A Guide To Septic System Bacteria

While there are mechanical aspects of a septic system, one of its most important features is completely natural: its bacteria. The tank is home to an entire ecosystem of thriving organisms that help process waste and keep the installation running smoothly. The following guide offers a closer look into the bacteria and why maintaining a precise balance is so important to proper function.

What Role Does Bacteria Play in a Septic System?

Bacteria and enzymes develop naturally within the waste that enters your septic tank. The enzymes target the scum—the layer of liquid that floats at the top of the container—while the bacteria process the solid waste, which is known as sludge. Together, these microorganisms convert waste into liquids or gasses, which flow out of the tank and into the drain field. This separation process prevents solids from accumulating near the exit pipes, where they could cause clogs and backup the entire system. 

How Can You Help Sustain a Proper Bacteria Balance?

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The bacteria in your septic tank thrives on its own, so you typically won’t need to put any additives down the drain to promote a healthy balance. There are also plenty of agents that shouldn’t be put into the system since they can deplete good bacteria levels. Only toilet tissue and waste should be disposed of down the toilet. Use gentle soaps and shampoos; the antibacterial agents in certain liquid products, bleaches, and antibiotics could also disrupt the necessary bacteria. 

Although your septic tank self-regulates with the help of bacteria, it’s only meant to accommodate a certain volume of waste. Keep the system healthy by scheduling pumping services every three to five years. The frequency may vary slightly depending on factors like the tank’s capacity, how many members are in the household, and how much water your home uses each day.

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