Do Garbage Disposals Harm Septic Systems?

Garbage disposals are known for being a rather convenient way of taking care of our leftover scraps that we don’t want to touch. But even though they can be so useful, we have to ask ourselves what happens to the scrappy liquid that flows down into the septic systems underneath. Does having a garbage disposal blending up our scraps, damage the septic system?

A septic system that is not regularly cleaned can be harmed by the blended scraps that come out of the garbage disposal. The scraps can accumulate inside the septic tank, reducing the full capacity of the septic tank, even as the scraps are being broken down.

We want a working garbage disposal system as well, to keep down the smell and rid ourselves of those nasty scraps. So what can we do to avoid the decrease in function of the septic tank system, as well as keeping our precious garbage disposals in proper function?

The breakdown of disposal sludge

When considering whether or not your garbage disposal system may cause a few problems to your septic system, it’s time to do a knowledge assessment.

‘What exactly does a garbage disposal do?’ And ‘What happens to the scraps that go through your disposal?’

When you send those old food scraps through the blades of a garbage disposal, you probably assume that those scraps are gone for good and will no longer linger on with you. However, much like a zit or uncomfortable smell would, it finds a way to return with a vengeance.

The scraps are blended into a sludge-like liquid which flows down the pipes and into the septic system where it will sit. If too many scraps are sent down through the disposal on a consistent basis, then the sludge will build up within the septic tank.

However, because of sludge’s biodegradable nature, as gross as it is, it will eventually be broken down by the septic tank’s bacteria and treatments.

(Source: Can I Use a Garbage Disposal if I Have a Septic System? | Paradise Valley Septic Services)

Septic system capacity and expectancy

Even though the unfavorable sludge will eventually break down on its own, and being careful to avoid sending too many scraps down the disposal can be helpful, you still need to watch the septic tank capacity.

Sludge can easily build up within the septic tank, decreasing the septic tank capacity. It will not be able to break down all of the sludge as quickly as you might think. And in this moment, those annoying scaps or bad smells will come back with a vengeance, maybe even breaking the septic system.

Tip: You have to care for your septic tank in order for your tank to last to its full life expectancy.

Fun Fact: The natural life expectancy of a septic tank is up to anywhere between twenty and forty years. Yes, these old machines can still function properly when given the proper care.

(Source: Can I Use a Garbage Disposal if I Have a Septic System? | Paradise Valley Septic Services)

Cleaning the septic tank

If they can live to be old and still be useful, then we want them to. So what is the proper care that should be given to your septic tank in order to keep it from getting harmed by the disposal sludge?

Your septic tank needs to be regularly cleaned so that it doesn’t get damaged or poisoned by the sludge coming out of your garbage disposal.

You can use products such as a cleaning chemical called ‘RID-X’ on a monthly basis, as well as consistent pumping, to keep your septic tank from getting too filthy to function.

Tip: As the build-up normally occurs over time, you do not need to concern yourself by constantly sending cleaners or chemicals down your disposal and into your septic tank.

(Source: Septic Solutions: Septic Tank Treatment Products | RID-X® (

How to poison your septic tank

If you wish to poison your septic tank, then feel free to use any chemicals that you want to clean at your disposal. As foods aren’t the only way to damage your septic tank, you also have to watch what chemicals are being sent down the drain.

Not all chemicals and cleaners will mix well into the tank and the bacteria or treatments that are already there. In fact, instead of helping, it may cause additional issues or damage.

Tip: Always check the products that you plan on using on your disposal or septic tank, and be certain that they won’t cause any issues or damage to your system

However, if your desire is to poison your septic tank, then be sure to use any chemical possible, as well as thick scraps and fats that are more difficult to break down.

When your septic tank and disposal go to war

If problems arise between your disposal and your septic tank, then they may be going to war again. Or perhaps even for the very first time. So what should you do about it?

Well, like two kids getting into a fight, they need parental intervention. And as any inexperienced parent would, you need a guide to get the job done.

Some of the things to consider doing include;

  • Better garbage disposal: You might just need a new favorite child. A new garbage disposal may be needed, as there are disposals that are specifically designed to get along better with your septic tank.
  • Gross foods: Check what foods you are feeding your child. Your disposal might throw a fit if it doesn’t appreciate the food that you are feeding it.
  • Run cold water: Believe it or not, cold water can calm your disposal down, as it will keep the scraps from getting warm and sticky. And as all parents know, warm and sticky is rarely a good thing.

(Source: Can I Use a Garbage Disposal if I Have a Septic System? | Paradise Valley Septic Services)

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