A common debate when it comes to septic systems is whether or not you should install or utilize a garbage disposal system. Anything you put into the garbage disposal goes right into your septic system and many times, people aren’t mindful of what they dispose of. A garbage disposal system should not be treated as a regular garbage can, as the items you dispose of can be detrimental to the functionality of your septic system.

Some folks think that a garbage disposal can work with a septic system if you limit what you throw away. Some say not to utilize a garbage disposal at all if you already have a septic system. If you find that you simply can’t refrain from using a garbage disposal, here are some tips to guide you on proper use to limit potential damage to your septic system and plumbing:

  • Avoid pouring grease, oils and fats into the garbage dispenser.
  • If you can’t avoid pouring oil and fats in the dispenser, try not to use hot water when utilizing the garbage disposal as it can cause oils and fats to liquify then harden, potentially causing build-up or accumulation in the drain lines.
  • When doing dishing, put a little dish soap into the garbage disposal and run it for a minute or two with some cold water to clear out the lines.
  • Try to avoid grinding any fibrous (stringy) foods such as celery and artichokes as they can become entangled in the disposal components, potentially jamming the motor.
  • Avoid putting foods such as pasta or rice into the garbage disposal, as they expand and cause jams or clogs.
  • Try to grind harder foods such as small fish or  poultry bones, pits from fruit and eggshells. These food items help clean out the grinding mechanism and walls within the disposal.
  • Avoid dumping coffee grounds into the garbage disposal as they can accumulate in the lines and potentially cause clogs.
  • Don’t turn the system’s motor off until the grinding function has completely stopped. Also, it’s recommended to let cold water run through the system about 15 seconds after the grinding process has completed.
  • Try to use your garbage disposal on a regular basis to prevent rust.
  • Most importantly, DO NOT put non-food items into the garbage disposal. Putting any plastic, glass, paper or anything considered combustible into the disposal. This can not only damage the disposal system but could end in a larger tragedy.

Also, keep in mind, the more items you put into your disposal, the more your septic tank has to store. This could result in more frequent required septic tank cleanings due to build-up.