage disposal with a septic tank include:
- Soft fruits, vegetables and other biodegradable food scraps: These can be easily ground up by the disposal and will decompose quickly in the septic tank.
- Small amounts of cooked or uncooked meat: These can be ground up and will break down in the septic tank.
- Bread and eggshells: These can be ground up and will provide additional natural bacteria to help break down the sewage in the septic tank.
It is important to use the disposal sparingly and dispose of food waste in the trash when possible.
Related Reading: Why Is My Garbage Disposal Not Working?
Do You Need a Special Garbage Disposal for Septic Systems?
In general, you do not need a special garbage disposal for septic systems.
Most standard garbage disposals are designed to grind up food waste and other organic matter, which can be safely processed by a septic system.
However, it is important to use the disposal sparingly when connected to a septic system.
You can, however, fit what is known as a septic assist garbage disposal.
What is a Septic Assist Garbage Disposal?
A septic assist garbage disposal is a type of garbage disposal that is designed to work with a septic system.
These disposals typically have a lower grinding power and are designed to break down food waste more efficiently than standard disposals.
They may also have additional features, such as a grinding chamber that can be easily cleaned to prevent clogs.
Septic assist disposal systems are generally more expensive than standard disposals, but they can help prevent clogs and other issues with the septic system.
It is always best to consult a septic system professional for advice on using a septic assist disposal with a septic tank.
Garbage Disposal Alternatives
There are several alternatives to using a garbage disposal that can help prevent clogs and other issues with your plumbing system.
Some common garbage disposal alternatives include:
- Composting: Composting is the process of breaking down organic matter, such as food waste, into nutrient-rich soil fertilizer. Composting can be done at home using a compost bin or compost pile or taken to a local composting facility.
- Trash can: Disposing of food waste in the trash can prevent the amount of organic matter in the plumbing system.
- Worm bin: A worm bin is a small container filled with soil and worms that can break down food waste and other organic matter. Worm bins can be kept outdoors and can produce nutrient-rich compost for gardening.
- Grinding before disposal: Some food waste, such as bones or fruit pits, can be ground up in a food processor or blender before being disposed of in the trash. This can prevent clogs in the plumbing system and make it easier to dispose of the waste.
It is always best to consult a plumber or septic system professional for advice on preventing clogs and other issues with the plumbing system.
Homes with septic systems require much more maintenance than public sewer systems.
When treated with care, your septic system can last for years. If neglected, you could be on the hook for some costly repairs or replacements.
You should always be aware of what you put in your garbage disposal and clean your disposal regularly.
If you’re looking for an affordable and reliable plumber, check out Phyxter Home Services and check if they service your area.
If you’re interested in learning more about your home’s plumbing systems, you can check out our other articles in our plumbing blog.
Related Reading: DIY Guide to 15 Common Plumbing Problems & Solutions
Related Reading: Why Your Garbage Disposal Smells and How to Fix It