For many homeowners, purchasing a liquid drain cleaner may seem like a reasonable solution to repeated backups and septic system problems. In fact, these additives do not address the root cause of septic issues and may even worsen the problem of slow draining and backflows into household plumbing. Here are some of the primary issues with tank additives and some better choices for managing your household septic system more effectively.
The truth about lye
Most of the drain cleaners sold in local grocery stores are primarily composed of sodium hydroxide and sodium hypochlorite compounds mixed with other inert materials or detergents. This mixture is more commonly referred to as lye, and it can cause serious damage to plastic and rubber fittings and metal pipes. While infrequent use is unlikely to create leaks or breakages right away, these highly caustic substances can cause major deterioration for various elements of your plumbing system if used to manage ongoing septic system problems. Avoiding these harsh chemical solutions can prolong the life of all elements in your home septic system, allowing you to enjoy additional years of proper function from your current tank and drainfield.
While these natural additives are unlikely to do the same level of harm to pipes and fixtures as caustic lye solutions, they typically provide little benefit and may be a waste of money for many homeowners. The problem in most septic tank systems is not the number of bacteria present but rather the efficiency with which these septic tank bacteria perform their decomposition tasks. Adding more anaerobic bacteria to your tank generally does little to improve its overall function; in fact, the added organic matter represented by these additives may actually create more clogging and overflow problems inside the septic tank.
Many septic tank issues can be remediated quickly and effectively by changing the type of bacteria present and working inside the tank. A septic aerator can be a solid investment that can increase the life of the system and can reduce the incidence of backups and slow draining due to septic system overload. By substituting aerobic bacteria for the anaerobic bacteria already present within the tank, these systems can provide faster decomposition and reduce the risk of septic tank failure.
Avoiding the use of caustic lye and sulfuric acid compounds can preserve the life of your plumbing fixtures, seals and gaskets. Addressing the problem at its source by installing a septic aeration system can provide added decomposition power and may reduce the risk of backflows and slow drainage for many homeowners.