everything you need to know about your home septic system

everything you need to know about your home septic system

A Science Project Shows Your Family What Not To Flush To A Septic Tank

by Suzanne Wilson

You're about to have a house built on rural property, which means having a septic system installed as your own private sewage treatment system. If this is the first time your family will be living in the country, set up a little science project to illustrate what should and should not be flushed down the toilet. Many of these items actually shouldn't get flushed down a municipal sewer pipe either, but the septic system might need emergency pumping if people in your house don't abide by the rules. 

Gather What You'll Need

Gather several containers to fill with water, along with samples of all the items you suspect family members will flush that you don't want them to flush. 

Some possibilities include:

  • tampons
  • sanitary wipes
  • paper towels
  • facial tissue
  • dental floss

Also have samples of a few kinds of toilet paper -- some that are known to be safe for septic tanks and some that aren't such a good match. Thick, layered toilet paper can fill up a tank relatively quickly.

Explain the Situation

When you have your family members in a group for the project, explain what the purpose is. The experiment will identify which items biodegrade very well in water, which ones degrade to a certain extent, and which ones don't change much -- if at all.

The only things that should be flushed into a septic tank are those that degrade very well in water. Otherwise, they clog up the tank. 

Run the Experiment

Put all the items in containers of water and swish the water around. It should become evident fairly quickly which things dissolve to a certain extent and which don't. Leave the containers sit for several hours, and come back to look again later.

Your kids may find the results surprising. For example, although it would seem like paper towels shouldn't be a big problem, they hold up well -- especially the more expensive versions. Consider that paper towels aren't supposed to fall apart while mopping up spills. 

Although labels for tampons and sanitary wipes commonly say these products are flushable, they won't degrade in your containers -- or in the septic tank. In fact, tampons are absorbent, so they actually get bulkier and take up more space when they get wet. 

Have Some Fun

Hopefully, everyone can have some fun with this experiment. And hopefully, everyone will understand exactly why they're not supposed to flush anything besides septic-safe toilet paper and human waste after moving into the new place. 

A septic company, like Koberlein Septic Service, can do the routine pumping and inspection in the future. You might want to have the tank checked after one year to find out whether everyone is following flushing guidelines for the most part, or whether further instructions are necessary.


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everything you need to know about your home septic system

How much do you know about your septic system and how it works? Do you understand why you should flush or run things down into the septic system? Do you know what you should or shouldn't be using in your home because of how it could affect the septic system? Visit my site to learn everything from the basic maintenance of your home septic system to replacing a pump that no longer works. Hopefully, you will find everything that I have learned over the years helpful in avoiding the costly and smelly damage caused by a failed home septic system.