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Can You Use a Garbage Disposal with a Septic System?

March 28, 2024

At first glance, garbage disposals and septic systems seem to do the same thing – dispose of waste. However, their mechanics differ vastly.

Septic systems are intricate and include elements such as the primary drain line, septic tank, distribution box, and drain field, all of which work together to separate wastewater into solids, effluent, and scum.

A garbage disposal, on the other hand, is designed to pulverize food waste into small particles, which are flushed down the drain with water.

While both systems serve to manage waste, municipal sewer systems are a separate entity that handles wastewater on a larger scale.

The coordination of these two systems requires finesse.

A garbage disposal increases the amount of solid waste entering the septic tank, which can potentially impede the system’s ability to effectively separate solids from liquids.

The disposal’s grinding ability also plays a pivotal role in determining the size of the particles entering the septic system.

Pros and Cons of Integrating a Garbage Disposal with Your Septic Tank

integrating garbage disposal with septic tankIntegrating a garbage disposal with a septic tank can have its benefits.

For instance, it can potentially reduce the amount of food waste being introduced into the tank. However, there are drawbacks.

For example, non-biodegradable items and fats can disrupt the septic system, leading to more frequent pump-outs and increased likelihood of problems.

Garbage disposals can also elevate the solids in the tank, leading to potential complications such as overloading the septic tank, disturbing the bacterial equilibrium, and possibly causing clogs and heightened maintenance expenses.

Given that, you should only dispose of biodegradable food in the garbage disposal. Cleaning the garbage disposal’s walls consistently will also help prevent buildup.

Using Your Garbage Disposal Sparingly

Excessive use of a garbage disposal can overload the septic system, leading to blockages and costly maintenance, as it interferes with the essential process of waste breakdown by natural bacteria.

In this section, we’ll take a look at how to use a garbage disposal properly, the correct methods for grinding food waste, and the foods that should be avoided in your disposal, including certain food scraps.

The Right Way to Grind Food Debris

Avoid running hot water when using the garbage disposal. That can lead to grease accumulation and clog the drain. Run a continuous flow of cool water into the sink instead.

Chopping up food residue before feeding it into the disposal will also ease the grinding process.

Foods That Should Never Go Down Your Disposal

foods that should never go down disposalWhile garbage disposals are convenient, they are not meant for all types of foods. Certain things should never go down the drain, including:

  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Oats
  • Nuts
  • Bones
  • Coffee grounds
  • Fibrous materials such as corn husks, celery stalks, onion skins, and artichokes.

These foods can cause damage to a garbage disposal by tangling, jamming the motor, and blocking drains.

Not only that but it can also disturb the equilibrium of the septic tank system, leading to potential breakdowns or backups. Consider tossing them in the compost bin instead.

Washing Dishes with a Disposal

There are a few things that you want to consider when washing dishes in a sink that has a garbage disposal. Here are some tips:

  • Conserve water and use the trash instead of the disposal when possible
  • Use septic-safe soaps
  • Adhere to the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions for the garbage disposal

Choosing the Right Equipment: Septic Assist Garbage Disposal

If you’re keen on having a garbage disposal unit and want to ensure that it harmonizes with your septic system, consider investing in a septic assist garbage disposal.

These specialized disposal units are designed with septic systems in mind and employ bio-charge cartridges, which help with the decomposition of food residue and will uphold the proper functioning of the septic system.

One such model is the Evolution Septic Assist, which uses Bio-Charge injection technology to automatically introduce enzyme-producing microorganisms into the septic system every time it is activated.

Regular Maintenance and Pumping Schedules

regular maintenancec and pumping schedulesConsistent maintenance is key to a healthy septic system, particularly when it is integrated with a garbage disposal.

Research has shown that the use of a garbage disposal may lead to a need for septic tanks to be pumped twice as frequently, due to the greater accumulation of solids from food particles being ground up.

The recommended maintenance schedule involves inspecting and pumping the septic tank every 2-3 years, along with implementing efficient water usage, proper waste disposal, and drain field care.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Common problems with septic systems and garbage disposals include clogs and malfunctions.

Some of the most common culprits include fats, oils, and grease; non-degradable materials; excess water; tree roots; and garbage.

To unclog a drain in the septic system, follow these steps:

  1. Pour ½ cup of white vinegar into the drain, covering it immediately with a stopper or rag to keep the bubbles in the drain
  2. After 2 minutes, pour another ½ cup of vinegar
  3. After 30 minutes, flush the drain with hot water

When to Call in the Professionals

There are times, despite our best efforts, when it is necessary to seek professional help. Here are a few signs that it may be time to call in the pros:

  • consistently low water levels
  • sewage backup in your home or yard
  • slow or clogged drains
  • foul odors
  • gurgling sounds
  • septic systems attached to your property showing signs of malfunction

Garbage Disposal With Septic System – Summary

Garbage disposals and septic systems can coexist, but they require careful use and maintenance.

Using a garbage disposal sparingly, grinding food waste correctly, avoiding certain foods, investing in a septic assist garbage disposal, and maintaining regular maintenance and pumping schedules can all help maintain a healthy balance in your septic system.

Using a Garbage Disposal with a Septic System – FAQs

What is the best garbage disposal for a septic system?

best garbage disposal for septic systemThe best garbage disposal for a septic system is the Evolution Septic Assist 3/4 HP Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal, which is specially designed for homes with septic systems.

Is it OK to have a dishwasher with a septic system?

Yes, it is safe to have a dishwasher with a septic system.

Just be cautious about what you send down the pipes, like you would with your toilet and sink.

Is it OK to have a garbage disposal with a septic tank?

Yes, you can have a garbage disposal with a septic tank, but you want to take extra precautions and preventative measures to avoid disrupting the septic system’s functioning.

How often should a septic tank be pumped?

Ideally, you want to schedule a professional septic tank pumping every two to five years or when the sludge level exceeds one-third of the tank’s volume.

That will help maintain the proper functioning of the septic system.

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Ethan Clarke

Ethan Clarke is a seasoned expert in appliances and household waste systems. Referencing his extensive experience as an appliance repairman, Ethan shares his invaluable knowledge through detailed maintenance & troubleshooting manuals. Ethan’s insights help homeowners understand and maintain their appliances efficiently, ensuring longevity and optimal performance. He’s here to provide practical, easy-to-follow advice for all your appliance needs.

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