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Appliances have become an integral part of our everyday lives. With the increase of high capacity appliances in the modern home, you could be hurting your septic system without even knowing it. By the time that you realize the combined impact of all these appliances, you may wind up with a septic problem that could be very costly.

Your septic system has an important job. All of the waste from your household flows into the septic tank to be dealt with accordingly, such as solid waste sinking to the bottom to form sludge and wastewater flowing out of the tank into an adjoining drainfield. Septic owners know that they cannot use certain appliances as casually as homeowners with public sewage. Dishwashers and washing machines are known for consuming excessive amounts of water and have the potential of quickly overflowing a septic tank.


Learn which appliances may be hurting you septic system to help avoid future problems:


The Garbage Disposal

Although the garbage disposal is surely a convenience in the kitchen, it is not a friend to the septic tank. Regular use of garbage disposals can add as much as double the amount of solid waste to your septic tank. Keep large pieces of food such as pasta, egg shells, and coffee grounds out of the disposal. Even though such foods get chopped up by the disposal blades, they do not break down in the tank and can eventually clog your drainfield. Grease is another culprit of septic trouble; it solidifies in the pipes and system, resulting in the need for costly repairs.

Garbage disposals are simply not a friend to your septic system. They greatly increase the amount of solids, biomass and grease going into your septic tank. This will fill your tank up more quickly while also decreasing the efficiency of your tank.  The result is more pumping, more maintenance, greater chance for system failure, and more costs for you.


The Dishwasher

Like the washing machine, newer dishwashers run more efficiently and use a lot less water, a good thing for the septic tank system. That being said, the detergent used in the dishwasher is often the cause of problems in the septic tank. Avoid any dishwashing products that contain phosphate; this acid threatens the good bacteria and enzymes in the septic tank that are responsible for treating wastewater.

Run your dishwasher only when it is full to keep excess water out of your septic tank. Modern, energy-efficient models use less water compared to washing dishes by hand; however, there is no need to run a half-empty dishwasher numerous times a day. Be sure to use the dishwasher in the middle of the night when you are not using water with other appliances. This will spread out the flow to the tank and allow it to work more efficiently. You do not want to run the dishwasher, wash clothes, take a shower, all within the same hour, or the septic tank will get overwhelmed.


The Toilet

Not only does the toilet account for the most water use in the entire house, but improper use can also cause problems for the septic system. Excess water flowing into the septic tank can disrupt the balance, so switching to a low flow toilet system can cut down water usage in half or more.

Do not use your toilets for anything other than liquid waste, solid waste, and toilet paper. Flushing feminine products, cotton swabs, dental floss, baby wipes, paper towels, chemical cleaners, and any other foreign object or liquid causes septic tank bacteria problems and clogs.


The Washing Machine

Perhaps the number one appliance for leading to the most septic tank system failures is the washing machine. Even if you have an energy-efficient model that uses less water, the buildup of lint can make its way to the septic tank and can cause the system to fail.

While it is convenient to devote one day a week to laundry, it is not healthy for your septic system. Washing multiple loads causes too much water to move through the septic tank, pushing wastewater out into the drainfield before the solids have been separated from the liquid. Avoid using your washing machine multiple times a day to keep your tank and drainfield functional.  Spread out loads by doing just a few per day and install an inline discharge filter to prevent lint from clogging your septic system. These few modifications can help your septic tank keep up with demand.


Water Softeners

Water softeners are an unnecessary stress to your septic system. They add a considerable amount of water to your septic tank which can easily cause it to overflow. They can also prevent solid waste from being able to settle at the bottom of the tank. This causes sludge to bypass the baffle and flow through the outlet. The solid waste can clog drain field pipes and cause the drain field to flood.

Their sole function is to remove hardness from water (calcium and magnesium ions) and replace them with sodium ions. Salt is among the list of additives water softeners remove. Salt in the septic tank can disrupt the sludge breakdown process and also cause the tank to overflow. The only way a homeowner can combat such issues is through constant septic pumping and the use of septic tank treatment.


The Hot Tub

The hot tub holds a significant amount of treated water, and although it does not pose an immediate threat to the septic system when in use, it does when you have to drain the tub. When that high volume of treated water is drained, it can overwhelm the septic tank. The high chlorination levels of hot tubs can kill septic tank bacteria that are meant to break down sludge. We suggest that you do not connect your hot tub to the septic system. Instead, drain it away from the drain field to avoid flooding.



Call West Coast Sanitation Today!

The fact is that many homes and septic systems were not designed to handle the load put on them from modern appliances and modern lifestyles. But, with a little care and awareness, you can manage this impact and help to avoid increased maintenance problems and the need for costly system repairs and replacement.

At West Coast Sanitation, we know that you don’t have time to deal with septic problems. If you think that your system has reached capacity, please give us a call right away. We have professionals ready to answer your questions and get your system working properly again.



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