Many property owners in the United States must use on-site waste water treatment systems, or septic systems, to treat organic waste water created on their property. Estimates are that somewhere between one-quarter to one-third of all waste water is treated by property owners with septic systems.
Since these systems are underground, they are often forgotten about. But when problems occur, homeowners remember how expensive this asset is. Therefore, it is only natural for these property owners to want to maintain their septic system and keep it working efficiently for as long as possible. Unfortunately, they fall for the hype from television commercials for sellers of septic system additives who claim that their products will revive and keep septic systems flowing freely along with extending the time between septic tank pumping.
These assertions, however, are absolutely untrue! In fact, studies conducted by the Kansas State University and Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service found the opposite to be true. DeAnn Presley, K-State Research and Extension soil management specialist said:
“This research has found no benefit in septic tank function to using any type of septic system additives. In fact, some additives potentially could be detrimental to the function or components of the septic system or to groundwater quality.”1
Presley further added:
“One research study, for example, found that the use of a biological additive caused the solid sludge layer at the bottom of the septic tank to decompose too rapidly. This led to rapid gas production.”2
The county and city of Peoria, Illinois, alerts consumers that the use of septic tank additives is not warranted. They say:
“…………..don’t use septic tank additives (these do not help and sometimes can be harmful to your system.)”3
You could spend days searching the Internet and never find a single scientific study that concludes that any septic tank additive works. The reason, despite manufacturers’ and sellers’ claims, is that there simply isn’t any research that proves the effectiveness of these additives. Most research has, in fact, suggested just the opposite; septic tank additives are harmful to septic tank systems.
Some scam artists urge that bacteria or enzymes be added to new or recently pumped septic tanks. They claim the bacteria are needed to help dissolve waste. Wrong! Human waste supplies the septic tank with ample quantities of bacteria for the septic tank to break down waste efficiently.
Research by two universities, however, does prove that aeration of the water in a septic tank changes the bacterial environment from anaerobic to aerobic, allowing up to 40 times more active bacteria to consume and break down organic waste in the septic tank and the drainfield. Studies from Purdue University4 and Baylor University5 concluded that the addition of an aeration system to a septic tank improved the over all system operation and prevented early septic system failures.
So, don’t be taken in by scam artists who offer nothing but empty promises. Only a controlled aeration of a septic tank can convert the system from an anaerobic to aerobic environment. This conversion has shown to be a valuable tool in the treatment of wastewater by septic tank systems and reviving failed or failing septic systems.