As a homeowner with a septic system, you are probably already careful with what you flush down the toilet. This is very important for the health of the septic tank and preventing blockages that could be extremely messy and costly.
One question that we receive often is, “Can I use a garbage disposal in my kitchen if I have a septic tank?” We have good news for you – yes, you can enjoy the convenience of a garbage disposal. But it’s also important that you use it in a responsible way to make it easier on your septic system.
Food waste in a septic tank
When using your garbage disposal, keep in mind that food waste will break down slower than the toilet paper you flush down the toilet. So the more food you put down the kitchen sink, the quicker your septic tank will fill up – possibly requiring you to have it pumped sooner.
Organic materials like fruits and vegetables are safe for the septic system but you may also want to consider starting a composting bin. This is a good option that allows food to decompose slowly while providing you with excellent fertilizer for your garden, plants, or trees.
How to use a garbage disposal properly when you have a septic tank
If you do want to go ahead and install a garbage disposal, just make sure you follow these guidelines:
- Do not put any materials down that drain that don’t decompose, including paper, plastic, glass, metal, coffee grounds, large seeds and nuts, shells, medications, etc.
- Also avoid putting fibrous produce (celery, onions, corn husks) or foods that expand when soaked in water (pasta and rice)
- When running the blades, run cold water to solidify any grease, fats, or oils that went down the drain
- Use dish soap and cold water to wash the blades after use
Advantages of a septic-assist garbage disposal
Another option is purchasing a garbage disposal unit that’s made specifically for septic systems. Called a septic-assist garbage disposal, the appliance has a slightly different design and a cartridge that releases a liquid that helps break down food and solid waste, which lessens the stress on the pipes and septic tank.
Garbage disposal installation
As long as you are careful, a garbage disposal and septic tank can work together just fine. Before you go ahead and install one in your kitchen, it doesn’t hurt to talk with a professional plumber.