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Covid 19 & Your Septic System

 

Here at Essential Operations we are dedicated to making sure that your water and wastewater systems stay in good shape. But during these difficult times we want to remind you of what you should and shouldn’t do regarding your wastewater/septic systems while we are all adjusting to the Shelter in Place orders.

Your septic system relies on a natural process to breakdown waste. Bacteria from the gut enters the system and does much the same work breaking things down as they do inside your body. If you have an alternative treatment system these processes are still natural, just accelerated by various means such as adding oxygen, mixing, etc. Consider what you put down the drain and flush much like you consider what you put in your body. If it would harm you or make you feel ill, it can also do the same to the microbial population in your septic system.

 

The following will harm your septic systems: Antibacterial soaps, bleach, harsh chemicals, mop bucket water, wipes, fats, oil, grease, laundry detergent, even excessive water use.

Antibacterial soaps

Antibacterial hand soaps are not found to be any more effective than plain bar soap, yet they can be much more aggressive to the bacterial population in the septic system. It can slow them down and even begin to kill the population.

Bleach, harsh chemicals,
mop bucket water & wipes:

We have been advised to clean surfaces frequently, but avoid sending bleach and antibacterial cleaning products down the drain. Do not flush or pour mop water down the drain. Do not flush paper towels used for cleaning. Wipes should never be flushed.

Fats, oils or grease:

We are not eating out as much, and you may find that you are doing much more cooking than you used to. Fats, oils and greases should not go down the drain. This significantly increases the organic loading in a system. It can also impact filters.


If you have an enhanced treatment system, grease can affix to media that is critical to the treatment process. Do not use disposals or garbage grinders. These too can add to the organic loading. Seeds and vegetative matter can float and cause problems.

Frequent Laundry loads
and excessive water use in general:

We are home a lot more now. Water use could go up. Keep in mind that septic systems have a lifespan, most especially the dispersal system. Much of the treatment in a septic system relies on adequate time for things to settle and separate. Excessive use can short-circuit this process. This can result in particles that have not settled being carried throughout parts of your system or out of your system.


This can then result in filters clogging prematurely or worse particles getting to your drain field. Clogged filters can cause high level alarms and backups. Particles getting past filters to the dispersal field can both clog the spaces between soil particles and increase biological loading to the soil. Depending on the age of the system, previous use and frequency of maintenance and pumping, this can be significant in lessening the life of your dispersal area. The additional saturation alone can have much the same effect.