Are Garbage Disposals OK With Septic Systems?

Running septic systems involves a finely-tuned process, and there are some things that you can do that will upset that process which will result in problems.  Often, these problems mean money will need to be paid out to get your septic system running smoothly again. One question that often comes up regards garbage disposals and whether or not it’s OK to use them with a septic system.  Most garbage disposal manufacturers are quick to tell you that yes, you can use their product with your septic system, but ignore the ugly truth that can be hiding behind that answer.  Learn more about the truth of garbage disposals and your septic system by reading on.

IS IT OK OR NOT OK TO USE A GARBAGE DISPOSAL?

It is not OK.  You really shouldn’t be using a garbage disposal with your septic system.  The way that the septic system is set up involves a large tank filled with water and the waste from your home.  The solid waste settles to the bottom where bacteria go to work breaking it down.  Then, there is the water waste layer that has the excess liquid going out to the drain field.  Finally, at the top, there is a layer of scum that has built up.

There are certain things you can to do that will help prevent your septic system from having problems – such as not flushing wipes.  The same is true with your garbage disposal in that you shouldn’t use one.  All the fats, grease, and other waste from the disposal are being added to the septic tank which can cause it to have problems.

WHAT HAPPENS?

When you use a garbage disposal for your septic system, you are overloading the waste that is being put into the tank.  This excess waste will never get a chance to break down in the wet environment.  The thing that garbage disposal manufacturers don’t tell you is that you have to pump your tank at least twice as often if you use their product.  Is it really worth the possibility of problems? These are problems that may lead to you having to have your septic system dug up. If we had to guess, that is probably not a chance you should take. However, the good news is that there is an alternative to using a garbage disposal for food waste.

GARBAGE DISPOSAL ALTERNATIVE

A great alternative to a garbage disposal is creating compost or vermicompost.  Composting is an easy way to turn your food waste into a productive material that will help your garden and landscape.  Many gardeners feel that their compost is the best fertilizer around. There are easy composting systems out there on the market that you can fill it up, give a few spins, and you’re good to go.  Another selling point to composting is that you can also compost paper, leaves, and grass clippings along with your food waste.

Your septic system will work effectively and efficiently as long as it is treated right.  Adding a garbage disposal to the mix makes it have to work harder. Having to pump more often can cost you extra money in the long run. You may also need to have your tank dug up for repairs.  Skip the garbage disposal option and create a compost bin that is eco-friendly.  Your septic system and wallet will thank you for your decision.

Contact us today if you have additional questions about garbage disposals and your septic system.


Comments

  • One of the best management techniques to help to ensure that bins are properly managed is that the bins should be checked regularly. Every bin should be inspected and its condition reviewed before it is placed in the storage area.
    - Rapid Bin Services
  • Wow the sounds garbage disposal not looks good but it has really specific ideas here about garbage disposals to clean and maintaining it. I would recommend to this guide to that every person who needs to buy garbage disposal but wants to know about the features of the machine.. really thanks for sharing great piece of article!
    - smart garbage disposal
  • We lived in our previous house for 10 years. Had two kitchen sinks with garbage disposers. We had the system pumped once halfway through. The man who pumped it raved about how clean it was. I have to admit I had never given much thought to my septic system but ok good. The only thing I could attribute this to is that I did a lot of vegetable fermentation as well as kefir which is a dairy ferment. Maybe this added lots of good bugs to the system? Also I never really put a lot of food stuff into the disposer in any quantity. I basically just used it to flush down the fine debris that got through my strainer. We’re building again and I’m going to use the insinkerator Evolution disposers that we had in our last home. They were very powerful and seemed to do a great job.
    - Peggy
  • There’s no science behind this post. Your septic tank doesn’t care if it gets ground up food before it’s eaten, or after you’ve excreted it. Think about it.
    - Tracey H
  • Good to know. Thank you for a useful blog post!
    - Tate Coulter
  • We just bought a house that’s been sitting for over 1.5years and we’re putting a kitchen in and I want a disposal. Several people have told me no disposal. So I decided to research this just to see what it’s all about.
    Thanks for clearing this up for me. Plus! I get the composter I’ve always wanted!
    - Cathy
  • I might be mistaken but I don’t think using a disposal with a septic system is a total no-no. You just shouldn’t go too crazy with it and start putting tons of food down the drain.
    - Ryan Adler
  • I read on line that a garbage disposal called insinkErator Evolutions Assist this disposal has a 3/4 horsepower motor comes with a cartridge that releases enzymes to help break down food waste. It’s function is to prevent any buildup in your tank. I make fresh vegetables juices & before I wash the machine I always wipe it out good with paper towels . I always put the remains in compost , but there is always a little remains that needs to be rinse from the machine & that’s when I would use the garbage disposal. I never put a lot of garbage in my disposal . I always felt that was a accident waiting to happen,Clogged drains. So now we just bought a home with a septic system and I don’t want to mess that up . So what I’m saying is do you think the insinkErator garbage disposal is ok to use for ground up vegetables. It would be only the few I could not get out with a paper towel . Thank for taking the time to read this . Have a great day Karen Holloway
    - Karen Holloway
  • YMMV, but in general the article is nonsense. Yes, it’s POSSIBLE your septic will fill up faster when using a disposal, particularly if you stuff a LOT of food scraps down it. But using a disposal will not damage your septic system. Some places require you to pump out the septic at certain intervals, and some require pump out every time the home is sold. We use a disposal, our septic was pumped out when we bought 15 years ago, and I don’t expect to have to do that again in my lifetime.
    - Joe Franklin
  • We have a disposal and a septic system and never had a problem with it it gets pumped out every 7 years it’s a thousand gallon tank.. we also use rid X. But never had the problems that were described in this article..
    - Georgie Fazio
  • How do you kNow the difference in septic and garbage disposal?
    - Mary Bodmer
  • I would have to agree with you guys 100%. As a plumber in Ballston Lake New York, I install and service plenty of garbage disposals. The area we live in is surrounded by semi rural and rural properties without city sewer service. Whenever I get a call about installing a garbage disposal in these homes, I have a serious heart to heart with the homeowner. It usually does not take too much to convince them that composting is a better way to go.
    - Nate
  • Thank you for a clear explanation of the problem with using a garbage disposal with a septic system. Very helpful – and convincing!
    - Jodie
  • Valuable information, thanks! Who would have thought?
    - Pauline
  • Honestly I’ve installed them before and had to go back a few years later to fix plumbing issues. Sure it’s easy and convenient buuuut I would agree with the article and use a compost. My friend also clean septic tanks and agreed that the bacteria in the bottom doesn’t eat up food and anything else going down the drain as easy as eh hemm… other things lol.
    - Guelph Plumber
  • We were told that that a three stage disposal would be ok. We are a family of three living in a house with a septic designed for 8.
    - Lisa Positeri
  • We also have a septic system with a garbage disposal we have to get our pumped out every 7 years otherwise never had a problem
    - Georgie Fazio
  • I HAVE A SEPTIC TANK AND ALSO A DISPOSAL, WHICH WE USE CAREFULLY. WE HAVE LIVED IN OUR HOME FOR 25 YEARS, NEVER HAD SEPTIC TROUBLE, AND HAVE NEVER HAD THE SEPTIC TANK PUMPED. ARE WE JUST LUCKY, OR DOOMED TO HAVE MAJOR TROUBLE?
    - steve
  • I want to put in a septic tank at my house but want to make sure I can use it with my garbage disposal. I had no idea that a garbage disposal can overload your system and the extra waste won’t break down. I’ll have to see about getting my disposal removed around the time that I get my septic tank installed. Another thing to consider is to get your tank installed by a professional, so that you can be sure it is installed correctly and safely.
    - Sarah Smith
  • I want to make sure that I’m taking good care of my septic tank. I didn’t realize that you weren’t supposed to send certain things down the garbage disposal! I wouldn’t want to accidentally clog up the system at all.
    - Braden Bills
  • I’ve always used a garbage disposal, and I didn’t know it could be a bad thing. I’m usually pretty responsible with it, but I know my kids put things in there that they shouldn’t. I think it would be wonderful to start a compost pile that helps instead of hurts.
    - Jack Mulligan
  • Yikes.. Definitely sounds like using a garbage disposal with your septic tank is more trouble than it’s worth.
    - Ryan
  • I had no clue the food waste I sent down my drain would have no chance to break down. I use my garbage disposal a lot. I guess I will need to get it all pumped out. My wife has noticed a smell coming from the kitchen sink.
    - Kody
  • It’s interesting that you need to pump the tank about twice as often if you use a garbage disposal. I didn’t realize that using a disposal could cause there to be so much more maintenance on the plumbing system. I’ll have to look into getting a different type of tank that could handle it, or to have somebody come out and pump it more regularly. Thanks for sharing!
    - Tyler Meredith
  • It’s definitely good to know that you shouldn’t be using a garbage disposal with a septic system! My husband and I are looking for a new house, and if we get one with a septic system, we definitely want to know how to take care of it. Do you think it would be possible to use a disposal with a septic system if you cleaned the system very often?
    - Megan Earl

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