Does Bleach Hurt Your Septic Tank?

Household cleaners come in a variety of shapes these days; drops to eliminate odors in the garbage disposal, detergent packs for the dishwasher, liquids for laundry, and still we turn to the time-honored favorite – bleach – for some household chores. But what – if anything – does bleach do to your septic system?

Experts typically recommend avoiding putting bleach through the plumbing system since it can damage the septic tank. The septic tank relies on bacterial microorganisms to maintain balance, as it breaks down the solids in the tank. Obviously, bleach kills bacteria – which is one of the reasons we use it for household cleaning – and therefore can kill the helpful bacteria in the septic tank and upset the balance of the septic system. Without bacteria, the solids will not break down and eventually the tank will become full and can lead to a septic system backup or complete failure.

A failure in the septic system can result in more than just a smelly mess. When the septic system fails, it can cause the sewer line to back up and flow back into the house – through the drains, the toilet and even into the basement. Another potential problem associated with a septic system failure is a blockage that causes the drain field system to fail.

If using bleach in your home, consider purchasing bacterial additives for the septic tank. Typically, the product is sold in a pouch and when flushed down the toilet, the bacteria go into the septic tank and replace any bacteria killed by the bleach. In addition to killing useful bacteria, bleach also is very corrosive and can cause serious damage to the pipes, septic lines and septic tank.

For more information on proper septic tank and septic system use and maintenance, contact the experts at Soils and Environmental Services, Inc. Serving all of Northern Virginia since 1987, SES has satisfied thousands of clients just like you with soil interpretations, environmental investigations and septic-drainfield designs, decentralized wastewater systems and stormwater management services.

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