Q on septic system maintenance

Recently I was at the local hardware store buying some Rid-ex for our cabin's septic system. (It is a fairly occassional use place, and we have no laundry facitlites there, hence limited grey water outage.)
I met an aquaintance there who is mainly a septic system contractor/excavator. He noted my pending purchase, and warned me that Rid-ex and other septic system treatments were largely a waste of money, and that they in fact conflicted with the natural bugs that grow in the septic tank and break down wastes.
At the time, it sounded good and I decided not to buy the product. Now I think a second opinion would be in order. Anybody have any solid (no pun intended) info to support or refute the claim that septic system additives do not enhance the performance of the system?
Tnx
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Hi,
I have heard also that septic systems have natural bugs / bacteria that normally do the work. Flushing alot of chemicals down the toilet that kills them will sort of damage that natural effect.
My 2 cents is if your septic system is working O.K. it is safer not to mess with it. We live in a non-sewer area, and most guys just basically leave their systems alone except to have them pumped out every two to three years .....
Best, Mike.
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You'll get varied opinions on this subject, and here's mine. It all has to do with what you put into the system and how much of it. Natural body waste bacteria "can" keep a system operating properly if you are careful of what else goes into it. For example, keep chlorine based cleaners to a minimum. Don't put waste food products, especially grease, into the system. (Not having a laundry is a plus.) Keep feminine hygene products out of the system. Don't run an undue amount of waste water into the system.(dilutes/ flushes bacteria). If you haven't used the cabin in a few months, good bacteria may be reduced and a dose of Rid-X may help kickstart the action again, but other than that it probably isn't necessary. But I seriously doubt it would cause any problems if you did use it. I used my cabin, with a septic system, for 10 years and once every 3 months gave it a Rid-X treatment. Not knowing what was going on in the septic tank after all time, I requested a clean-out. They found about 2" of sludge on the bottom of the tank and nothing floating on the surface. In otherwords a perfectly normal tank. So I can't definitely say Rid-X made the difference, but I can say it did no harm.
KC
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I have heard many stories about these products. Yes, they apparently clean out your septic tank by churning all the sediment up and allow it to be dispersed into the drainage tiles also known as the leach field. That is why there is little left to pump out. However, by dumping the sediment into the leach field which is designed to only handle liquid, they can become plugged or have their ability to disperse water reduced requiring an entirely new leach field at several thousand dollars.
My parents had problems with a new septic tank, and was advised not to use such products but to buy a couple of pounds of ground pork, leave it out the fridge for several days then flush it down. I don't know if this really works, but it can do no harm other than the smell while ageing it. Their system worked perfectly after this treatment.
wrote:

You'll get varied opinions on this subject, and here's mine. It all has to do with what you put into the system and how much of it. Natural body waste bacteria "can" keep a system operating properly if you are careful of what else goes into it. For example, keep chlorine based cleaners to a minimum. Don't put waste food products, especially grease, into the system. (Not having a laundry is a plus.) Keep feminine hygene products out of the system. Don't run an undue amount of waste water into the system.(dilutes/ flushes bacteria). If you haven't used the cabin in a few months, good bacteria may be reduced and a dose of Rid-X may help kickstart the action again, but other than that it probably isn't necessary. But I seriously doubt it would cause any problems if you did use it. I used my cabin, with a septic system, for 10 years and once every 3 months gave it a Rid-X treatment. Not knowing what was going on in the septic tank after all time, I requested a clean-out. They found about 2" of sludge on the bottom of the tank and nothing floating on the surface. In otherwords a perfectly normal tank. So I can't definitely say Rid-X made the difference, but I can say it did no harm.
KC
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I have heard that just flushing a couple of yeast cakes down the toilet will help.
---MIKE---

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Additives are not needed.
your 'aquaintance' is right.
s

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There is enough naturally occuring bacteria in human waste to make any additive useless at best and potentially harmful. Google on septic additive if you want prooff. Here's just one of many examples:
http://www.inspect-ny.com/septic/septadds.htm
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Would you like to see ten more for the other side? This whole thread is so full of misinformation in both directions it's pathetic. So many wanna be gurus; so many idiots; so many half thinkers. At least you did cite something, even though it's pretty silly stuff, which no one else did. The OP wasted his time here. Not unusual on this group lately. Everyone's an expert by their own claims only.
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Don't need ten more for the wrong side. No additives are needed in a septic tank. They are a scam.
steve

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Gee, what I read in the link above was data from organizations like the ones below, not 10 silly retired plumbers or self appointed usenet experts. Having difficulty reading?
* Penn State College of Agriculture - Cooperative Extension,Agricultural Fact Sheet #SW-161 "Septic Tank Pumping," by Paul D. Robillard and Kelli S. Martin - last line of second paragraph "Biological and chemical additives are not needed to aid or accelerate decomposition."
* Agricultural Fact Sheet #SW-161 "Preventing Septic System Failures," by PaulD. Robillard and Kelli S. Martin - page 2, Maintenance Failures, paragraph two, "Chemical or biological additives are not a substitute for pumping."
* "Soil Science Facts, Septic Tank Systems," Michael T. Hoover, Dept. of Soil Science, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, SS 86-4, "Are Septic-Tank Cleaners Necessary?" "No. These products include biologically based materials (bacteria, enzymes, and yeast), inorganic chemicals (acids and bases), or organic chemicals (including solvents). They do not reduce the need for regular pumping of the septic tank. Some of these products contain organic chemicals and may even damage the drainfield or contaminate the groundwater and nearby wells."
* Florida ASHI Seminar, Kissimmee FL, 10/10/93, "Septic Tank News & Views," cites Florida building code 10D-6.050 Maintenance, paragraph (4) "Organic chemical solvents shall not be advertised, sold, or used in the state for the purpose of degreasing or de clogging onsite sewage disposal systems. (4)(a) All organic chemical solvents known to have been used as decloggers or degreasers of onsite sewage disposal systems or those which have a likelihood of being used in such a manner shall be labeled on the front of each product container with the following language: 'Florida Statute 381.0065 (13) prohibits the advertisement, sale or use of organic chemical solvents for the purpose of degreasing or de clogging onsite sewage systems in the state.' ... " and (4)(b) continues, "Persons who use organic chemical solvents for degreasing or declogging onsite sewage disposal systems shall be subject to revocation of their septage disposal service permits and shall be subject to other applicable penalties as described in Chapter 381, or 489 Part III,F.S." These law changes were effective in Florida march 17, 1992.
* "Septic Tank Maintenance," K. Mancl and J.A. Moore, Oregon State University Extension Service, Extension Circular 1343/January 1990. "Biological and chemical additives are not needed to aid or accelerate settling ordecomposition."
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I'm sorry that you buy into scams.
Harry K
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wrote:

I'm sorry that you buy into scams.
Harry K
I'm certainly no expert but our place has been served by a septic tank for over 60 years and the only thing that we ever do is pour a cup of yeast in the toilet about 3 times a year. Other than that, we have never even had to have it pumped out. I think that the older they are, the better they get due to the bacteria that are resident there.
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Ridex is one of the longest running scams in the business. What it boils down to is:
If your system needs something to make it work, it has already failed. Human waste itself contains all that is needed in the way of bacteria to keep the system going.
If you somehow managed to kill all the bacteria in the tank, one good dump would put back what is needed just as well as a batch of Ridex.
I have been on a tank for 30 years. Folks on one for longer than that before they passed on. No Ridex or other additeives ever used.
Save your money and put it into getting the tank pumped occasionally will do better than pouring junk down the drain.
Harry K
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