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Septic tank treatment Enzymes - Do they work?

 
pollinator
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Does anyone have any experience as to whether or not those enzyme/bacteria products you add to your septic system tank actually work or not?
Over many years we've added about 2 cups of fertilizer about once a month to our system but not sure even then if it really did anything.
Considering the product: Septobac that our septic guy recommended to us as he said the fertilizer was an old school way and that this stuff was better. It's certainly not expensive but still, is it worth it?
 
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Hey Gerry, I believe some of them do work. Enzymes are amazing, and what they do is rather well documented. For example, protease breaks down proteins, lipase breaks down lipids or fats, and there are many more. Healthy septic tanks are very biologically active and digest and break down poop and food stuffs very well. Septic tanks often become problematic when things that kill microbes are sent down the drain, like bleach, household cleaners, antimicrobial soaps, etc. and septic tanks stop doing what they're designed to do. So I have a septic tank, and I also had one in my last residence where I lived for ten years. I use a product called Biosafe One, and I religiously flush a little packet once a month. Ten years in the old house, never once needed to have the tank pumped. I'm not familiar with the septobac, but if it has enzymes and bacterial CFU's (colony forming units) then I think it will probably serve you well.
 
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As a short answer -yes!!!

My parents use septobac semi religiously and have maybe had their septic tank pumped once in 15 years without ever any backup or sewage gas on an ancient septic field. They used to swear by it when they had a motorhome for the sewage tank-kept smell way down and prevented "issues". My parents have been using it for close to 20 years. Possibly close to 30 years.  If my cheapskate father is willing to spend money for it on a regular basis, it's a good product :)
 
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Hmm in my experience of only ever living with septic tanks.

If it smells you have a problem if not its working fine and it's best left alone.

Too much toxic gick kills it.

You can take the cover off old concrete ones and dig out the "dirt" on top if it's full and away you go again no expensive bills and good feet for under fruit trees.
Bury it though...

Apparently to get a new tank going they used to chuck in a whole fresh dead chicken here in rural NZ.
Haven't had to do that yet but maybe one day.
 
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I do not think they do, not because they are falsely advertising, but because a normal septic system will just have bacteria by nature anyway. To that end, if the natural bacteria is being killed, then why would adding more bacteria be any different, it would just cause the system to kill more bacteria?

This never used to be an issue when septic systems had their black water system, and gray water was sent elsewhere in a home. Now that by law the grey water system has to go into the blackwater system (in Maine anyway), the bacteria is being killed by bleach, cleaners, and all that antibiotic soap that is everything now.

A person cannot really tell if anything is working or not without sending a scope down into the leach field; looking at the tank really tells you nothing. That is why those that have said, "I have never had the tank pumped", make me cringe because only sending a camera down into the leach field and seeing what the sludge looks like there would a person really be able to tell if using septic bacteria products really work or not. You are not going to tell looking at the tank. It is going to take 25 years or so for the build up to be a problem, but then...well...the homeowner is kind of screwed. Back in 1994 I put my own leach field in for $1500, but in 2008 I paid to have one put a new one in a old house we were selling, and it cost me $7,000, and I thought that was robbery. Now they are at $12,000 I see.

I have had mine pumped, and it is cheap insurance over all, a cost of $150 every 5 years probably will keep the leach field from getting plugged. I have spent about $750 in 25 years.
 
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In my experience, and from what I have read, it seems that tank treatment enzymes/bacteria do work, but not much more than the bacteria and enzymes my family sends to the septic tank on a daily basis. A better question could be: "given limited funds, should I add enzymes/bacteria or spend that money on pumping out the tank regularly?" In my opinion, pumping out the tank every few years is a better use of funds.
 
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Hi Gerry;
Have you had your tank pumped out ? If so, how often ?  Any drain field issues ?
If not... Being an old school kind of guy, I'm thinking your fertilizer additive is probably working fine...
As noted we add our own bacteria daily. Also noted are the various "bad" things going down the drain daily as well.
Do the additives do a better job than your added fertilizer ?  Without scoping your drain field yearly (yuck !)  we won't know until it quits draining...

My humble opinion, is keep doing what has worked for years.  Or as my grandpa always said   If it is not broke than leave it alone... you'll know when it needs fixing!
diy-plumbing-plumbers-plumbing_problems-plumbing_disaster-water_mains_burst-jmp101216_low.jpg
[Thumbnail for diy-plumbing-plumbers-plumbing_problems-plumbing_disaster-water_mains_burst-jmp101216_low.jpg]
Houston we have a problem
 
Travis Johnson
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Myself, I feel the plumbing laws should be changed. Just for the record I think the Willow Feeder option is best, but cannot see the government allowing for that, so at least the gray water and black water should be separated. That would keep out the nasty antibiotics and bleach and other cleaners, and at least allow the septic system to work as it should.

It just seems kind of stupid to me, to force people to join two systems together knowing one is going to eventually make the other not work.

(Now I make the point here with the idea that this applies to "normal" people who use copious amounts of cleaners and bleach. Because I am betting turds to toilets that those of us who use natural cleaners have very non-sludged leach fields.)
 
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Gerry Parent wrote:Does anyone have any experience as to whether or not those enzyme/bacteria products you add to your septic system tank actually work or not?
Over many years we've added about 2 cups of fertilizer about once a month to our system but not sure even then if it really did anything.
Considering the product: Septobac that our septic guy recommended to us as he said the fertilizer was an old school way and that this stuff was better. It's certainly not expensive but still, is it worth it?



The age old treatment in Australia was (is?) to throw a dead chicken into the tank to get it churning. Though, these days, I'd opt for the guts/head/feathers of the chicken since it seems such a waste of good food.

As others noted - if you use chemicals to clean or wash, then it's likely the tank won't reactivate. It's often the obvious things that cause systems to fail e.g. liquid hand wash with Triclosan, etc.


 
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The rules I was always given with septic tanks were just to keep any biological washing detergents out of them, I can see that antibacterial soaps are also a no-no (not allowed in this house anyway) I'm actually posting though as I thought there was one thing here that might be interesting, I remember getting the old septic at my grans pumped out every 2-3 years, but here in Denmark they HAVE to be pumped every year it's part of our house taxes, along with 6 monthly chimney sweeping. Our old house in  a bog and with a new plastic septic and drain field needed it, this house with an old brick septic on sand/chalk substrate probably doesn't.
 
Gerry Parent
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Thank you everyone for your replies. We've done many things through the years and have had mixed results but the one thing I find most important that we don't do is keep cleaners (especially bleach that I know the ladies use on a daily basis) out of the system. Doesn't make any sense to add a purchased bacteria to the system them an hour later to flush down a cleaning agent that will just kill them.
We used to wait 5 years, but when we opened the hatch, the guy had to literally chop away the crust at the top which was at least a foot thick and very hard. It ended up costing almost as much that time than if we had just done smaller cleanings every few years and risk a backed up system....almost as bad as your picture Thomas.
A few interesting points Travis that you won't know by looking just at the tank itself and separating the grey from the black water. Don't know if its not legal here in the great white north but will look into it.
 
Travis Johnson
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Wow...yeah I would be concerned too if I had to hack my way though sludge so it could be pumped out.

I thought about getting my own pump so I could do my own pumping myself, but it cost's $150 every few years for me (no chopping through sludge) so I just keep paying the septic guy to do it.
 
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