Jump to content

Menu

New to Septic Tank--kitchen no-nos ???


Recommended Posts

We just bought a house with a septic tank and I e never lived on one before. I'm a heavy kitchen user (lots of veggies, cooking, bone broth, sometimes HFLC). I want to NOT mess up the septic system. 

There is an Insinkerator in the kitchen and in our last house, I've used mine heavily with no problem. I put "all the things" down in and it does just fine. Veggie scraps, meat/fat scraps, carrot peels, yucky leftovers, etc. What can I do/not do with a septic system?

TIA!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I put as little as possible.

 Things (eg toilet paper) designated as septic safe.  Human GI tract waste.  As little cleaners as possible...

I compost all vegetable etc waste. 

Left over bone broth would go to dog or cat. ...

simething too yucky for pets or compost would go into garbage

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

We have an aerobic system. I do not put much stuff down our garbage disposal as whatever we put in there ends up in the tank and we pay to have it pumped. Veggie peelings go in the compost heap. Oil, leftover food, etc - all that goes in the trash. We're not supposed to use bleach much either. The tank does seem to fill up faster with Charmin vs. White Cloud, but I could be imagining that. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

You're not really supposed to put all the things into a city septic system.  Fats, oils, and greases are a no no.  If you have a garden or landscaping, I'd consider composting vegetable scraps.  For soups, you should strain the solids out and put those in the trash.  Also, flushable wipes aren't really flushable, so don't do that anywhere either.  The rules are basically the same for all systems.  People just care more when they have to pay directly to fix problems.

  • Like 5
Link to post
Share on other sites

I scrape all plates before rinsing, so that only the tiniest bits of food go through the garbage disposer, and minimal grease or oil.  We only flush what comes out of our bodies, and toilet paper.  I don't use bleach, except under very rare circumstances (maybe once a year).  I bought some tablets that are like probiotics for the septic tank.  I'm supposed to flush one every month, or maybe every week(?), but I don't always remember.  I just flush one when I think of it.  :wink:

We're fortunate to have two leach fields, and I switch them once a year.  We have never had to have our tank pumped in 15 years.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've always had a septic tank, but I've never had a garbage disposal - I thought they were mutually exclusive.  I compost all my food scraps, including whatever gets caught in the sink drain trap.  I also use as little bleach as possible.

For fats and oils, I do what my mom did - I have a fat/grease jar on the counter, and any excess from a pan goes in there till it's full, then put a lid on it and in the trash.

Edited by Matryoshka
  • Like 5
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Laura Corin said:

We use as little bleach as possible and use septic safe detergents. Make sure to tell visitors not to flush tampons or towels.

 

I forgot about tampons.  Convincing people that these are not flushable is a HARD sell.  People just don't care.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Definitely switch to septic safe toilet paper. 

I have a garbage disposal, but use it sparingly. Mostly just for scraps of food that are left on plates after a meal. I either compost other food scraps or put them in the garbage. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I’ve spent most of my 56 years on a septic system. Never worried about using bleach as needed, but I’ve never been a heavy user anyway. Never worried about buying  any special type of toilet paper. I would be careful to not flush anything other than TP. I wouldn’t put any grease or food scraps down the drain. Our current house has a garbage disposal but I won’t use it. Not all systems need a pump, so that might not be something you need to be concerned with. We have ours pumped every three to five years. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, Pawz4me said:

I’ve spent most of my 56 years on a septic system. Never worried about using bleach as needed, but I’ve never been a heavy user anyway. Never worried about buying  any special type of toilet paper. I would be careful to not flush anything other than TP. I wouldn’t put any grease or food scraps down the drain. Our current house has a garbage disposal but I won’t use it. Not all systems need a pump, so that might not be something you need to be concerned with. We have ours pumped every three to five years. 

I've also never paid attention to any special TP, but I also don't buy the scented fluffy super-thick plush kind, just regular old TP.

Our septic does not have a pump, so no worries in a power outage (except that we don't have water, as our well does have a pump that needs electricity - so unless we run the generator, no flushing or other water without electricity anyway!!)

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

We put mesh baskets on the kitchen sink drains, & put the solids in the trash.
We put most TP in the wastebasket.
We had our septic tank pumped in 2003, after 10 years of home ownership.
The guy said ours was working well . . . so we haven't pumped it since.

If you start to see a backup (standing water in your yard near the tank), the solution is to call the septic tank pumping company.  😉
 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I just use the disposal for odd bits in the sink, not scraping plates or anything like cleaning the fridge.

fats oils and grease go into an old peanut butter jar or sour cream container and get thrown away.

cleaning fridge or plate scrapings go in the compost or to animals.

no special tp.

only flush tp. No tampons paper towels or cleaning wipes even the ones that say flushable.

you can buy some bugs when you’ve get started to flush but we only did that when we moved in.

i run like 2 loads of bleach laundry per month and it fine.

weve has septic for 18 years, had it pumped at year 10. The guy said it could’ve gone another 5 years at least. It wasn’t that full. Probably because we only flush tp and the bugs digested everything.

however our tank was installed brand new when we built the house so we didn’t inherit someone else’s poor management.

dont plant trees near your field lines. Don’t drive over them either.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

No FOG is the main thing—fat, oil, grease.

I heat up drippings and scrape them into a can to congeal before washing the pans.  

Also, avoid running too many water-intensive appliances in a row—take a bit of a break from shower to dishwasher to wash machine runs.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
37 minutes ago, Pawz4me said:

I’ve spent most of my 56 years on a septic system. Never worried about using bleach as needed, but I’ve never been a heavy user anyway. Never worried about buying  any special type of toilet paper. I would be careful to not flush anything other than TP. I wouldn’t put any grease or food scraps down the drain. Our current house has a garbage disposal but I won’t use it. Not all systems need a pump, so that might not be something you need to be concerned with. We have ours pumped every three to five years. 

I have had a septic tank for about 14 years total in two houses.  Never had either one pumped.  It probably depends on the geography but i have always been told if they are installed correctly and not abused they should never need to be pumped.  I never put tampons down them or condoms...but I always used bleach as needed....maybe a load or two of bleached clothes a week....I had a garbage disposal at the first house but I didn’t ever use it for massive quantities of food. ....really we have never had one problem with ours.  Also never used special toilet paper. 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Scarlett said:

I have had a septic tank for about 14 years total in two houses.  Never had either one pumped.  It probably depends on the geography but i have always been told if they are installed correctly and not abused they should never need to be pumped.  I never put tampons down them or condoms...but I always used bleach as needed....maybe a load or two of bleached clothes a week....I had a garbage disposal at the first house but I didn’t ever use it for massive quantities of food. ....really we have never had one problem with ours.  Also never used special toilet paper. 

This is true, according to my family members in the septic business. We've had our current septic tank for 22 years and it has never needed to be pumped.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, Scarlett said:

I have had a septic tank for about 14 years total in two houses.  Never had either one pumped.  It probably depends on the geography but i have always been told if they are installed correctly and not abused they should never need to be pumped.

I know people who've either never or only very rarely (like every 15-20 years) had their tank pumped. Most of them have eventually had a catastrophic failure, but whether the lack of pumping had anything to do with that or whether it was just age -- that I don't know. But septic guys will (not surprisingly, maybe) tell you that you should have it done regularly,  but that "regularly" depends on how many people you have using the system. I owned my first home for 15 years and never had it pumped until I got ready to sell it. But for most of those years it was just me, and then just me and DH, and we weren't home all that much, didn't do a ton of laundry, etc. Big difference between a family with little kids who are home quite a lot, lots of laundry and baths and flushing, etc. In the big picture of home ownership having a tank pumped every few years is a piddly amount (a few hundred dollars), and we always prefer to err on the side of maintenance rather than risk a big problem.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
17 minutes ago, Pawz4me said:

I know people who've either never or only very rarely (like every 15-20 years) had their tank pumped. Most of them have eventually had a catastrophic failure, but whether the lack of pumping had anything to do with that or whether it was just age -- that I don't know. But septic guys will (not surprisingly, maybe) tell you that you should have it done regularly,  but that "regularly" depends on how many people you have using the system. I owned my first home for 15 years and never had it pumped until I got ready to sell it. But for most of those years it was just me, and then just me and DH, and we weren't home all that much, didn't do a ton of laundry, etc. Big difference between a family with little kids who are home quite a lot, lots of laundry and baths and flushing, etc. In the big picture of home ownership having a tank pumped every few years is a piddly amount (a few hundred dollars), and we always prefer to err on the side of maintenance rather than risk a big problem.

This. A new septic (tank and lines) is expensive. Just as you wouldn’t fail to switch furnace filters as basic maintenance on your expensive furnace, same goes with septic. 

Essentially it’s a pit where bacteria digest and liquify waste. The liquid leaves the tank via leach lines. The solids stay to be further digested. If the bacteria can’t keep up with the waste (small tank or larger family) then it must be pumped. There are charts online  based on tank size.

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

We have ours pumped about every 5 years and that seems just about right for the number of people in our house vs the size of the tank. That ends up being about $5 a month that needs to be put aside for pumping the tank. I considered it to be just part of our household maintenance budget. We have no problems at all with flushable wipes and tampons being flushed. Does it cause the tank to need to be pumped more often? I don't know maybe but I really believe that every 5 years is nothing considering we've had as many as 8 - 10 people living in our three bedroom house with a septic system sized for a family of 4 - 5.

I don't stress too much over little bits of food going down the kitchen drain. We don't have a disposer. Most of the leftover bits of food go to the dogs or the birds. We can't put a lot of food in the trash because it encourages animals of all kinds to dig in our trash and make a mess so we try to be very careful to not have food go too bad for the animals to eat. Vegetable scraps and the like go in the compost pile.

For meat grease, such as when I brown some ground beef for dinner,  I have metal strainers like these ones, an old plastic heat resistant bowl from a thrift store that I drilled a hole in the bottom and a glass pickle jar that I have saved for the purpose. When I'm ready to drain the grease, I get all three things out and put the biggest strainer in the bowl and then put the bowl on top of the open pickle jar. Once the grease is all strained out and in the jar, I put the lid on and keep it in the drawer under the sink. It takes a month or two for the jar to fill up with grease. Once it is full, I put the whole jar in the trash and start filling a new repurposed pickle jar. Our pickle consumption seems to keep up with my need for a new grease jar so this little system works for me. They make containers for this purpose that you can wash out and reuse but then I am going to have to clean the grease out somehow and I just don't want to deal with it honestly. There is no smell and the grease has never molded or gone rotten on me while I'm still working on filling the jar before throwing it away. I also pour any excess grease from a roast or a chicken that I roast whole. Sometimes I pour oil from fried chicken in the jar too but often it is so gritty and I'm afraid of putting anything other than pure grease in there and it going rancid and starting to smell so that usually gets scraped into some bag bound for the trash anyways so that it goes out immediately.

A lot of people around here will have one spot at the edge of their property where they dump kitchen scraps if they don't have pets to eat the scraps. The idea being that if they put them in the trash, the raccoons and opposums will try to get it regardless but if they are conditioned that the "good stuff" is in the one spot, far away from the trash cans, they might be less likely to mess with the trash cans and make a mess searching for food. It mostly works and it definitely less work than trying to secure your trash cans tighter than Fort Knox to keep them out but I prefer just making sure we always have animals that will eat the leftovers for us so we don't need to lure the local wildlife away from our trash lol.

Another thing to know about septic systems, know exactly where your tank is and the drain field. We had a willow tree try to start growing right next to our drain field. We don't have any willow trees on our property so I have no idea how the seed made its way to our property  but willow roots are invasive and will tear up the drain field. As much as I would have loved to have the willow tree that volunteered to grow there, I had to cut it down and douse it with poison to make sure it was dead and the roots could no longer spread. It would cost way too much to replace the drain field because of one wayward willow tree. The drain field is most likely in whatever area of your yard is the greenest near the septic tank but the city or county records should have a map of the exact locations of both the tank and drain field.

Link to post
Share on other sites

This is the first house I've owned with a septic system. I can't say I'm an expert on the care and keeping of the system, but *knock wood*, we seem to be ok so far.  We had the tank pumped at the 4 year mark and the guy that did it felt it was appropriate for the number of people in our home and the size of the tank. He said we could have waited a little longer to do it, but why tempt fate?

Our laundry grey water does *not* go through the septic system; ours empties out into the side yard, which saves some wear and tear on the system.  Some of my friends have septic systems and say they can't do too many loads of laundry in a row, otherwise it will overwhelm their system?  

I don't use a lot of bleach or antibacterial cleaners.  We do have a garbage disposal on the kitchen sink, but it is mostly for the little bits and scraps that don't make it into the trash. Veggie scraps generally go to the chickens. When we've painted, I avoid washing the brushes in the sink because I don't want that stuff in the septic system.  No grease down the drain. I try to scrape off as much as possible from the pans before they hit the dishwasher.  

I admit I was really worried that the drain field would get overwhelmed during hurricane Harvey and we'd have an enormous problem, but everything was fine. We get heavy rains in the spring that make me fret a little, but so far there has been no calamity of the system backing up into the house. (Again, *knock wood*) 

It probably depends on the size and type of your system how often you'll need someone to come out and pump it, or if it needs pumping at all.  I think eventually *most* systems will need pumping. There's going to be trace amounts of grease and grossness that end up in the system and they'll accumulate over time. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I’ve almost always lived with a septic.  I’m not completely obsessive about it, but I am careful about some things. 

Never had a disposal, so can’t speak to that. I avoid grease/fats whenever possible, but that’s not just a septic thing. Who wants build up in their pipes? Some does inevitably get down there, though. I use pretty typical toilet paper. (Charmin Essentials, generally.). I avoid harsh cleansers.  No flushed tampons.  No “flushable” wipes.

When there’s heavy rains or heavy snow melt, I lower my water use. (Mainly multiple laundry loads or longer showers.) I don’t want to overwhelm the drain field.

The key to efficiency is bacteria breaking down waste. I don’t want bleach slowing that down. And clogs past the main drains (think tampon strings or clumped foods) could cost a fortune to uncover.

We do not get ours pumped as often as recommended, because it hasn’t filled as quickly as expected. I like to think it’s because we keep it doing its job.  (Ours is rated 5-bedroom on a 3-bedroom house, but we squeeze lots of people in here!)

Link to post
Share on other sites

My dh works for a municipal water/wastewater system. He says “flushable” wipes are the bane of their existence. They don’t break down. They just make big wads that bind up their machinery. There’s litigation in some areas about manufacturers calling them “flushable” because they’re that big of a problem.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

You really need to find out what kind of system you have. Here in Texas, we can only install aerobic systems should an older one fail. I think all new construction for the past 15 years have had aerobic unless they were in the city. 

http://www.septicsolutionstexas.com/Types.htm

Like I said up thread, ours is aerobic. We can either have a yearly contract for quarterly inspections ($260-$350/year)  or we can attend official training and do it ourselves. We do our own inspections. We do have to add bleach tablets in one part approximately monthly. Bleach down the household drains can harm the aerobic bacteria. 

Edited by Bambam
Link to post
Share on other sites

We do following the general guidelines other people of have posted...easy on bleach, no food, etc.  I also agree that installation, maintenance and location all matter to your personal situation.

Our home is about 60 years old and we're the third owners. After talking to neighbors (that have been here since the neighborhood was built) and knowing the type of work the building inspector did (or didn't do🙄)  We've chosen to pump every year.  It's about $125 and I try to be home and ask the company if they see anything unusual.

We did add a lockable green cover.   I have adventurous boys (and their friends) that figured out they could lift storm drain covers. I didn't want them to move onto the septic system. 😳

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=septic+tank+lid&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI6O3BssjO5QIVjZ-zCh12iwDZEAMYASAAEgLEEvD_BwE&hvadid=177791535795&hvdev=c&hvlocphy=9002171&hvnetw=g&hvpos=1o1&hvqmt=b&hvrand=5280063274258045810&hvtargid=kwd-174609803&hydadcr=8431_9886305&tag=googhydr-20&ref=pd_sl_6slefvovvd_b

Edited by amyx4
Link to post
Share on other sites

We had a septic field in another house for twenty years and am on one now in a rental. I don't cook with a lot of fats, generally wipe out pans and such that have a little grease with a paper towel before rinsing to be sure. Little bleach, and I'm careful what types of detergent and cleaning supplies I use.

In the other house, we pumped every five years because that seemed about right, and we live in a climate where repairs are required periodically. When we sold that house, there had been a very hard winter months before, and it did require a concrete repair.

In the current house, my landlord said we'd probably pump every 3-5 years. We hope to be out by then, and my lease does say it must be pumped as part of check-out. 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Minimize grease and fat down the drains. To achieve this . . .

1. Keep old jars near the stove top, and pour your grease into old jar. Then throw it away when it's full. Then start a new jar. (If you go through a lot of jars, like we do (ice cream toppings . .. we have an ice cream obsession.), then you can easily throw away jars frequently. 

2. Keep a stack of paper plates handy near the stove top, to pour grease into if it's too messy/big to pour into a jar. Put one of those plates under the jar when you're pouring fat in there (to collect spills.)

Minimize scraps down the drain. To achieve this . . .

1. peel right over the trash can if it's handy. If not, peel over the plastic bag the veggies came in or a paper towel. Throw away.

Avoid toxic crap down the drain. To achieve this . . .

1. No drano.

2. For home improvement/painting/other chemical stuff . . .pour off toxic liquid into a jar or coffee can or other container, ideally lined with a cardboard box or paper towels or newspaper -- something absorbent. Then throw it away. 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...