In Septic Knowledge Center

How can I go about extending septic system life?  If you’re a septic tank owner, you probably had that question at some point during your tenure at your current home. So you might wonder…

“Can I flush that?”

 This question is one that homeowners ask themselves every day, and for good reason. It isn’t always obvious when something is safe to flush versus when they aren’t. And to make matters worse, some products even advertise being flushable when they’re not!  (We’re looking at you, ‘flushable’ wipes)

Stop wondering if you’re doing the right thing and read this article instead. Inside, we’ll give you info on which household items are okay to flush and which ones definitely aren’t.

Here are the top 5 things you should never flush down your drains to help in extending septic system life:

#1: FOGS (Fats, Oils, and Greases)

Contrary to popular belief, there are no types of oils, fats, or grease that are septic tank safe. Not only can this lead to significant clogs in your pipes themselves, but they can also contribute to a build-up in your septic system, drastically reducing its storage capacity over time.

Additionally, They can make it extremely difficult to drain the septic tank, as you can imagine. Once those greases and oils build up, the only way to get it out is to scoop it, and you don’t want that.

#2: Disposable Hygiene Products

We don’t care if the product says “flushable” on it or not. Unless it’s toilet paper, you should not be flushing disposable hygiene products.

This happens because, unlike toilet paper, these products don’t easily dissolve and fall apart when soaked with water. Many of them contain sticky plastics as well, further contributing to the issue.

Hygiene products you should not be flushing into your septic system include:

  • Pads
  • Tampons
  • Flushable Wipes
  • Disposable Diapers
  • Q-tips
  • Cotton Balls

#3: Paper Towels

“Can I flush paper towels,” is a common household question among new homeowners, and it isn’t difficult to understand why. After all, they’re just like toilet paper, right?

Well, actually, they aren’t.

Toilet paper is a specially formulated brand of paper designed to crumble apart when it comes into contact with water. That’s why you can’t use it to wipe up spills without it coming apart in your hands.

Contrarily, paper towels are crafted to be durable and strong so that they don’t fall apart when you’re trying to use them. Because of this, flushing them can easily cause major backups in your pipes, and can clog your septic system in a hurry and hurt in extending septic system life.

#4: Pet Waste and Litter

You probably guessed that you shouldn’t flush litter, but did you know even pet waste is something that shouldn’t enter your pipes?

As it turns out, septic tanks have been specially equipped to facilitate the breaking down of human waste. However, our pets have wildly different diets than we do. It logically follows that their waste would break down differently than ours does.

Because of this, your pet waste can cause unwanted buildup in your septic system and result in blackwater backup and reduce extending septic system life.

#5: Chemicals

It is incredibly tempting to flush chemicals and hazardous waste, especially when you don’t have any other way to dispose of it. However, this is an extremely bad idea. Not only can these dangerous materials corrode your pipes, but they can also cause dangerous gas buildups inside your tank.

Even if you’re connected to city sewage systems, you still shouldn’t be flushing these things down the drain. Most wastewater processing plants aren’t equipped to remove dangerous chemicals and they often end up right back in our drinking water later.

Similarly, you also shouldn’t try to flush them into storm drains or dump them out somewhere in the woods. Both of these things pose incredible harm to the environment and can contribute to pollution issues like smog and acid rain.

If you have to dispose of dangerous chemicals, we recommend taking them to your local recycling plant. Most waste disposal/recycling plants will have options to dispose of oddities like auto fluid and solvents.

One Last Thing:

We get it. Mistakes happen. If you’ve accidentally flushed one of these things down the drain and it’s causing you and your septic system issues, don’t worry.

At Martin Septic not only do we sell and install quality septic systems, but we also help to maintain those that need it.

If you find that your septic system is damaged, backed up, or malfunctioning, we recommend you get in contact with us right away so we can investigate the issue and fix it as soon as possible and help in extending septic system life.

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