Informational Guide

Garbage Disposal & Septic Tank?

Is it possible to have a garbage disposal and a septic tank? Read more to see how you can make these two systems work for your home.

by Ian Haynes

Proper disposal of solid waste is one of the primary responsibilities of a civilized society. And one of the most widely used techniques to do this besides the sewer system is the septic tank system!

There are 27 million households in the US that operate on a septic tank; however, only a fraction of them use theirs with a garbage disposal!

That's because most homeowners mistakenly believe that a garbage disposal is bad for a septic system, and the two aren't compatible.

So, if you want to know more about improving your waste disposal system, read on!

A Garbage disposal unit is a useful addition to your kitchen. It is designed to incinerate food waste, so it seamlessly passes through the sink drain.

They typically shred to under 2mm so that every fragment can pass through plumbing without damaging the drainage system.

These units are more convenient than trash cans as they divert food scraps from landfills. They are also easy-to-maintain and operate.

However, if not cared for, garbage disposals can clog up and emit a foul odor.


What Does A Septic Tank Do?

A septic tank (underground water-tight container) is similar to the sewer system. It gets waste from the house and decomposes it through bacterial activity. Then it diverts the liquid waste into the drain field.

It can easily contain a volume of 1000 gallons (3785 liters) of water.

Septic tanks are build from safe and durable materials like concrete. They can last between 26 to 31 years with proper maintenance and offer an accessible substitute to the standard sewer system.

However, they require pumping after every few years. Otherwise, they won't function properly and eventually halt entirely because of the accumulated sludge.

Best Garbage Disposal for Septic Tanks

Can Garbage Disposals Be Used With Septic Systems?

You're here because you want to know the answer to the question: Can you install and use the garbage disposal with a septic tank?

Well, the answer is a big YES!

However, several precautionary measures need to be taken to ensure that the garbage disposal doesn't disrupt the septic tank's functionality.

A septic tank separates solids and other floating matter from wastewater. The floating particles reach the top whereas, solids sink deep.

As the floating sludge and scum increases, the septic system's capacity decreases. Meanwhile, the bacteria will help decompose parts of the solids, however not all, which is why a septic tank needs to be pumped regularly.

When you use garbage disposal along with a septic system regularly, the amount of overall waste that flows into your septic system dramatically increases.

As the natural bacteria won't decompose all of the solids quickly enough, the septic system requires more inspection and pumping.


How To Prevent Garbage Disposal With Septic Tank Problems?

Here are a few preemptive measures you can take to avoid problems when using a garbage disposal with a septic tank:

  • Please make sure that the bought garbage disposal is compatible with a septic tank system. Choose a unit that releases enzymes to break down food scraps effectively. Well-designed garbage disposals are competent at incinerating and also help optimize the connected septic tank system.
  • Be wary of the kind of foods you're disposing of; unlike the sewer system that can handle anything, the septic tank system has limits. Large or hard pieces of food scrap can rattle the disposal and may cause it to shake or come loose. Always ensure to dispose of biodegradable foods, plastic papers, ties, or wraps as they can cause irreparable damage to the disposal and the septic tank.
  • Before operating the disposal, run the cold water as this will keep leftover food in a solid-state rather than turning it into a warm, sticky substance. This process optimizes how the disposal breaks down and pushes food scraps through the disposal.
  • Conduct regular maintenance, cleaning, and flushing of the garbage disposal. Add some detergent and cold-water to wash the disposal. In addition to that, inspect every connection to ensure all possible cracks are sealed.
garbage bin

People also Ask (FAQs)

What is the difference between a septic tank system and a sewer system? Is one better than the other?

In the septic tank system, your waste flows into a tank where bacteria decomposes solids, and the liquid waste is released into a drain field. In the sewer system, the debris flows directly to a treatment facility through sewer lines, removing contaminants before discharging water back into the local water supply.    

What are the disadvantages of a septic tank garbage disposal?

Some of the most common disadvantages include a clogged tank or field pipes, costly regular pumping (every 3 to 6 years), and drainage pipe leaks that cause an unpleasant odor.  

Can You Use An Insinkerator With A Septic Tank?

Yes, you can! If you use your septic system with a clothes washer or a dishwasher, it can easily handle InSinkErator disposers as well. 

What is the best garbage disposal for septic systems?

Some of the best garbage disposal for septic tank include InSinkErator Evolution Assist, Waste King 8000, InSinkErator Excel 1.0, Moen GX50C, and InSinkErator badger 1.


Conclusion

Homeowners can seamlessly use a garbage disposal with their septic tank systems. When these tools are used together with proper precautionary measures, they clean up waste much faster and keep it away from waste dumps. Plus, they are eco-friendly!

Ian Haynes is an expert writer who has successfully deployed over 500 plumbing pages and other related content. He has an excellent understanding of home plumbing issues and translates his experiences via Plumbing Lab so readers can have a better understanding of common household problems. Outside of his work, Ian likes exploring Brooklyn with his Labrador.

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