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If you’re wondering how to increase bacteria in a septic tank, the answer is routine inspections, timely maintenance, and avoiding actions that offset the bacteria in the first place.

Using an additive to increase the bacteria in your septic tank is the last resort and should only be done if recommended by a septic professional. Additives may seem like bargain solutions, but they can cause problems, especially if you’re not having annual inspections and routine septic tank pumping. Here’s why.

Septic Tank Additives Cannot Replace Routine Maintenance

Your septic tank separates solids, grease, and oil from wastewater going into the drain field. The bacteria in the tank, both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, clean the water and break down organic solids. Oils and grease rise form “scum” and rise to the top of the tank. Solids that cannot be broken down settle and accumulate in the tank as what’s referred to as sludge. The liquid between these two layers flows into the drain field.

So, even a perfectly-working septic system will require septic tank pumping, usually every three to five years. Signs that the bacteria in your tank is off balance may really be indicators that the tank needs to be pumped. An older septic system – even 10 years old – may need to be upgraded or replaced.

When are Additives Safe for Your Septic Tank?

Septic tank additives can be inorganic compounds, organic solvents or biological additives. Many of these are approved for septic systems, but please consult a professional before using one. (You can call us at 503-630-7802). Inorganic additives typically have strong acids or alkalis and can ruin the function of your septic tank, causing raw sewage to flow into your drain field and clog pipes and the soil. These additives can also corrode tanks and distribution boxes!

While safe additives exist, it’s better to not need to increase bacteria in your septic tank. Some ways to do this include:

  • Reduce the amount of water you use – Fix leaky faucets, do laundry sporadically rather than all on one day, and use water efficient appliances. Never drain a hot tub or pool into your septic system or drain field.
  • Limit what you put into the system – Don’t put fats, grease, oils, fuel, coffee grounds, eggshells or nut shells in your septic system. Limit the use of your garbage disposal.
  • Don’t run chemicals down the drain – Chemicals, even those in household cleaning products, kill healthy bacteria.
  • Contact a professional – If you think you need to increase bacteria in your septic tank, contact a professional like the Drain Doctor. A fast, inexpensive fix like an additive can lead to thousands in damages if what you really need is regular maintenance.