Septic Starters, Feeders, Cleaners and Other Additives
There is no substitute for proper operation and regular maintenance. Do NOT use starters,
feeders, cleaners and other additives. Many of these additives suggest they work via "enzyme" or "bacterial"
"There's no such thing as a
septic system additive."
Feeders: It is not necessary to “feed” the system additional bacteria, yeast
preparations, or other home remedies. There are millions of bacteria and plenty of food for them entering the
system in normal sewage. If the bacterial activity level is low, figure out what is killing them (for example,
household cleaners) and correct it. High levels of activity will return after the correction.
Cleaners: Additives effective in removing solids from the septic tank will
probably damage the soil treatment system. Some additives may suspend the solids that would normally float to the
top or settle to the bottom of the tank in the liquid. This allows them to be carried into the soil treatment
system, where they clog pipes and soil pores leading to partial or complete failure of the system.
Other Additives: Additives, particularly degreasers, may contain carcinogens
(cancer-causing agents) that flow directly into the groundwater along with the treated sewage.
Many state regulations ban the use of septic system additives that contain hazardous
materials. In addition, they specify that additives must not be used as a means of replacing or reducing the
frequency of proper maintenance and removal of scum and sludge from the septic tank. EPA or USDA approval
statements on labels only mean that the product contains no hazardous material. It does not mean the product is
effective at what it claims to do.
Additives and cleaners are heavily promoted to homeowners through direct mail and telephone. Don't be misled! The "quick fix" in a bottle just doesn't exist similar to the "Snakebite Oil" of years past.
Septic System Owners Guide
University of Minnesota Extension.
(used with permission)