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Causes of Septic Problems: Additives, Biomat

There are NO additives you should put in your septic system to repair it or help it last longer. Don't be fooled by them! The additives fall into two categories:

   1. Bacteria and enzymes - you have plenty of them! - in the stuff you're flushing - for the digestion and purification process to take place in the tank and leaching area. You don't need to buy more.

   2. Chemicals can actually damage the soil structure around the leaching area, sealing the biomat (the interface between the soil and the leaching structure) with released sludge. The catch is that you will often see some temporary relief of the problem after the chemical application, so it will appear to have done the job. Don't risk ruining your system needlessly with chemicals some guy swears by. And, environmentally, remember that a properly functioning septic system is designed to ultimately return good quality water to the watershed, and that harsh, caustic chemicals are not likely removed from waste-water by the soil. So leave them out of your septic system and do yourself and the environment a favor.

   A thin biological mat builds up at the interface between the soil and the leaching structure as part of the normal function of the septic system. It slows the draining of liquid to the surrounding soils. This biomat actually accomplishes filtration and digestion of bacteria and suspended particles. However, in order to stay permeable - so  water passes through it - it must periodically "dry out", as at night, when the system is not being used. Without this rest period  the mat stays saturated and air can't get at the biomat. The air allows the bacteria that need oxygen to do their part in breaking down the biomat, keeping it permeable.

  Once a system is constantly saturated it's often just a matter of time before effluent is coming out of the ground or backing up in the house. 

   Fine particles in the effluent, called suspended solids, accelerate the growth of the biomat, and in recent years their entrance to the leaching area has been cut down by the required installation of tank outlet filters on new tanks. It has been recognized that, however natural the biomat formation may be, if its growth and thickening can be slowed the leaching area will work more effectively during rest periods, the biomat will receive more oxygenation and hence, the system will last much longer.
   As mentioned on the Septic Tank Size page, use of garbage disposals should be avoided with if you want your system to last.

Other Waste Water:
   Discharge of water softeners for wells will often ruin a septic system over time. There are new regulations by the State of Ct. about how these discharges should be handled.

11. Causes of Problems: Additives, Biomat: Quote
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