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What items and chemicals are safe and what items are not safe to flush down the toilet and into a private septic system? What may damage the septic tank or leach fields? This document explains how to extend the life of the septic system by being careful about what goes into it.
We provide a list of articles giving exact details about items that should not be flushed down building drains either because of the probability of clogging the drain waste vent system or because of the risk of chemical harm to necessary septic tank and drainfield bacteria, or finally, because of the risk of chemical contamination of groundwaters, nearby leaks, ponds, streams, and the environment in general. We also discuss & provide citations about chemical contaminants found in residential wastewater.
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What Solids, Liquids, Chemicals, Treatments & Other Stuff Should Not be Flushed Down Toilets or Other Building Drains?
What Solids, Liquids, Chemicals, Treatments & Other Stuff Should Not be Flushed Down Toilets or Other Building Drains? - Complete guide to what is OK or NOT-OK to flush down the toilet and into your septic tank. Article List for what is ok or not ok to flush down your drains. Chemical Contaminants Found in Residential Wastewater & Their Sources. "NO FLUSH SUMMARY LIST provides a free printer-friendly list of things to avoid flushing down the toilet.
This article is a section of our online book SEPTIC INSPECTION & TEST GUIDE whose chapters are shown at the left of this page.
Diapers, sanitary napkins, tampons, photo chemicals, cleaners, garbage and even toys which find their way into building toilets and drains risk clogging the drain piping, distribution piping, or the septic tank baffles. In the photo at left, the inspector pointed to the bottle of acid and wondered how much photo chemical had gone into the septic system and worried about what that might mean for the health of the leach field.
Even if the septic drainfield field appeared to be "working" it might not be properly treating the septic effluent. It's best to keep diapers, sanitary napkins, chemicals, and the like out of your building drains and toilets. Garbage disposers also increase the solid waste load on septic tanks and may require that the tank be pumped more often.
Diapers, toys, garbage which find their way into building toilets and drains clog drain piping, distribution piping, or septic tank baffles and fields. Keep diapers, tampons, sanitary napkins, household chemicals, and the like out of building drains and toilets.
Garbage disposers also increase the solid waste load on septic tanks and may require that the tank be pumped more often.
The tablet type toilet tank water deodorizer/flush-cleaner product such as the deodorizing hang-in-toilet-tank product shown in our photo above are discussed below at Are toilet tank cleaners that clean with every flush bad for the septic system?
Article List for what is ok or not ok to flush down your drains is given by the following detailed articles:
That more broad approach includes non-toxic materials such as coffee grounds and baby diapers or tampons, as our focus is on septic system maintenance and on preserving the proper functioning of the system piping as well as the health of the bacteria needed in the septic tank and in the absorption bed or soakaway bed to process various pathogens.
A very wide range of chemical contaminants can be found in residential wastewater, as a 1980 US EPA study documented in citing 129 contaminants that were targeted for survey. However the chief tables most often cited in that study don't address concentration levels nor drainfield effects, and the study pointed out the difficulties in surveying private homes and uses of products that can produce chemical contaminants in wastewater.
[Our photo (above left) illustrates a source of chemical contaminants: dumping photo-chemicals down the drain and into the septic system.]
Just below we provide some useful citations for further reading.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about things that should not be flushed down drains nor into septic systems
Question: flushing toys into drains or septic systems?
can you flush toys? - Deepesh
Reply: of course not
No deepesh, I can't imagine any toy that can safely be flushed down a toilet. For example, plastics won't biodegrade in the septic tank and any toys flushed down a drain risk clogging piping. At TOILETS, DON'T FLUSH LIST you will find a more complete list of stuff to keep out of toilets, drains, and septic tanks or sewers.
Question: how much water would be "too much" water to be flushed into a septic system
"Water in large quantities"
Reply: Water volumes that exceed the design load for septic system - x gallons/day
About a swimming pool, I'm doubtful that anyone would try emptying a swimming pool into a septic system, but indeed, I have seen failed drainfields that were saturated when a homeowner repeatedly emptied pool filter backwash waters and annual swimming pool drain-out waters directly onto the septic drainfield or soakaway bed.
Question: What's the difference between "never flush" and "better not flush" categories of building drain and septic system care warnings?
Why are some of these items "never" and others "better not". I don't understand the distinction?
Reply: Definition of "never flush" and "better not flush" drain dumping and septic system protection categories
Randy: good question. Thanks for asking for this clarification on the difference between NEVER FLUSH and BETTER NOT FLUSH things into a septic tank.