A number of neighbors have asked us, can I use drano if I have a septic system? Homeowners with septic tanks will typically pause before putting anything down their pipes that isn’t waste or water—and for good reason.
Septic tanks, while they may not seem like, are delicate balances of bacteria, and if something goes down the drain that isn’t supposed to be there, it can easily upset that balance.
Don’t fret, though. This article has you covered and answers the question, Can I Use Drano? (or any cleaning fluid for that matter) into your septic system.
First Things First, Let’s Talk Science
You know that old saying about teaching a man to fish? Well, that principle applies here. It doesn’t do us much good to say “Yes, put Drano in your septic tank,” or “No, definitely don’t do that,” because you won’t have any idea why we’re saying what we’re saying. So, before we get to the point of answering “can I use Drano”, let’s look at some septic system basics:
How Does a Septic System Work?
For those unaware, your leach field is essentially a series of pipes that contains pre-cultured healthy bacteria that specialize in breaking down waste in a positive and productive manner.
Because of this, you’ll often hear people preaching about certain things you should NEVER pour down your drain, such as:
- Greases, fats, and oils
- Toilet wipes (flushable or non-flushable)
- Dental Floss
- Cigarette Butts
- Feminine Hygiene Products
- Coffee Grounds
- Cat Litter
You get the point. Basically, if it isn’t wastewater, it can negatively affect your septic system.
How Does Drano Work?
Now that we’ve covered the basics of your septic system, let’s talk about where Drano fits into the mix and answer the question, can I use Drano in my septic system.
In essence, Drano (or really any drain-cleaning chemical) operates off a single principle: create a chemical reaction powerful (and toxic) enough to remove anything that might be causing a blockage.
The good news is, this principle is pretty sound. Drano and other drain cleaners are really good at eating away whatever is stopping up those pipes.
So then, what’s the bad news?
Can I Use Drano in My Septic System?
Unfortunately, the bad news we have is really bad news. If you have a septic system, Drano is probably not a good idea.
Remember those delicate bacteria we talked about that work to break down waste? Well, Drano and similar chemical drain openers, are extremely toxic that is capable of not only decreasing the population of those bacteria but also has the ability to sterilize it completely. That means no more waste being broken down, period.
This can lead to an entire host of problems, the least of which is your septic system backing blackwater up through your pipes and into your home.
Additionally, when your leach field becomes sterile, the solution isn’t as simple as just flushing new bacteria down the drain. Rather, you have to call professionals in and, in extreme cases, the entire leach field may have to be dug up and replaced.
As you may have guessed, that’s a pretty exorbitant out-of-pocket cost.
What Can I Do Instead?
If you know what is blocking your drain, then the solution is easy. For hair, use a drain cleaner. For grease, see if you can locate the blockage in the pipe and remove/clean that section by hand. For—well, you get the point.
If you don’t know what is causing the backup, our recommendation is to call in a septic professional to diagnose the issue and resolve the blockage. Not only does this save you from potential further harming your septic system, but it also means you don’t run the risk of injuring yourself or getting sick because you touched something you weren’t supposed to.
Septic technicians, on the other hand, are specially trained and are prepared for anything. At Martin Septic, our technicians have been helping homeowners like you for decades. So, as you can imagine, we know a thing or two.
If you’re experiencing a blockage or are only seeing this article AFTER you used the drano, then we highly recommend you give us a call to book one of our free consultations—that way, you can relax and leave the dirty work to the experts.