Septic Tank Diagram

Increasing Life of Septic Systems

A couple of the most common questions we get asked are “What can I safely put down my drains with my septic tank?” and “How can I keep my septic system healthy for longer?” In this article, we’re going to dive into what is and isn’t safe to put down drains on a septic system.

What is a septic system?

Septic systems are essentially a sewage system owned by a property owner when municipal sewage systems aren’t available at a property.

These systems work by having a septic tank that stores waste, and having a leach field attached to the tank to allow liquids to drain out into the ground.

Because a properly working septic system is able to drain liquids into the ground, pumping a septic tank is not usually necessary unless the tank is filled with solid waste.

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What shouldn’t be put down drains?


Generally, any cleaning chemical should not be put down the drains on a septic system. This is because a septic tank needs bacteria to break down solid waste (like toilet paper).

Putting cleaning chemicals down drains can kill off this vital bacteria, which will lead to more solids staying in the tank and requiring septic pumping regularly.

Drain cleaning chemicals also shouldn’t be used in septic systems because they can also kill off the necessary bacteria.

Furthermore, because drain cleaners are usually caustic or oxidizing, they should not be used in general, as they can eat through pipes sometimes, requiring pipes to be replaced.

The corrosive effect of drain cleaners on metal.
This is the effect of metal being exposed to sulfuric acid, the major component of many drain cleaners. Note the metal being damaged after only one minute of exposure.


Most solid materials should never be flushed down drains on septic systems. Most solids can not be broken down by the good bacteria in a septic system, and will require septic tank pumping to get these out of your system.

Do not flush:

  • Baby Wipes
  • Tampons
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Paper Towels
  • Toilet Seat Covers
  • Sanitary Napkins
  • Dryer Sheets
  • And others

For a system to last a long time, only flush septic safe toilet paper and stool.

Septic Tank Additives and Enzymes

We get asked about septic tank additives and enzymes regularly. Although these products market themselves as helpful to septic systems, these chemicals are snake oil. The EPA recommends (A Homeowner’s Guide to Septic Systems, Page 6) not using any of these chemicals, as the microbes contained in a septic system are all that is necessary to break down waste.

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Posted on September 02, 2021