Septic Tank Additives: Yes or No?

You asked, we answered.

Over 60 million people across the country rely on septic tanks to treat wastewater. After all, they’re a great solution for property owners in suburban and rural areas that lack access to conventional sewer systems. 

If you’re one of those homeowners, we know you’ve wondered about septic tank additives – it’s one of our most frequently asked questions! 

The short answer is this: Yes, our team recommends responsible use of approved additives, but let’s break that down a bit more.

Why use additives?

While septic tanks were designed to work without additives, the items we use every day often harm its natural processes.

Septic tanks use good, living bacteria to break down solids that have gone down your drains, but products like hand soap, laundry detergent, fabric softener, bleach, and other household cleaners with antibacterial properties kill off that bacteria, making them good for your household but bad for your septic tank. 

The BBB Solution: Just Flush. 

There are many choices when it comes to additives, but don’t feel overwhelmed. Our team has conducted extensive testing over the years and we highly recommend Just Flush, an easy-to-use, super concentrated, all natural septic sludge and odor eliminator. This no chemical, non-toxic product works best when used monthly as a sort of booster shot for your system, and is available for purchase on our website or at no cost as part of our Septic Maintenance Program. 

Remember, nothing beats a regular maintenance schedule.

Additives are a great way to support your tank, but the best way to ensure your septic system runs smoothly is proper, regularly scheduled maintenance. 

Questions? Give us a call at (479) 225-9800 or fill out our contact form

BBB Solutions: How To Avoid Costly Damages From Cleaning Wipes

Are your COVID-19 cleaning habits damaging your household?

Whether it’s in an effort to decrease possible COVID-19 exposure or a result of more Arkansans staying home, everyone has certainly been cleaning quite a bit more than usual. Disinfectants are flying off the shelves, going into homes, and then… into your septic system??

That’s right! Anything you flush or wash down the drain goes into your septic system, making proper usage and disposal of cleaning products a vital part of caring for your household. 

Consequences of improper disposal. 

According to one recent study, while 44% of Americans are using disinfectants more frequently at home due to COVID-19, only 58% are following the usage instructions on the label

via GIPHY

It’s important to read the labels on your cleaning products, because while some products are safe to go down the drain, disinfectant wipes (and even baby wipes!) are among the few that are not safe to flush – even if the label claims that they are flushable! After all, flushable doesn’t mean they are pumpable. 

Our team has seen quite an increase in septic issues as of late, with wipes being the main culprits. Check out this story from just the other day: 

“We went to pump out the septic tank at a farmhouse and couldn’t even complete the job because of all the wipes in the tank. What should have been a routine service has turned into quite an ordeal. Now we have to bring in an excavator, dig up the tank, pull off the concrete, attempt to dig out the wipes with equipment, and survey for permanent damages. I think most people don’t know wipes aren’t intended for flushing, and that fixes like this can get pretty pricey… upwards of $1,200 to start!” – Jon, BBB Septic Owner 

Here’s what to remember when it comes to cleaning wipes. 

Unfortunately for us all, “flushable” or “biodegradable” doesn’t mean cleaning wipes are septic safe, as these terms are generally not strictly regulated. Wipes are too thick to move through your septic system, and if your cleaning habits have increased they can clump together, causing clogging and other costly damages. 

All that said, the safest method of disposal? A good old reliable trash can. 

Experiencing septic issues? Give us a call at 479-225-9800 or email us at info@bbbseptic.com.

For CDC COVID-19 cleaning guidance, click here

Lou & Swirly’s Bathroom Cleaning Checklist

Did you know that the average person spends nearly thirteen hours cleaning and tidying their home each week (American Cleaning Institute, 2018)? Now, we can’t tell you if that’s too much or too little – we’ll leave that up to you to decide – but with so much cleaning to do we figured we’d make it a little easier with this Lou & Swirly checklist! 

Septic Safe Bathroom Cleaning Products  

If there’s one room where chemical cleaners are really put to work, it’s the bathroom, but beware homeowners! Overuse of harsh chemical products can be pretty rough on your septic system. In fact, just two gallons of chlorine bleach can kill off all necessary bacteria in a 1,000 gallon septic tank, so make sure you’re using your cleaning products responsibly or consider using septic safe alternatives. 

For natural, septic safe alternatives our team recommends:

  • Apple Cider Vinegar or White Vinegar – Good on hard stains and odors, this non-toxic, multipurpose product works best when you let it sit for a few hours and then scrub. 
  • Baking Soda – Effective and affordable! Let baking soda sit overnight in the toilet bowl and then in the morning, just flush and scrub. 
  • Amway L.O.C. Bathroom Cleaner – This L.O.C. or, liquid organic cleaner, is naturally derived and dissolves soap scum with ease. It’s also great for water spots, film, and more, making it a great all-purpose cleaner. 

Need help with your septic system? Give us a call at 479-225-9800 or email us at info@bbbseptic.com. 

Keeping Your Septic System From Freezing: BBB Solutions

Fall is the ideal time to start thinking about how you’ll be caring for your septic system during the colder months, especially if you live in a more rural area. As always, maintenance is key. Before winter, it’s a good idea to have your septic tank cleaned and pumped. Tanks with accumulated sludge can possibly cause problems in the winter – and fixing a failed septic system in the cold weather can prove difficult and expensive!

For your convenience, we’ve gathered a few helpful tips for keeping your septic system from freezing. Have questions or need help? Give us a call!

Tips to Keep Your Septic System From Freezing

  1. Add a layer of mulch over the pipes, tank, and soil treatment area to act as insulation. 
  1. Don’t leave your water running to prevent freezing. 
  1. If you’re a homeowner planning a holiday vacation, have someone visit and use hot water regularly.
  1. Fix any leaky plumbing. Small amounts of water going into the system can freeze as thin ice layers within pipes, and eventually close them.
  1. Keep all vehicles off the septic system.

Having issues with your septic? Give us a Call (479) 271-0058. Or chat with us live during business hours (Chat Box Bottom Right Corner)

Drainfield Red Flags

can't see drain field issues

Your septic system is rarely thought of, but it plays a vital role in your everyday life! From laundry to dishwashing, your septic system is in play.

An important part of your septic system is the drainfield. The drainfield is largely responsible for hosting and holding water from the septic tank that will eventually be absorbed into the surrounding soil. When you overload your system, or if your system isn’t working properly, the drainfield can become negatively affected. 

As a homeowner, it’s important to know and recognize the signs of drainfield problems.

Don’t Turn a Blind Eye to Drainfield Red Flags 

  1. Sewage Odors: Whether it’s indoors or outdoors, sewage odors are a big, smelly, red flag.  
  1. Standing Water or Wet Spots: Keep an eye out for anything slimy, standing water, or recurring wet spots in your yard. 
  1. Slow Flushing Toilets: Annoying AND problematic. Slow flushing toilets are definitely a sign that something isn’t working properly. 
  1. Slow Drainage In Sink or Tubs: This is another red flag that something in your septic system isn’t working properly, whether it be a drainfield issue or a clogged pipe. 

Common Causes and Culprits  

The most common cause of drainfield problems is improper maintenance, but other culprits include soil compaction from parked vehicles, tree roots damaging or breaching your drainfield, and excessive grease in your septic system. 

So, What’s The Big Deal?

Drainfield problems, if not treated in a timely manner, can result in both indoor and outdoor water damage. If any of that toxic sewage enters your home, you’ll also be dealing with potential health hazards, mold, and mildew.  

Get Ahead of Drainfield Problems 

A regularly and properly maintained septic system means you can rest easy! Not sure how to care for your home’s septic system? Contact the pro’s here at BBB!  

BBB Solutions: Water Efficiency

All of the water your household uses gets sent down its pipes and into its septic system, and so reducing your water usage, or using your water efficiently, helps avoid potential issues and damages such as septic system overloading or failure, drainfield problems, clogged pipes, and contamination of local water sources.

Continue reading

Composting: Turning Garbage Into Gold

We shared what foods to avoid putting down your garbage disposal, but don’t worry! We won’t leave you with a handful of scraps. 

Instead of throwing food waste down the drain or into the garbage, we recommend composting. 

The Long And Short Of It

Compost consists of decomposed organic materials, while composting refers to the natural process by which compost is created. Finished compost is dark in color and rich in nutrients, making it a highly valued soil additive referred to by gardeners as Black Gold. 

But Wait! There’s More! 

Composting isn’t just good for your garden, it’s good for the environment and good for your garbage disposal. 

In a 2017 study on household composting, researchers tracked household waste in a series of homes over the course of a year and discovered that, on average, composting saved 277 pounds of waste per person that otherwise would have gone to decompose in landfills. Though organic matter does naturally decompose in landfills, it does so underground and undergoes a process that produces methane – a greenhouse gas that’s bad for the environment and 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Meanwhile, composting at home occurs above ground and allows access to oxygen, meaning decomposition can occur sans methane.

(Know your meme! Come on a Neature Walk.)

Composting is also good for your garbage disposal! While your garbage disposal can handle a lot, there are various foods and food waste that require a different method of discard, lest you invite clogging, drainage issues, and unpleasant sink odor. Avoid the mess and stress by feeding your garden instead of your garbage disposal! 

Composting At Home

To start composting at home, all you need is a bin or large bucket that you’ll keep outside in a dry area. Make sure that it has a lid, or that you can easily cover the top of your compost bin – we recommend using a tarp.

And so the science of composting begins! Your ingredients should include: 

Browns – hay, straw, leaves, branches, twigs, and small paper scraps

Greens – vegetable and fruit scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds, and grass clippings

Water 

You’ll want to add your ingredients in layers, and make sure you dampen them with water when you add more to your compost pile. For best results, turn it with a gardening tool every few weeks and make sure it gets up to at least three feet tall so everything heats up nice and even. You’ll know it’s ready to add to your garden when it looks crumbled, and resembles soil rather than scraps! This process can take up to two months or longer, so be patient. 

Do you have your own compost pile? Tag us on social media and let us see your hard work! 

Finding The Source: Five Common Causes For Septic System Damage

Out of sight, out of mind – right? Not quite the case when it comes to your septic system. 

Though your pipes, drains, and tanks lay neatly tucked away, they remain vital parts of a larger system that works to ensure your household is running smoothly, and therefore requires the same care and maintenance as your other everyday appliances. 

Without proper care and maintenance, your septic system becomes increasingly susceptible to damage. Septic damage often makes itself known by way of messy leaks and unpleasant overflow, but what causes the damage in the first place? 

Here are five common causes of septic damage to be aware of: 

Improper Disposal of Non-Biodegradable Materials 

“What do non-biodegradable materials have in common with (most!) canceled public figures?

They’re problematic.” 

Non-biodegradable items such as sanitary wipes, paper towels, band-aids, cotton swabs, and kitty litter are all bad news for your septic system. These materials don’t easily break down and are likely to collect, which can cause troublesome clogs as well as messy backflow. 

If the material you’re considering flushing isn’t biodegradable, or if it falls on our list of top five things to stop putting down your garbage disposal, we urge you to consider proper or alternative methods of discard; for example, some food waste materials that are bad for your garbage disposal can be repurposed into compost! 

Exceeding Capacity 

Many a good septic system has fallen victim to overuse, be it from general water inefficiency or a sudden increase in use (more house guests = more water usage).

It’s important to remember that every septic system has a capacity limit, and when you overload your system, solids don’t adequately settle and necessary bacterial activity becomes limited. This clogs the drain field and can lead to other issues, including reduced septic tank efficiency or a complete septic system breakdown. 

For better water efficiency, try being mindful of your tank capacity, your daily water usage from laundry and dish cleaning, and go easy on those extra long showers. 

Chemical Damage 

With time, or in excess, household cleaners and other seemingly benign chemicals (ex: detergent, drain cleaners, nail polish remover, paint thinners, varnishes, etc.) can be harmful to your septic system. 

These chemicals have varying effects including corrosion of drains, clogging of pipes, killing of necessary bacteria, and potentially damaging the ecosystem or water supply. 

To avoid or stay ahead of chemical damage, dispose in minimal amounts and keep up with your recommended septic maintenance schedule. 

Accidental External Damage

Gardening and landscaping are great ways to upgrade your outdoor space, just make sure you (or your hired professionals!) have a good lay of the land. After all, it’s easy to accidentally hit a pipe or septic tank if you’re unfamiliar with where the septic system is laid, and if you need help figuring it out – give us a ring! 

Natural Causes 

Speaking of external damage, nature sure can take its toll! Common culprits include plant and tree roots, and cold weather. 

Plant and tree roots seek out water sources, and if planted too closely to your drain field they may invade your pipes or tank. We recommend not planting your flowers, shrubs, and trees too close to your drain field, or choosing plants that have shallow roots. 

Now, while cold weather is rather unavoidable, you can work proactively to get ahead of it and avoid the possibility of frozen pipes and drains altogether! Our pros are happy to give your system a good look to ensure all parts of your system are well insulated. 

Raw sewage can be extremely hazardous to your health, so if you’re experiencing leaks, overflow, or other septic issues, please don’t hesitate to contact us

Lou & Swirly Say: Follow These Septic System Do’s & Don’ts

What you do or don’t do for your septic system can make all the difference! To prolong your systems lifespan and avoid costly septic damage, review these do’s and don’ts and share them with your household. 

Septic System Do’s 

  • DO have your septic system inspected annually. 
  • DO call a professional if you have issues with your system.
  • DO keep accurate records of septic system fixes and maintenance. 
  • DO use household cleaners and chemicals in moderation. 
  • DO dispose of food waste, non-biodegradable materials, and chemicals properly.
  • DO spread laundry and dishwashing throughout the week. 

Septic System Don’ts 

  • DON’T let water run unnecessarily. 
  • DON’T expand the size of your residence without adjusting your septic system. 
  • DON’T park over your drainfield. 
  • DON’T use septic tank additives without consulting a professional. 
  • DON’T put non-biodegradable materials down the drain. 
  • DON’T wash chemicals like paint thinners, oils, weed/insect killer down the drain.
  • DON’T flush pharmaceuticals down the drain.