Are Garbage Disposals Safe for Septic Systems?

October 14, 2021 Published by Leave your thoughts

Part of being a responsible homeowner is taking proper care of your septic system. Knowing what you can and can’t put down the drain can extend the life of your septic system and prevent you from having to call a repair technician.

But whether you can use a garbage disposal with a septic system is a bit of a gray area. There are certain precautions you can take regarding your garbage disposal and septic system—that’s what we’ll cover here with these FAQs.

How does a septic tank work?

A septic tank holds all the waste that was flushed down your home’s toilet and drains. It separates the liquids from the solids, with the solids sinking to the bottom of the tank. The liquid matter on top slowly accumulates, forming a sludge layer that decreases the tank’s capacity over time. Good bacteria break down the solid material in the tank, and the water is eventually released into the drain field.

How does a garbage disposal work?

A garbage disposal is a metal-grinding machine that’s placed in a drain on one side of the sink. It helps break down food waste. Though it’s a complicated machine, it’s simple to operate and is a viable alternative to throwing food in the garbage can.

Can you use a garbage disposal with a septic system?

Yes, you can use a garbage disposal and septic system together, but keep in mind how both machines function. Anything you put down the garbage disposal will end up in the septic tank, and if you’re not careful about what you put down it, you could run into problems.

You should try to limit the use of your garbage disposal and refrain from putting grease, oils, fats and nonbiodegradable materials (among other things that we’ll cover later) into it.

Why is it bad to put large amounts of solid food down a garbage disposal?

Your septic tank is specifically designed to break down human waste products and toilet paper. A septic tank can break down toilet paper much better than a full strawberry, for example.

Excessive use of a garbage disposal can lead to a rapid accumulation of materials in your septic tank that it cannot break down, and this could mean you’d have to have it serviced more often than usual or that it might stop working entirely.

How can I use a garbage disposal responsibly?

Start by using it sparingly. When you do use it, make sure to chop food up before putting it in, and run cold water while you use it. You can add a bit of dish soap after doing dishes, and make sure to run it often with nothing in it to prevent rusting and corrosion.

There’s a long list of things to avoid putting down your garbage disposal to save your septic system. This includes coffee grinds, eggshells, oils, fats, grease, pasta, rice, beans, potato peels, pits and seeds.

You should also avoid putting stringy vegetable materials down your garbage disposal like corn husks, asparagus and celery. Don’t put non-food items down your garbage disposal either, as this is even worse for your septic system.

Call for your septic service today

With some care, it’s possible to use a garbage disposal with a septic system. If you need help with your garbage disposal or septic system, call us at Cleveland Septic. We’re the industry leaders in septic maintenance, repair and installation, and we’re available 24/7.

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