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Your Septic System, Garbage Disposal, and You

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Septic system and garbage disposal

A question we are frequently asked by customers with septic systems is, “Can I have a garbage disposal?” Texas regulations do not prohibit the use of a garbage disposal with a septic system, but that does not mean caution should not be taken when using one.

A garbage disposal is not a trash can

Most people use their garbage disposal like they would a trash can, stuffing veggie peelings, leftover food, and grease down the system. But the matter going down the disposal has to go somewhere — and when your house has a septic system, it all ends up in the septic tank.

Some of the matter can be broken down by the bacteria in the septic tank, but both the broken-down matter and un-broken-down matter accumulate over time. When we pump out a tank that has heavy garbage disposal use, it is very obvious inside the tank; often there is literally a pile of food under the inlet pipe of the tank.

Along with causing extra pumpings, a septic tank full of leftovers can overthrow your system’s bacterial balance, making it less efficient in treating wastewater. Your septic system will not function at its peak.

Do not overuse your garbage disposal

If you currently have or plan to install a garbage disposal, our best advice is to pretend it is not there. Using your disposal daily can have adverse effects on your septic system, but occasional or infrequent use lessens that potential.

Little pieces of food washed off your plate are perfectly okay to go down the drain. But if you have a large amount leftover, scrape most of the food into the trash can and then rinse the smaller remains in the sink.

Do’s and don’ts for garbage disposals on septic systems

  • DO act like its not there.
  • DON’T use it like a trash can.
  • DO pump out your tank more frequently if the garbage disposal is used heavily.
  • DON’T stuff food, veggie peels, egg shells, etc. down the disposal.
  • DO consider starting a compost pile for peelings, spoiled food, etc.
  • DON’T pour grease or oils down the drain
  • DON’T use the garbage disposal to clean out your refrigerator

Understanding your septic system

Download Understanding and Maintaining Your Septic System for information on how your septic system works and how you can help keep it running efficiently.


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