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Thread: Bio Additives/Enzymes for Septic Tanks

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  1. #1
    DIY Senior Member Mike50's Avatar
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    Default Bio Additives/Enzymes for Septic Tanks

    I'd appreciate it if anyone can make a recommendation about additives.
    I have not emptied my septic for 6 years which I'm pretty happy about.

    Many people will swear by their favorite additive to maintain a healthy system.
    I'm skeptical and would really like to see some solid research that these products are effective enough to justify the up to 20 dollar price tag.

    It sems a lot like the cheap gas additive/cleaners-do we know they work?

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    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Don't be to happy over the fact you haven't pumped your tank.

    You think you saved $$$ but not pumping on a regulsr basis is the worst thing you can do. It will shorten the life of the leach field by letting things go to it that shouldn't. Have it pumped, then use the additives if you like.

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    DIY Senior Member Mike50's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cass
    Don't be to happy over the fact you haven't pumped your tank.

    You think you saved $$$ but not pumping on a regulsr basis is the worst thing you can do. It will shorten the life of the leach field by letting things go to it that shouldn't. Have it pumped, then use the additives if you like.

    Based on your expertise Cass..I'm going to make some calls and look into this. To be perfectly honest, I have never heard that before from anyone/neighbors who have lived here for quite a while. I only hear about it when
    their tanks are full and *must* be pumped.

    I live in a very desirable rustic community near Palm Springs, CA. However
    I know for a fact that when these homes were originally built in the 70's-they did NOT use premium materials.
    I guess what I'm saying is that my instincts tell me that when I *Need* it pumped-it will in fact need replacing.
    I'm sure you can understand wanting to delay that expense...?

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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    Cass is right.

    It's much better to pump the solids out on a regular basis, and prevent damage in the first place.

    Pumping is a few hundred dollars.

    Drainfield replacement can run thousands of dollars.

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    DIY Senior Member Mike50's Avatar
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    Got it. Makes sense...

    I am curious about one thing Terry. When I have my tank pumped-is there anything diagnostic wise to determine the condition of the system to predict
    how many more years of use I can expect?
    It's not curiosity-It's all about managing finances and ear marking cash for something like that.
    Last edited by Mike50; 05-11-2006 at 04:26 PM.

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    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    There is realy no way to dertermine the life expectancy of the leach field. It would be based on size, amount of usage, and frequency of pumping. That being said the average life is between 30-50 years.

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    DIY Member mariner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike50
    I'd appreciate it if anyone can make a recommendation about additives.
    I have not emptied my septic for 6 years which I'm pretty happy about.

    Many people will swear by their favorite additive to maintain a healthy system.
    I'm skeptical and would really like to see some solid research that these products are effective enough to justify the up to 20 dollar price tag.

    It sems a lot like the cheap gas additive/cleaners-do we know they work?

    Hi Mike,

    I am in a similar situation myself, however I know that my system has not been pumped in quite a few years (I recently purchased the property eight months ago) by the previous owner(s).

    When I first moved in last fall, after reading up on the myriad of different products, I decided to try Septic Seep. If their claims were legit., then it might help. I received the stuff and did a search on what the product was and found it to be basically a nitrogen fertilizer with a little something else added to it. I used it and have noticed a change at the start of the leechfield where there was a wet spot - it is now dry and the soil more like ordinary dirt instead of clay looking. Since then I have bought and used a nitrogen fertilizer a couple of times (46-0-0) to try and help the leechfield. I know I am going to have to spend some money on my system very soon - something I didn't know about when purchasing the property (rural). I thought a little help wouldn't do any harm at this stage. In fact I have someone coming on Monday to locate my tank and then we go from there.

    Over the years I have used different products in my septic tanks in the trailers I have owned. One in particular seems to work well and the tank actuallly smells much better for its use. The product is Septo-bac and is for septic systes as a whole. Don't know exactly what it does other than being bacteria and enzymes that are supposed to assist in the breakdown of the fecal matter.

    I have to agree with the comment about pumping out frequently for just a couple of hundred dollars at a time. Not pumping until something goes wrong is the expensive and shortsighted approach. When you "have" to pump, chances are you have left it too late and expensive work is looming on the horizon. I know I am going to have to shell out some big bucks because of the tightfisted approach of previous owners (I will be going after them for some adjustment as the system was said to be working well!!!! with no problems).

    Hope this helps Mike - I am learning a lot since buying this place and from what I have learned, there is no substitute for regular maintenance (in anything), especially septic systems.

    Mariner

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    DIY Senior Member Mike50's Avatar
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    Thanks for your post Mariner- I will make note of the additives and have now decided to do a "preemptive" pump because of the pro advice here. lol

    I will be curious to hear the pros comment on your situation.

    To date I have had no problems with my system for 6 years. It's my understanding that here in California escrow requires pumping/inspection of the tank
    prior to sale. The previous owner conveniently "forgot" to have this done
    before closing. It was discovered and she DID pay to have it pumped. (before escrow close)

    I also am in the country BTW. They call this area "Rustic" probably because it's very close to the big city.
    "Country" issues like septic tanks are a very small price to pay for the beauty and peace I enjoy. I'm sure you know what I mean. :-)

    I don't know the laws where you live in B.C.----but it's not Kosher and not legal
    to inherit a badly compromised system here.

    Mike50
    Last edited by Mike50; 05-12-2006 at 10:25 AM.

  9. #9
    DIY Senior Member Mike50's Avatar
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    Alrighty. I made some calls regarding pumping/new tank information
    which was pretty enlightening.

    Regarding additives:

    Company 1:
    sells their own brand or recommends RID-X.

    Company 2:
    says do-not-waste-your-money. They are all useless as
    food and waste contain all the needed material (Bio-matter) to break this all down.
    They also reminded me to use liquid laundry detergent.
    No Kleenex or baby wipe products in system.
    Both firms are well known and here for years.

    They were also the company that replaced the lid on my tank in 1999 as it turns out. They informed me that I have a 750 gallon metal tank.
    Last edited by Mike50; 05-28-2006 at 10:10 AM.

  10. #10
    vaplumber
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    DO NOT BE HAPPY BECAUSE YOU HAVENT PUMPED YOUR TANK!!! 80 % of the biological action happens within the tank. When the sludge builds, there is less room in the tank to retain the sewage so that it can continue to settle and digest. What happens next is if you are lucky, the sludge will clog the baffle, and the tank will back up into the house. If you are not lucky as is the case most of the time, you will be pushing sludge and raw sewage into your drainfield which will soon fail. At this point DO NOT ADD ANY ADDITIVES to the tank. If you really do find something that works, and it does begin to break down what is already in the tank, then you will have a lot of loose junk in there escaping into your drainfield. If you want to use an additive, pump out the tank first and start your additive from the begining. My experience with them is even if you do use an additive and you pump your tank regularly, I have never noticed any reduction in the sludge and scum from the pre additive period, so do they work? Question of the day. Also to get an idea of your drainfield condition, if you have bright green strips of grass over it, it is on its way out. If that part looks fine, determine where your lines are, and use a post hole digger to dig a hole about 24 inches deep about 2 or 3 feet oout from each line. If the hole fills with water shortly, your field is saturated and is on its way out. If it doesnt fill with water, put the dirt back into the hole, and be happy that your drainfield survived your six year old sludge which you are hopefully removing from your tank. Best of luck. Hope I have been of help.

  11. #11
    DIY Senior Member Mike50's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vaplumber
    DO NOT BE HAPPY BECAUSE YOU HAVENT PUMPED YOUR TANK!!! 80 % of the biological action happens within the tank. When the sludge builds, there is less room in the tank to retain the sewage so that it can continue to settle and digest. What happens next is if you are lucky, the sludge will clog the baffle, and the tank will back up into the house. If you are not lucky as is the case most of the time, you will be pushing sludge and raw sewage into your drainfield which will soon fail. At this point DO NOT ADD ANY ADDITIVES to the tank. If you really do find something that works, and it does begin to break down what is already in the tank, then you will have a lot of loose junk in there escaping into your drainfield. If you want to use an additive, pump out the tank first and start your additive from the begining. My experience with them is even if you do use an additive and you pump your tank regularly, I have never noticed any reduction in the sludge and scum from the pre additive period, so do they work? Question of the day. Also to get an idea of your drainfield condition, if you have bright green strips of grass over it, it is on its way out. If that part looks fine, determine where your lines are, and use a post hole digger to dig a hole about 24 inches deep about 2 or 3 feet oout from each line. If the hole fills with water shortly, your field is saturated and is on its way out. If it doesnt fill with water, put the dirt back into the hole, and be happy that your drainfield survived your six year old sludge which you are hopefully removing from your tank. Best of luck. Hope I have been of help.

    Thanks very much to all of you in this situation.
    I will be pumping this tank asap for sure and hopefully all is well.
    I do have plenty of green weeds in the general vicinity----whereas the other side of the property is relatively barren.

    **I live in high desert-my Lot is all sandy material and rock.**

    I also had a sink hole develop a little over a year ago (while it was raining in the winter). I don't know if there is a connection, but I think so.

    I'm also ready for the fact that my field may be on it's way o u t.

    I've asked people about septic tank issues around here....and I'm sorry to say that not one person ever mentioned maintainance pumping or I would have done this 2-3 years ago. damn.
    Nonetheless..it's my screwup and I'll deal with it.

    I'm not looking forward to the expense obviously BUT a "forever" concrete
    tank sounds pretty appealing.

    Oh BTW....even though this is desert-we are on a water table.
    I would hit water anywhere I dig.

  12. #12
    DIY Senior Member Mike50's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by abikerboy
    [...]... I did begin to use a monthly enzyme treatment, which caused expensive problems. According to four diff contractors, which I got estimates from, the treatments really do break up sludge. Problem there is that as the sludge is broken into smaller particles, it is allowed to float up into the exit baffle, and in turn is allowed into the drainfield, which cost me almost $7000 to repair.and my friends a favor![...]
    I think this is an important lesson/post that shouldn't get buried imo.
    Pros I've spoken with agree with the above.
    Maybe it will save someone some money.

  13. #13
    DIY Junior Member Steve Langler 101's Avatar
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    Hi Mike,

    Unfortunately I have alot of experience with this type of situation. In reponse to your problem I will say that pumping will not fix the problem. The field gets totally mucked up with sewage eventually and it fails which is very expensive to replace 10-30K or more depending on where you live. If you read what I wrote on another blog you can see the solution is definitely not terralifting and the problem is caused by years of sewage buildup from the lack of digestion. Read below:

    Best Septic Product to use by Far! Best tip you will get regarding this believe me.
    Read my story below that i posted on anothe blog I believe it answers your questions:
    I used to think like you that all septic tank additves were the way you described but recently I had experienced a totally different thing happened to me. I live in a house that is 43 years old in Connecticut. I have 3 kids and a wife. I had alot of friends over the years come by and visit my house. I have lived there for the past 15 years. Before me there was a family of about 5 as well. For 15 years I relied on pumpouts and used yeast or Rid x (along with other product ) which is basically the same thing except Rid x is bad because they add fillers. Anyhow, one day I noticed odors and backup inside my house so I pumped the tank like I had done for many years once every 3 years, The pumper and local officials told me never to add anything into the tank. When the pumper came this time he pumped the tank but run off came back into my tank from my field. So I ignored it even thought the pumper told me that my drainfiled was saturated, clogged and ruined. I asked him why and he didnt know. I did some research and called a co. which looked more reputable then the other co's which I saw online www.biosafeone.com a field tech there advised me that I needed to shock my system with their patented products that no other products would work. I was very skeptical and decided to wait. 2 weeks later the problems got worse there was a flood on top of my drainfield and black biomat shot up out of the ground as the biosafeone tech said would happen. I was very afraid of getting code enforced by the local health dept. which they would have mandated a new drainfield with a contractor which would have cost me $35,000, I did get three quotes from contractors they each tried to low ball me but I knew better they told me $8K for a new field but my neighbor Jim told me that was baloney that a new septic system would be about $35K. Contractors always quote low and charge high! I tried to first save some money with some cheaper septic products but nothing worked. Then I called back biosafeone is a desapate attempt to fix my septic system. Biosafeone was not cheap but turned out to be worth every penny!

    I called back BioSafeOne to order biosafeone products after all of biosafeone's references that were given to me came back very positive but I was still skeptical because nothing else had worked at this point.Yet all the references spoke highly of the biosafeone products. So I deceided to shock my system using 11 pails of their BIO-112 Heavy Sludge Digester along with their 3 Yr. BOSS product and 1 Biocube . Within 2 weeks all the flood had dried up within 3 days all backups and odors were gone. I was totally amazed in shock!! I could not believe how well the products reversed 43 years of sewage buildup! Just goes to show you the big lie is dont add anything to your septic and everything will be fine just pump it. I found out later that my pumper was directly related to the replacement guy. He was mad that I didnt hire him too. How ironic. My conclusion is that it is one VERY BIG LIE and MISCONSCEPTION TO NOT ADD ANYTHING TO YOUR SEPTIC TANK TO MAINTAIN. Another big lie iis to just rely on pumpouts nothing could be further from the truth. The local government, pumpers and replacement people all profit when the system fails so they tell you this to expect your system to fail in time. The Biosafeone tech explained to me that when their BOSS product is used from day one total and complete digestion occurs of all incoming waste therefore nothing accumulates in the tank or field or pipes so obviously there is nothing to pump out and even better no big replacement bill. I totally refute all other comments on this page if you havent tried these biosafeone.com products then you really have missed something! Thank you so much Biosafeone for saving me a fortune ! You guys are great!

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