Fats, Oils, and Greases OH MY! Don’t Flush Them Into The Septic System!

Fats, Oils, and Greases OH MY! Don’t Flush Them Into The Septic System!

By: Melissa Desmond

What are the worst things that you can put down the drain or flush? There is little room for debate that the worst two things for a septic system are fat and grease. These two common by products, not only clog your septic system, they will cost you tons of money. Septic systems are designed to handle waste, organic material or toilet paper. They are not designed to handle grease and fat.

Clogged Effluent Filter
Fats, Oils, and Grease on Effluent Filter

In order to understand why grease and fat is a septic tanks worst enemy, you must first understand the components of a septic system. The septic system consist of two parts- the tank and the drain field. The tank is a water tight box, made of fiberglass or concrete with an inlet and outlet pipe. Each time a toilet is flushed, laundry is done, or sink is turned on, it flows from the home into the tank. You can think of the tank as a big water tight storage container. The waste stays in the storage container long enough for it to separate naturally. Once the solids and liquids separate, they form 3 layers.

Septic Tank and Drainfield
Septic Tank and Drainfield

The bottom layer is referred to as sludge. The middle layer is liquids that have yet to be broken down. And the top layer is scum. Fat and grease are denser than water. Hence, the reason they float on top of water. When oil is poured down the drain it sits on top of the scum layer. Over time, as more fat/grease builds up, it becomes very thick. This causes the scum layer to encroach on the liquid layer and eventually block the pipes. Once the pipes are blocked with this thick layer of fat, the septic system becomes clogged. The sewage cannot be passed onto the drain field. The fat acts as a solid and seals off the pipes and causes the sewage to backup.

Once this happens the only way to remedy the situation is to hire a licensed professional like Southern Water to alleviate the problem. There are many “miracle “additives on the market. Some make claims to eliminate or “eat” the fat away. The problems with these products are that the solids exit the tank and end up in the disposal field. Once there, solids seal off the drain field, and cause complete system failure. By adding products to your septic system you might be doing more harm than good.

Preventative maintenance is the key to a healthy septic system. Consider installing a septic tank outlet filter in your tank. These filters can catch tiny particles and light weight solids. Some are even designed to capture suspended grease. Only a professional licensed expert, like Southern Water, should install these filters. Also talk to one of their representatives about preventative septic maintenance.

For more information about preventative septic maintenance or to sign up for annual septic system maintenance in the Tampa Bay area, call Southern Water and Soil, Inc., the septic system experts.

 

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