Drano And Septic Tanks
Anyone who has owned a home with a septic tank has wondered about Drano and septic tanks. The commonly held information on the subject is hugely conflicting. There are those who say that Drano works perfectly fine with septic tanks, the company who makes Drano among them. Some, however, say that it can harm the septic tank, leading to costly repairs. To understand Drano and septic tanks, it is important to understand a bit about how septic tanks work.
The waste that goes from the drains and into the septic tank does not just sit and wait to be pumped out, nor is it pumped directly into the ground. Instead, the waste must first decompose, and for this effect, nature uses certain types of bacteria. This bacteria is a very important part of your septic system. In fact, the term "septic" is a reference to the bacterial environment within the system.
Drano and septic tanks may co-habitate, but with caution.
Anything you pour down the drain will have an effect on the entire septic system. Obviously Drano will kill some of the helpful bacteria that is the very essence of how your septic system works. Although this may sound like disaster, it is not necessarily so. There are a lot of things that you pour down your drain that kills the bacteria in the septic system. Other bacteria take their place, reproduce, the waste is held in the storage tank until the bacteria gets to it, and life goes on. This is generally the case when Drano is used sparingly.
Drano and septic tanks - irreconcilable differences.
Occasionally the low dose Drano plan just doesn't seem to work, and homeowners pour half the container down the drain in frustration. This is when Drano and septic tanks have a problem with each other. If enough bacteria is killed in any particular part of the system, it may not grow back in time to decompose the waste, causing blockages and, eventually, leakage of raw waste. Once this happens, the only way to remedy the problem is to pay someone to pump the septic tank and clear the obstruction.
See also Septic System Additives for a little extra insurance against septic problems.
This is why some companies sell products that add bacteria to the septic system. The idea is that a direct injection of bacteria along the same path as the blockage will naturally clear it, and sometimes this does work. However, in the case of extreme blockages, sometimes bacteria just can't do the job quickly enough.
- When possible, try hot or boiling water followed by a drain snake (available at any hardware store).
- Use all chemical drain cleaning products sparingly.
- If you suspect a larger problem, have the septic tank inspected.
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