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Question on maintenance of a septic system/tank? rid ex?

LongTownFellow Member Posts: 14
In order to keep the septic system in top functioning condition, the following is recommended:

1) Minimize the use of household chemicals.
2) Do not use a garbage disposer.
3) Do not use your toilet as a trash can.
4) Do not put anything in the toilet that did not come out of you, except tiolet paper.
5) Have the tank pumped on a regular basis, more frequently if the system is servicing a large family. Every 2-3 years is a good interval for your average family.
6) Bacterial enhancements are unnecessary, human waste is full of bacteria.


  • Joe.G
    Joe.G Member Posts: 213
    Question on maintenance of a septic system/tank? rid-ex?

    Hi, I have a steel septic tank and i was wondering what kind of upkeep do i need to give to it? I had a problem at my old house (actually it was only 4 years old and the septic backed up) and the guy that came to fix it said I should use rid ex, is this stuff good?
    is it worth it?
    I can get to my septic tank and look in it I have a manhole type cover should I pour the rid ex right in it or flush it down the toilet?
    also how do I know what size tank I have? because the rid ex boxes I have been using are the big ones that say for 1,500 gallon tanks?
    P.S how long do the tanks usually last? thanks a lot
  • Richard Miller_2
    Richard Miller_2 Member Posts: 139

    This is a heating website.

    But I will comment on one thing. Dump the Rid-X. It is garbage and a rip off even though the price is cheap. Use Bio-Clean or something similar.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 21,860
    pump em out

    on a regular basis, the pros tell me. Maybe a three year plan. Stay away from harsh chemicals that kill the bacteria that breakdown the solids. Check the condition of the baffles when it's pumped.

    Bio Clean helps this. There was an excellent post on septic maintenance on a plumbing chat list recently. Maybe I can still pull it up for you.

    hot rod

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    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
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  • Richard Miller_2
    Richard Miller_2 Member Posts: 139
    I believe...

    a lot of this information is incorrect.

    Numbers 2, 5, and 6 are just someones opinion and have nothing to do with the facts.

    Pumping that often is a total waste and actually is a bad thing IF you have a healthy septic system.

    And garbage disposers have nothing to do with that.

    Why go to the expense, hassle, and mess of pumping a system if you can keep it operating in top notch order through adding high quality bacteria and enzyme products?

    The only reason to pump that often is because something is not working right. Fix the problem. Don't just put a bandaid on it.

    If the system is undersized you can often still avoid pumping through proper maintenance.

    Sorry to have to say that but I hate to see someone misled with outdated information.

    Have a nice day.
  • George_10
    George_10 Member Posts: 580

    There are products that are available that use natural organic materials to help control the sludge that sinks to the bottom of your tank. Anything that contains a harsh chemical has the ability to kill the good "bacteria" that produces the "clean" water. This will end up filling your system with sludge.

    I have a septic system at a little cabin at the lake and I use an enzyme product and have never had a problem. It also controls odors.

    Organic chemistry is the way to go if you want to reduce the number of "pump outs" required. Many different "bugs" are available that eat all kinds of nasty stuff and leave a safe effluent "behind". Pun intended!!:-)

  • Joe.G
    Joe.G Member Posts: 213

    Where do you find this other stuff? rid ex is right down at the local foodstore, also what size is the average house tank and how long do they last? I somtimes use a drain open to clear a slow drain (have not had to since I replumbed the whole house) but I do use bleach in hte washer machine.
  • PJO_2
    PJO_2 Member Posts: 36
    My $0.02...

    Actually, using a garbage disposal is a bit rougher on the septic system. This is not to say it will always cause a problem, it just gives the bacteria more BOD (Biochemical Oxygen Demand) to break down.

    I personally have lived with septic systems nearly my entire life. As a person with experience in wastewater (municipal) treatment systems, it only helps a little more. IMHO, some of the "additives" will enhance the biomass in the tank (some not)...but it is much more important to avoid poisoning the bugs with chemicals.

    If you have a smaller tank and/or larger family, the flow through the tank becomes important. Make sure you conserve water with low flow toilets, washer, shower heads, etc. (you should have these anyway) and try not to "slam it" with wash, showers, baths, etc in a short time...this will result in carryover of solids to the drainage area.

    A quick way to measure the tank if you have the manhole that is described;
    Take a long metal rod and put a 90 degree bend in it about three feet from one end. Hold the short end and put the rod to one side of the tank...if you get to a right angle and don't hit anything it's too short (that sounds useful for other descriptions, too!). Try it all four ways to ensure the manhole is not offset. Be sure you are not just hitting a baffle...easier said then done sometimes.

    Measure each distance on the "wet" part of the rod and then dry it for the next one. Measure the depth also, then do the math for cubic feet and multiply by 7.48 to get gallons.

    Here's one more tip. See if you can get a Zabel filter from a local septic hauler (maybe a supply house?). It's a filter that is put on the discharge side of the tank if you can access it, and it does require some periodic maintenance or it will back things up...but it will prevent a lot of solids from getting out of the tank.

    Hope this helps, PJO
  • LongTownFellow
    LongTownFellow Member Posts: 14

    Discharging waste from a garbage disposal increases the demands that are made on the bacteria. A septic tank is a limited environment. When the loading on the system is increased, it has to work harder. Septic systems on new construction built in my state require two septic tanks in series if the house will be equiped with a garbage disposer. If garbage disposer wast was no consideration, why are septic engineers required to design two-tank systems with houses so equiped?

    There are other reasons to open up your septic tank every few years beyond pumping. Baffles fail, and can cause solids to get to the leach field, rendering it nonfunctional. Replacing a leach field is very expensive. Pumping is not.

    Whether we like it or not, solid human waste is full of bacteria, that is why we wash our hands after using the bathroom. Adding bacteria or enzymes is just not necessary.

    Rich, I am curious to know why my suggestions are incorrect.

This discussion has been closed.