Around one quarter of all homes in the United States are not connected to a sanitary sewer system. These homeowners have to maintain their own on-site sewage processing system, which includes their septic tank. Most people do this by using a proven and time tested septic tank maintenance best practice: pumping it out every three to five years.
Most states have concluded that the addition of organic or biological septic tank additives that are supposed to lengthen the time between the pumping of septic tank sludge, in fact, do nothing but waste your hard earned money. Worse, they may hasten the failure of your septic tank system that can lead to repairs or replacement costing $15,000 or more.
Some states have banned the use of additives. In states that have not banned additives, individual local governments may have stepped up to the plate and done so. This is not government interference; it is intervention for the protection of the naïve homeowner.
There is not a single scientific study that has shown that septic tank additives do any good at all. University studies do link both chemical and biological septic tank additives to premature failure of septic tanks. Sometimes the damage is not readily visible but dangerous chemicals escape containment from septic tanks and contaminate ground water. These pollutants eventually make their way back to the fresh water supply. Those who use a septic tank and have a well for fresh water must be especially vigilant that they do not contaminate their own drinking water.
Many hardware stores push septic tank additives. Television advertisements for these products are bountiful and even septic tank maintenance companies try to sell them to property owners to make additional money. They know, however, the stuff does not work.
Funds for educating the public about the worthlessness of these products as well as the damage they do cause are scant. Furthermore, no government can compete with the industry of septic tank cleaning products. Many of these products are made by large companies that have the money to mount aggressive marketing campaigns. One thing is certain, though, and that is the primary benefactor of the purchase of a septic tank additive is the maker of the additive.
The next time anyone attempts to sell you an organic, inorganic or biological septic tank treatment, ask if they can counter the United States Environmental Protection Agency (http://www.epa.gov/nrmrl/pubs/625r00008/html/fs1.htm) stance that all three of these kinds of additives are, at best, useless and, for the most part, dangerous. Or perhaps they would want to answer why the Florida Department of Health (http://www.myfloridaeh.com/ostds/brochure/brocoper.htm) says:
Various products are on the market which are said to start, accelerate or improve the action in the septic tank. Since all necessary bacteria are already present in the sewage entering the system, such products are not recommended.
Also, the Kitsap County Health District in Washington State says the following concerning septic tank additives:
The Kitsap County Health District (http://www.kitsapcountyhealth.com/environmenta_health/onsite/oss_basics.htm) and most engineers/sanitation professionals believe that commercial septic
system additives are not effective (even potentially harmful) to an onsite sewage system.
The reasons for this include:
• No known additives can reduce solids sufficiently to make pumping unnecessary.
• Household wastewater contains an abundant supply of microorganisms that provide for the
proper functioning of your system.
• Some additives cause problems with the drainfield.
Unlike additives, there are measures you can take to make your septic system more efficient and resolve many septic system problems. A controlled aeration of your septic tank is one of these measures. It has been studied by two universities that agreed that septic aeration can be very beneficial for a septic system.