Can You Use a Garbage Disposal if You Have a Septic Tank?

Last updatedLast updated: August 26, 2021
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According to a 2015 report, about a fifth of households in the USA are connected to a septic tank system. Among that number are those that are thinking about adding a waste disposal system to their system. There is different advice about whether you can use a garbage disposal if you already have a septic tank. Are these two systems compatible? Do you need special disposal? In this post, we will consider the answers to these questions. You will know whether you can use a garbage disposal with a septic tank. At the end of this post, you will have enough information to make a good decision.

Do garbage disposal and a septic system work together?

Can You Use a Garbage Disposal if You Have a Septic Tank?

One thing that you should know is that septic systems run on a delicate process. Thus, you cannot just throw anything into these systems. If you do, you run the risk of causing complications. And these problems can range from simple to more complicated issues that involve spending a lot of money to get them fixed. Many of our readers have asked whether it is alright to use garbage disposals and septic systems together.

Consideration of many of the models on the market reveals that many of them say that there is no problem with using the two together. However, in this article, we will learn the truth about this.

From our tone, you have probably surmised that we do not agree that using the two systems together is ideal. Why? Well, our objections arise for different reasons.

First, the design of the septic tank is inimical to using a garbage disposal. The septic tank is designed as a large tank with water and waste from the home. The solid waste drops to the bottom, where it is broken down by bacteria. The liquid is transferred to the drain field, and the last layer is a layer of scum on the top.

If your garbage disposal is connected to your septic tank, you will have fats, food wastes, and other stuff inside the septic tank, all of which can cause problems in the system. How?

Well, when the garbage disposal is connected to the septic system, you are adding excess waste to the tank, and the waste will not be broken down in the environment.

One of the main arguments on why the septic tank and garbage disposal should not be combined is the bacteria issue. The bacterial culture in a septic tank is balanced and is vital to the treatment of wastewater.

Therefore, if you add more organic matter (from garbage disposal) than the bacteria can handle, it can upset the bacteria levels and cause eventual blockage in the tank, which will require frequent pumping and repairs.

If you have a garbage disposal, you need to pump it at least twice a year, depending on your regularity of use.

Now, does this mean that you can never use a septic tank and garbage disposal? No. With the right products, you can combine the two systems.

The things you should never put down your garbage disposal

While you can put small food scraps and dishwasher outlets down the garbage disposal, there are some things that you should never put through the disposal.

Don’t treat the disposal like a dustbin. And not all foods should be passed through the disposal. Some of the wastes that you should not put at the disposal include fats, oils, and similar wastes. If you put them, they will not break down in the tank, will accumulate, and will cause blockages in the tank.

In summary, here are the things to avoid putting down the disposal:

  • Cooking oils
  • Non-food items
  • Fibrous foods and vegetables

How to use a garbage disposal and avoid problems with your septic system?

Although it is not encouraged to use the two systems together, you can still use them safely. The biggest challenge to using the septic tank and garbage disposal is the bacterial imbalance that comes from using the two. To get over this obstacle, you can use enzyme additives. Adding these into your tank will reduce the chances of a bacterial imbalance in the tank.

For instance, the Cabin Obsession tank treatment can help you to avoid blockages in the tank.

The model of garbage disposal that you buy also plays a role. There are some garbage disposal models that inject enzymes right into the tank whenever you pass any waste through the garbage disposal. Others will send the waste to landfills. An example of this type of disposal is the Moen GX50C model.

Final thoughts

The septic tank will work correctly as long as you treat it the right way. Including a waste disposal as part of what it should break down might do more harm than good and cost you more. A garbage disposal with a septic tank is not advised, although it is possible if you follow the tips provided above.

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