Are Septic Tank Additives Necessary? Here's What You Need to Know

Monday, October 2, 2023
technician opening septic lidSeptic tank systems are an integral part of many Kansas City households and are responsible for processing and filtering wastewater. While they’re often low maintenance, some homeowners may wonder if they need to add septic tank additives to improve performance.
Knowing when and why you should add an additive to your septic system can be confusing, so here’s what you need to know about septic tank additives.

What Are Septic Tank Additives?

Before we dive in, let's first define what are septic tank additives. They're chemical or biological products designed to improve the septic system's function. Additives typically come in liquid or powder form and contain a mixture of enzymes, bacteria, and other chemicals.
For example, Honey-Zyme is a granulated formula available from Honey-Wagon that helps break down paper, waste, hair, and oils. All you do is drop the dissolvable packet into the toilet and flush it.

Potential Benefits of Septic Tank Additives

Septic tank additives are marketed as a solution to many septic system issues. While there’s ongoing research on their effectiveness, they can offer some potential benefits.

Improved digestion of organic matter

Using additives can help improve the digestion of organic matter in the septic tank. Additives often contain bacteria and enzymes that break down organic matter more quickly, which can make wastewater treatment faster and more efficient.

Reduced sludge buildup in the tank

Additives can also reduce sludge buildup since the enzymes and bacteria help break down solid waste, resulting in a reduced amount of solid material settling at the bottom of the tank. This helps to keep the tank operating efficiently.

Lower risk of clogs and other blockages

Septic tank additives can reduce the risk of clogs and other blockages by aiding the breakdown of solid waste, which allows it to pass through the system more easily. When pipes and drains are kept clear, the system runs smoothly and prevents blockages or backups that can lead to expensive repairs.

Reduced odors from the septic system

Septic tank additives can also help reduce odors from your septic system. Since the bacteria and enzymes break down organic matter more quickly and efficiently, fewer solids settle at the bottom of the tank, and fewer odorous gases are produced.

The Risks of Septic Tank Additives

While septic tank additives can offer various benefits, there are some risks with using these products. It’s crucial to be aware of the potential drawbacks to prevent harm and costly repairs before introducing an additive to your system.

Can imbalance the natural bacteria

The bacteria and enzymes found in septic tank additives can disrupt the tank’s balance of natural bacteria. This can lead to various issues, such as clogs or blockages.

It may not be effective in every situation

It's important to remember that septic tank additives may not always be effective, depending on your situation or the tank’s condition. If your septic system is already functioning well and there aren’t any issues with clogs or odors, then adding these products likely won't provide any additional benefit.
Alternatively, if your septic system is malfunctioning due to an underlying problem, like a broken pipe or an improperly sized system, then septic tank additives won't fix the problem.

May introduce harmful chemicals into the environment

The chemicals and bacteria in additives can contaminate groundwater or end up in nearby bodies of water. Additionally, these products can contain toxic substances, such as chlorine, which can be harmful to both humans and the environment.

Can corrode and cause leaks

Some products contain ingredients that may corrode pipes and other parts of the septic system, leading to costly repairs or replacements. Additionally, different types of additives shouldn't be mixed together as this could potentially create a chemical reaction that causes damage to the septic system.

What Should You Do?

Before considering the use of septic tank additives, it's essential to consult with a professional septic maintenance company. They can assess the state of your system and provide guidance on whether additives are necessary or recommended. In many cases, regular maintenance and responsible water usage are sufficient to keep your septic system in good working order.
The question of whether septic tank additives are necessary remains a subject of debate in the world of septic system maintenance. While these products may offer some benefits, they're not a substitute for proper septic system care and maintenance.

Maintenance is Vital for a Healthy Septic System

The best way to ensure your septic tank functions properly is to follow best practices, such as regular tank pumping and responsible water usage, and to consult with a professional when needed. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to septic system health.
Contact us to schedule an appointment and get a septic expert’s opinion on how to improve the performance of your system.
Staff 10/2/2023