Finish disposal and septic systems - problems?

In looking over the many choices we have as builders of furniture and what not, for finishes, I was curious what do many of you do to dispose of finishes that are unusable or needs to be discarded? Particularly, oil-based finishes.
I live in the country and we have a septic system. When I lived in the "city" I would NOT put any oil-based finish down the drain, but had no problem with water-based paint going down it. I would save the petroleum products for the annual chemical hazard pickups the county had. I didn't think the water based paint was a problem.
I am interested to know what those who are on a septic system, do for correctly disposing their finishes. Save them for the chemical hazard cleanup days that some municipalities run (ours does) or down the drain? or dump into a drum and then periodically have it hauled off?
Suggestions?
MJ Wallace
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Put the containers up and out of the weather with the covers off. Leave them until it hardens, then throw out with your regular trash.
Don't pour them down the septic system, including the water based stuff.
Bowhunter
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>Bowhunter wrote:Put the containers up and out of the weather with the covers off. Leave them

What he said. Tom Someday, it'll all be over....
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The jerks at our local HAZMAT facility won't take anything but water based paints. He told me to mix in some cat litter or sawdust or even dirt to the consistency of bad oatmeal and put it in the regular garbage. By adding that stuff, it becomes a solid form, so he says. I wouldn't dump it anywhere for fear of runoff water contamination.
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Jerry Gilreath wrote:

Are you sure that they will only take water based paints? Ours won't take water based paints. For water based products they recommend popping the tops, allow it to dry out and then disposing in the regular trash.
-- Jack Novak Buffalo, NY - USA (Remove "SPAM" from email address to reply)
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I am troubled by the title of this thread. DON'T put any of this stuff in your septic tank. It will kill it. I like the kitty litter/trash idea but be sure to store this outside. It is a fire hazard.
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Yep, your right. My fault indeed. I got it bass akwards. They take the oil base, not the water base. Still don't make any sense to me. Looks like if they take one, they'd take the other? I must be missing something.
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Jerry Gilreath wrote:

I questioned it as well. I was told the water based finishes do not pose a hazard to the environment. They only handle the nasty stuff.
-- Jack Novak Buffalo, NY - USA (Remove "SPAM" from email address to reply)
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On Tue, 17 Feb 2004 01:04:18 GMT, "Jerry Gilreath"

Latex paint is gathered by most cities for painting over graffiti or repainting low-income properties. If your city doesn't collect it, you could also spread it out on papers (to dry it) and send the hardened layers/chunks to the dump safely. Or just leave the can open in a dry outside area and it'll harden on its own in a week or less. Then dump it.
- Inside every older person is a younger person wondering WTF happened. --- http://diversify.com Website Application Programming
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.

I just take the top off and let it dry out. Then ig goes in the regular trash.
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Ed
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snipped-for-privacy@onebox.com says...

Our hazardous waste site takes both oil and water-based paints, so that's where mine go. I do wash the brushes with water-based finishes under a faucet and that does go into a septic tank.
It must not be enough to be a problem, we've been here 16 years and the tank's been pumped only once or twice. And that's a tank shared with two other retired couples in a seniors mobile home park.
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I am and have been on a septic system my entire life, and as a person who designs them for a living, I'll tell you that the best thing you can do is save them for the county hazmat cleanup day. It's worth it to find a small crate or box and store the stuff until the day arrives. Around here it's usually the first week of May, and then again in October.
The oil-based finishes, especially ones that harden, like polyurethanes and varnishes, tend to clog, gum up and generally cause systems to fail. The only saving grace is that they tend to float, and thus would tend to be sucked out by the pump truck that cleans out your septic tank. You do have the septic tank cleaned out every two to three years, right? If you don't, the scum layer, with all the grease, oils, and non-volatile components of the finishes, will eventually find their way out of the tank and into your leach field, where things will clog up but good.
If I were you, I'd even save the water-based stuff. Thin it really well so that it's almost milk consistency, and then paint something with it - I have a recycling shed that gets "painted" once a year with a random color of old latex paint. This works for oil paints too. Just make sure it's not something that you or the neighbors want to look at every day - maybe the back side of a garage, or the dog's house, or a tree house. Latex paints generally won't hurt anything if you thin them so they're watery and then pour it on the back lawn. The pigments stay on the grass, the soil filters the rest, and you have funky-colored grass until the next time you mow the lawn.
Jon E
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Jon Endres, PE wrote:

I want to give you benefit of the doubt, since you said that you design septic systems...but this statement goes against my very limited experience. Our house was built in 1978. We bought it in 1999. The previous owners, who had purchased it new, could not remember every having the tank cleaned or drained. There was a septic inspection by the county prior to sale that passed with no issues. I assume the county inspection only checked the leach field to ensure the tank was draining properly.
When the septic-cleaning company came out, we found out why the previous owners had never had a the tank cleaned or emptied. After 20 minutes of searching, he could not find the tank and left. I had three other companies out - they all gave up - one spent an hour pounding a 3ft stake into the ground looking for it. Eventually, I hired a guy with a backhoe to follow the line. We found the tank - it was nearly 5ft below the surface. I told the guy who cleaned it that it had never been cleaned in 22 years - he was suprised, he said that the tank looked fine.
The previous owners raised two children in the house - it was a 2000 gallon tank, IIRC.
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experience.
The experience of one house does not correlate to the real life happenings of tens of thousands of others. Just ask the people that recently spent thousands of dollars to have a new septic system put in because of contamination of the old one beyond safe use. MOST people are wise to have their tanks pump on a regular basis depending on their use. Ed
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don't,
of
your
experience.
OK, thanks. :)

that
That's virtually a guarantee.

companies
told
I'd be surprised as well. BTW, My own septic tank is 5 feet in the ground. I used the same method to find it.

gallon
That's a big part of the equation right there. A 2000 gallon tank for four people is oversized to be sure. Standard for a single family, three bedroom home is 1000 gallons. With a 2000 gallon tank, you have quite a bit more surface area for bacteria to work and for solids & chemicals to break down. Two kids and two adults is not a really big load on a septic system, either; especially if the soils are good.
If you don't abuse your system, keep as much non-natural solids (read: anything but human waste and t.p.) out of the system, go easy on chemicals such as chemical soaps and bleach, and keep flows down either through conservation or low-flow fixtures, then you may never need to pump your tank. Notice I said "need". It's still a good idea every two or three years. To keep things in perspective, it's now a State requirement where I live to provide an outlet filter and access to grade for all new septic tank installations, to prevent exactly the problems associated with failure to pump the tank.
OBWW: It's a bad idea to flush excessive quantities of sawdust.
--
Jon Endres, PE
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Jon Endres, PE wrote:

Does that exclude Hotwheels cars and cigarette butts then? :)

On this subject, my parents are the original owners of their house, and the tank has never been pumped since 1983ish. They passed a law in 1990ish, when we got annexed out here, making it illegal to have septic tanks pumped now that there's a sewer to connect to. When the crapper's full, you have to shell out $5,000 to hook to the sewer.
Good motivation to take care of the septic system. They came out a few years ago and cut in a sewer stub going right up to the edge of my parents' property, hint hint hint, but their crapper is still working just fine, and they plan to tell the town to piss off indefinitely.

OBWW: They marked the location of the sewer stub with a wooden stake.
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