The Essential Plumbing Resource For Homeowners

Garbage Disposals and Your Septic System

Garbage disposals are a modern convenience that make dishes and associated tasks so much easier, but they can wreak havoc if you are on a private septic system. Knowing how to properly use the garbage disposal and maintain your septic system can help you avoid problems. 

Disposal Concerns

Garbage disposals grind up food waste so it can flow down sewer drains without causing clogs. Although they can be effective in this regard, when the drain empties into the limited confines of a septic tank, though, there can be a problem. Excessive food debris can quickly fill up the septic tank so that it must be pumped more often than inspected. If it isn't pumped more often, then the tank overfills.

There is also an issue with throwing off the balance in the septic tank so that the microbes can't properly break down the waste. Certain items that may make their way through the garbage disposal, like excessive amounts of grease or non-food items, can throw off the balance in the septic system.

Proper Usage

It is possible to enjoy the convenience of the garbage disposal while on a septic system. The first key is to never put grease, fats, oils, or nonfood items down the garbage disposal. This will also prevent damage to the disposal itself, as well as keeping your septic system happy.

Further, a garbage disposal shouldn't be treated as a garbage can. Continue to scrape plates before washing them, for example, and don't rinse vegetable peelings, egg shells, or coffee grounds down the sink. Simply use the disposal only to clear the drain when small amounts of debris get stuck in the drain. 

Septic Maintenance

Proper maintenance of the septic system itself will also prevent the garbage disposal from impacting the system's health. Your tank should be pumped every one to three years on average. This way there is no chance of damage or overfilling from the small amounts of excess material flowing into the tank from the garbage disposal. 

The tank must also be inspected at the time of pumping. This way the tank is never overfull and your drain field won't become clogged with sewage or debris from the garbage disposal. Your technician can also spot developing issues with the microbial balance early, so you can change garbage disposal habits before a major problem develops. 

Contact a septic system pumping service for more assistance or if you have further questions.