Can You Use a Garbage Disposal With a Septic Tank?

Washing produce over sink.

A garbage disposal is a device fitted to the waste pipe of a kitchen sink to shred up food so it can pass through plumbing. Many homeowners find this device to be convenient for cleaning up food waste, but what if your home has a septic tank? Can you still use a garbage disposal? The short answer is yes, but it’s wiser to avoid them. Here’s why it’s best not to use a garbage disposal when you have a septic tank.

Impact on efficiency and expenses

Septic tanks separate floating matter (oils and grease) and solids from the wastewater that exists in your home. Floating particles rise to the top, while solids sink to the bottom. In healthy tanks, bacteria have enough time to break down organic matter and maintain the level of solids.

When you use a garbage disposal with a septic tank, the food particles are added to the layer of solids that is deposited on the bottom of your septic tank. These additional solids can overwhelm your tank and lead to major issues. Solid levels rise, the capacity of your tank decreases and the ability of bacteria to treat wastewater diminishes.

Regular use of a garbage disposal can also create more expenses for homeowners. When natural bacteria can’t decompose the materials quickly enough, your septic tank will need to be inspected more frequently and pumped about twice as often. The advantages of garbage disposals seem small compared to the cost of additional pump outs that could otherwise be avoided.

Still want to use your garbage disposal? Follow these tips:

We recommend you avoid using your garbage disposal as much as possible, but if you’re not ready to give up this device, here are some dos and don’ts to consider:

Do

  • Use cold water when you grind food. Cold water will cause any grease or oils to solidify so that they can be chopped.
  • Pour dish soap inside the disposal after washing dishes, run for about a minute with some cold water.
  • Run your disposal regularly to prevent rust and corrosion.

Don’t

  • Don’t put anything in the garbage disposal that is not biodegradable food. 
  • Don’t use hot water when grinding food waste. It will cause oils to liquefy and cause clogs.
  • Don’t turn off the motor or water until grinding is complete. Let the water run at least 15 seconds after the grinding is completed.
  • Don’t grind fibrous materials like corn husks, celery stalks, onion skins or artichokes. The fibers from these can get tangled and jam your disposal’s motor.
  • Don’t pour oil, fat or grease into the disposal.
  • Don’t put expandable foods like rice or pasta into your disposal. When added to the water of your drains, they will expand and can cause jams or clogs.

Contact Supeck Septic Services

In need of an inspection or pump out? Supeck Septic has been providing exceptional customer care for more than 52 years with licensed technicians to clean and service your septic tank. For assistance, give us a call at (888) 725-0209.