Garbage Disposals & Septic Systems

Garbage disposals are an easy and convenient way to get rid of leftover food. However, if your house is connected to a septic system, it is important to understand how a garbage disposal will impact it. With care and maintenance, it is possible to have the benefits of both a garbage disposal and a well functioning septic system.

More Frequent Pumping

A under-sink view of a garbage disposal.

The effectiveness of a septic system is the responsibility of the homeowner. This means that the homeowner must take care when adding any appliances that will increase the burden on the septic system so that the system will not be overwhelmed. Garbage disposals increase the amount of material being processed through the septic tank, which may result in the tank needing to be pumped more often. A septic tank should be pumped every three to five years, but with the addition of a garbage disposal, the frequency of pumping may need to be increased.

Larger Tank Required

Due to the added solids that a garbage disposal adds to a septic system, it is wise to have a larger than normal tank installed that can handle the extra solids. This is easiest to accomplish with new construction. If a 1,000-gallon tank would be sufficient without a garbage disposal installed, then a minimum of a 1,500 gallon tank should be used with a one.

Septic Outflow Filters

Installing an effluent filter on the septic tank prevents solids from being swept through the septic tank and into the drain field. When solids enter the drain field it stops the proper flow of the waste fluids which causes backup problems. This is a major cause of septic system failures. When you have a garbage disposal, it is doubly important to make sure your septic tank has filters, because the garbage disposal introduces small bits of food that can easily enter the drain field and clog it.

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