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SEPTIC SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR
SEPTIC CARE INSTRUCTIONS
SEPTIC D-BOX INSPECTION
SEPTIC DRAINFIELD FAILURE DIAGNOSIS
SEPTIC DYE TEST PROCEDURE
SEPTIC FAILURE SIGNS
SEPTIC INSPECTION & TEST GUIDE
SEPTIC LIFE EXPECTANCY
SEPTIC SUPPLIES & PARTS
SEPTIC SYSTEM DESIGN ALTERNATIVES
SEPTIC SYSTEM DESIGN BASICS
SEPTIC SYSTEMS, HOME BUYERS GUIDE to
SEPTIC SYSTEM SAFETY WARNINGS
SEPTIC TREATMENTS & CHEMICALS
SEWAGE BACKUP PREVENTION
SEWAGE EJECTOR / GRINDER PUMPS
SEWER GAS ODORS
SEWER LINE REPLACEMENT
SINKHOLES, WARNING SIGNS
SOAKAWAY BED FAILURE DIAGNOSIS
SULPHUR & SEWER GAS SMELL SOURCES
TOILETS, INSPECT, INSTALL, REPAIR
TRAPS on PLUMBING FIXTURES
TREATMENTS & CHEMICALS, SEPTIC
VIDEO GUIDES: Septic Videos
WATER CONSERVATION MEASURES
WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
WATER SUPPLY & DRAIN PIPING
WATER, WELLS, WATER TANKS: TESTING GUIDE
WASHING MACHINES & SEPTIC SYSTEMS
WASTEWATER TREATMENT BASICS
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
What typical household chemicals and substances are safe to flush down the toilet and into a private septic system? Is it ok to flush common household chemicals & household cleaners cleaners into the septic tank? Which household chemicals may damage the septic tank or leach fields and at what levels of usage are they harmful? This document explains how to extend the life of the septic system by being careful about what goes into it.
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Technical review, content suggestions, critique are welcomed and are listed at "References." This article is part of our series: Inspecting, Testing, & Maintaining Residential Septic Systems an online book on septic systems.
Normal levels of household cleaning, detergents, fabric softeners, shampoos, and bath soap, at normal levels of household use are sufficiently dilute when they reach the septic tank that they should not be a problem for a conventional septic tank and drainfield system.
However clothes washing machine and dishwashing machine detergents commonly contain phosphates and surfactants which are environmental contaminants.
Laundry detergents & soaps used in washing machines & dishwashers are discussed separately at WASHING MACHINES & SEPTIC SYSTEMS
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Question: what causes drain clogging or septic pump clogging by a white waxy substance?
What causes the large amount of white waxy clumpy substance that i found recently in my septic pump container? The substance was stuck to the sides of the tank(severeal inches thick), stuck all over the pump, and stuck all over the float switch which of course was the problem and the reason for opening the septic tank. This goopy accumulation happened over 2 years and 5 months.
I can't be certain what the white stuff was without seeing a sample in our forensic lab. But I can warn that using more powdered detergent in a dishwasher or clothes washer can lead to accumulation of a gooey mess that clogs drains or even septic drainfields. You've added another important example: excessive detergent use OR using a budget detergent that contains large amounts of clay fillers can clog the pump float control switch or the pump intake in a sewage ejector pump or sewer pump as well.
We discuss detergent choices & recommendations to minimize drain and septic problems in two locations. Please see
WASHING MACHINES & SEPTIC SYSTEMS and also see Dishwasher & Laundry Detergents Containing Phosphates & Surfactants for a discussion of the effects of phosphates & detergents on the environment.
Question: is it better to use powdered laundry soap or liquid dishwasher soap?
Do you use powdered laundry and dishwasher soap instead of liquid? I've heard that stuff will not dissolve and cause problems in pipes and septics. - Anon 11/19/2012
Anon, please see my answer to Rani just above.
In response to your query, in the article above I've added links to more information about recommended dishwasher & laundry detergents. In general, powdered detertents, used in the amounts recommended, should not clog the drain piping but used in excess amount (which is common) or if you use bargain brands of detergents that have clay fillers, the risk of clogged drain piping and perhaps drainfields is real as is the risk of clogging a sewage pump discussed just above. There are also other concerns about environmental contamination from ingredients in some products
Questions & answers or comments about problems with the operation of aerobic septic systems
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Technical Reviewers & References
Related Topics, found near the top of this page suggest articles closely related to this one.
Design Manuals for Septic Systems
Onsite Wastewater Disposal Books