Discussion:
What does chlorine do to a septic system?
(too old to reply)
Arlen G. Holder
2019-09-04 19:20:33 UTC
Permalink
The wife loves to dump tons of chlorine in the toilet bowls (don't ask why,
she just does).

I'm curious how that can possibly be good for the septic system, given
chlorine works best in the dark and given that even a small amount goes
pretty far.

I guess the good thing is that it only goes so far, where the biomass load
may overwhelm the chlorine.

Does anyone have real world data that tells us how much effect, say, a
gallon of supermarket chlorine (12% by volume, I think, or maybe by weight,
or maybe 6%, I don't remember) does to a typical septic system?
micky
2019-09-04 20:20:18 UTC
Permalink
In alt.home.repair, on Wed, 4 Sep 2019 19:20:33 -0000 (UTC), "Arlen G.
Post by Arlen G. Holder
The wife loves to dump tons of chlorine in the toilet bowls (don't ask why,
she just does).
It's a good pasttime. Much like playing chess.
Post by Arlen G. Holder
I'm curious how that can possibly be good for the septic system, given
chlorine works best in the dark and given that even a small amount goes
pretty far.
I guess the good thing is that it only goes so far, where the biomass load
may overwhelm the chlorine.
Does anyone have real world data that tells us how much effect, say, a
gallon of supermarket chlorine (12% by volume, I think, or maybe by weight,
or maybe 6%, I don't remember) does to a typical septic system?
What does your grass look like near the finger system?

Ask the septic tank cleaner next time he comes if he saw anything, or if
he knows anything about this. Better yet, call the company now and ask
them. They won't charge extra if you make this admission, will they?
Maybe call from a pay phone so they won't know it's you.
Arlen G. Holder
2019-09-04 22:04:24 UTC
Permalink
Post by micky
What does your grass look like near the finger system?
This is California where there is no rain for 10 months of the year, and
then the monsoon season for the other two months - hence - the grass is
green in winter everywhere - and brown in summer - everywhere - septic or
no septic.

Besides, how DEEP is the septic system anyway?

They're all on hills so they flow downward but aren't they too deep to
affect the grass anyway?
Post by micky
Ask the septic tank cleaner next time he comes if he saw anything, or if
he knows anything about this. Better yet, call the company now and ask
them. They won't charge extra if you make this admission, will they?
Maybe call from a pay phone so they won't know it's you.
I've been here for over two decades and never once needed the septic system
pumped out so I don't have a 'septic cleaner' guy.

Besides, with all the septic systems on steep hills, I can't imagine them
ever "overflowing" to the point that they could possibly reach the surface.

How deep are they anyway?
Bob F
2019-09-04 23:38:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by Arlen G. Holder
Post by micky
What does your grass look like near the finger system?
This is California where there is no rain for 10 months of the year, and
then the monsoon season for the other two months - hence - the grass is
green in winter everywhere - and brown in summer - everywhere - septic or
no septic.
Besides, how DEEP is the septic system anyway?
They're all on hills so they flow downward but aren't they too deep to
affect the grass anyway?
Post by micky
Ask the septic tank cleaner next time he comes if he saw anything, or if
he knows anything about this. Better yet, call the company now and ask
them. They won't charge extra if you make this admission, will they?
Maybe call from a pay phone so they won't know it's you.
I've been here for over two decades and never once needed the septic system
pumped out so I don't have a 'septic cleaner' guy.
How do you know you never needed it? Aren't you at risk of a trashed
septic system if you don't have it checked once in a while?
Arlen G. Holder
2019-09-05 14:57:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bob F
How do you know you never needed it? Aren't you at risk of a trashed
septic system if you don't have it checked once in a while?
How am I supposed to know if there is no "problem" extant?
Frank
2019-09-05 15:14:28 UTC
Permalink
Post by Arlen G. Holder
Post by Bob F
How do you know you never needed it? Aren't you at risk of a trashed
septic system if you don't have it checked once in a while?
How am I supposed to know if there is no "problem" extant?
I'm hoping we don't have a shitty day. Our septic is being pumped this
afternoon. Been a few years and hopefully there will be no problems.

You do have to be careful who you hire around here as a couple of big
plumbing outfits are told to tell customers that they do have problems
when they don't.
Frank
2019-09-06 12:59:25 UTC
Permalink
Post by Arlen G. Holder
Post by Bob F
How do you know you never needed it? Aren't you at risk of a trashed
septic system if you don't have it checked once in a while?
How am I supposed to know if there is no "problem" extant?
I'm hoping we don't have a shitty day.  Our septic is being pumped this
afternoon.  Been a few years and hopefully there will be no problems.
You do have to be careful who you hire around here as a couple of big
plumbing outfits are told to tell customers that they do have problems
when they don't.
After clean out yesterday, my wife asked the pumper about additives and
he advised bakers yeast.

Looking this up this am I found this which makes a lot of sense and
answers your question about household cleaners:

http://www.nesc.wvu.edu/pdf/ww/septic/additives_sfqw02.pdf

Bacteria and yeast break down household waste and too much chemicals can
deactivate them. Part of my curiosity was needing a new well this year
where well is shocked with hypochlorite (bleach) to the point of not
being able to drink the water for a couple of days. Turns out my system
was fine and not overcome.

Yeast additive makes sense as it aids in breakdown of cellulose. You do
not have to add bacteria like in Rid-X as the toilet supplies plenty of
them.

Might also mention that a few years ago the pumper showed me a cake of
fatty material in the tank and advised use of liquid detergents in the
washer to help avoid this build up. We have been doing it since and
pumpers have not said anything about this since.
Bob F
2019-09-07 03:23:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by Arlen G. Holder
Post by Bob F
How do you know you never needed it? Aren't you at risk of a trashed
septic system if you don't have it checked once in a while?
How am I supposed to know if there is no "problem" extant?
You get the septic tank and system inspected once in a while. If you
just let it go forever, eventually, the tank will overflow, the drain
field will get plugged up, and big bucks will get spent. Admittedly, I
have never had a septic system myself.
Frank
2019-09-07 12:38:47 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bob F
Post by Arlen G. Holder
Post by Bob F
How do you know you never needed it? Aren't you at risk of a trashed
septic system if you don't have it checked once in a while?
How am I supposed to know if there is no "problem" extant?
You get the septic tank and system inspected once in a while. If you
just let it go forever, eventually, the tank will overflow, the drain
field will get plugged up, and big bucks will get spent. Admittedly, I
have never had a septic system myself.
There are also possible mechanical problems like concrete degrading.
Several years ago the pumper found a part that needed patching. I also
have 2 drain fields and the switch box was degrading and I needed to fix
it. People we know needed a whole new tank as old was collapsing.

I have neighbors with newer systems which need more service. Apparently
drainage rules have changed where perk is more restrictive and they had
to add chemical treatment filters for the grey water (the water from the
overflow tank). These need clean out and replacement now and then.
Another neighbor who has to pump grey water to leach field up hill and
has had electrical failure of the pump.

I have well and septic and figure over the years I have saved thousands
of dollars not paying for water and sewer. OTOH a failure in either can
cost thousands and I have had these. On balance I am far ahead but it
is tough to get a big expense when it happens unexpectedly.

micky
2019-09-05 00:43:50 UTC
Permalink
In alt.home.repair, on Wed, 4 Sep 2019 22:04:24 -0000 (UTC), "Arlen G.
Post by Arlen G. Holder
Post by micky
What does your grass look like near the finger system?
This is California where there is no rain for 10 months of the year, and
then the monsoon season for the other two months - hence - the grass is
green in winter everywhere - and brown in summer - everywhere - septic or
no septic.
Besides, how DEEP is the septic system anyway?
2 or 3 feet, I guessed.
Post by Arlen G. Holder
They're all on hills so they flow downward but aren't they too deep to
affect the grass anyway?
Not in Indiana. In the hot days of summer, the grass is light green,
except over the finger system where it's darker green and taller. Can't
miss it. I think when I first got there, age 10, I wondered what it
was, and got it explained to me. It was a first for my mother too, and
I think it took her a few years to learn it was supposed to be cleaned.

My guess on the depth is based on how far I think the water would spread
out while getting closer to the surface, and how wide the green strips
are. They were about 15=18" wide ttbomr.
Post by Arlen G. Holder
Post by micky
Ask the septic tank cleaner next time he comes if he saw anything, or if
he knows anything about this. Better yet, call the company now and ask
them. They won't charge extra if you make this admission, will they?
Maybe call from a pay phone so they won't know it's you.
I've been here for over two decades and never once needed the septic system
pumped out so I don't have a 'septic cleaner' guy.
Besides, with all the septic systems on steep hills, I can't imagine them
ever "overflowing" to the point that they could possibly reach the surface.
How deep are they anyway?
I think we only had ours cleaned once in the 8 years I lived there, or
maybe more but I was never home when he came. I guessed the top of the
tank was a foot below the surface. The previous owner violated some
rule and built the patio over it, with a 4' hole over the tank so that
when it was dug up for cleaning it didn't affect "the yard", just a
flower bed or whatever was planted there after he left.
Bob F
2019-09-04 20:50:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by Arlen G. Holder
The wife loves to dump tons of chlorine in the toilet bowls (don't ask why,
she just does).
I'm curious how that can possibly be good for the septic system, given
chlorine works best in the dark and given that even a small amount goes
pretty far.
I guess the good thing is that it only goes so far, where the biomass load
may overwhelm the chlorine.
Does anyone have real world data that tells us how much effect, say, a
gallon of supermarket chlorine (12% by volume, I think, or maybe by weight,
or maybe 6%, I don't remember) does to a typical septic system?
Ever hear of "google"?

https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=chlorine+in+septic
Arlen G. Holder
2019-09-04 22:16:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bob F
Ever hear of "google"?
Who knew they purposefully chlorinate home septic systems!
<https://inspectapedia.com/septic/Chlorine-in-Septic-Systems.php>

Who knew chlorine is fine but drain cleaner is orders of magnitude worse!
<https://www.houselogic.com/organize-maintain/home-maintenance-tips/caring-for-your-septic-system/>
"One study found that it took nearly two gallons of liquid bleach but
only about a teaspoon of chemical drain cleaner to kill the beneficial
bacteria in a septic tank."

Who knew some septic systems discharge chlorine into surface water!
<https://laundry-alternative.com/blogs/news/chlorine-tablets-for-septic>

Moderate use of chlorine is apparently no problem.
<https://advancedsepticservicesfl.com/chlorine-bleach-septic-systems/>
"Moderate use is the amount used in one normal size load of laundry (3/4
cup) or the amount used in an application of toilet bowl cleaner."

Who knew they use calcium hypochlorite for treating septic systems:
<https://www.vdwws.com/2014/01/septic-system-no-nos-using-pool-chlorine/>
"They are very reactive and will kill 99% of the bacteria present in the
effluent within 10 minutes."
<https://www.septicsolutions.com/septic-parts/septic-care-products/septic-chlorine-tablets>
dlzc
2019-09-04 20:58:43 UTC
Permalink
Dear Arlen G. Holder:

On Wednesday, September 4, 2019 at 12:20:35 PM UTC-7, Arlen G. Holder wrote:

"What does chlorine [bleach ]do to a septic system?"
... it poisons the bacteria there, then turns into chloride ion to act like salt.
Post by Arlen G. Holder
I'm curious how that can possibly be good for the
septic system, given chlorine works best in the
dark
... no it lasts longest when it is kept dark, because visible light can drive its decay process back into salt. It works with or without light.
Post by Arlen G. Holder
and given that even a small amount goes pretty far.
Agreed. It works by concentration, and time. She can use less, if she leaves it in the toilet longer.
Post by Arlen G. Holder
I guess the good thing is that it only goes so far,
where the biomass load may overwhelm the chlorine.
The biomass load is unimportant. You are expecting the bacteria to work anaerobically to turn Total Nitrogen into nitrates, and reduce the solids to water soluble components.
Post by Arlen G. Holder
Does anyone have real world data that tells us how
much effect, say, a gallon of supermarket chlorine
(12% by volume, I think, or maybe by weight, or
maybe 6%, I don't remember) does to a typical
septic system?
Do you think any such will convince your wife, one way or the other? Talk to her about concentration times time, the cost of excess bleach, and the fact that she is salting your land (at minimum) with EVERY drop.

https://www.clorox.com/how-to/laundry-basics/bleach-101/bleach-101/ ... it made from salt, and returns to salt, irrespective of anything else you do.

David A. Smith
Frank
2019-09-04 22:28:20 UTC
Permalink
Post by dlzc
"What does chlorine [bleach ]do to a septic system?"
... it poisons the bacteria there, then turns into chloride ion to act like salt.
Post by Arlen G. Holder
I'm curious how that can possibly be good for the
septic system, given chlorine works best in the
dark
... no it lasts longest when it is kept dark, because visible light can drive its decay process back into salt. It works with or without light.
Post by Arlen G. Holder
and given that even a small amount goes pretty far.
Agreed. It works by concentration, and time. She can use less, if she leaves it in the toilet longer.
Post by Arlen G. Holder
I guess the good thing is that it only goes so far,
where the biomass load may overwhelm the chlorine.
The biomass load is unimportant. You are expecting the bacteria to work anaerobically to turn Total Nitrogen into nitrates, and reduce the solids to water soluble components.
Post by Arlen G. Holder
Does anyone have real world data that tells us how
much effect, say, a gallon of supermarket chlorine
(12% by volume, I think, or maybe by weight, or
maybe 6%, I don't remember) does to a typical
septic system?
Do you think any such will convince your wife, one way or the other? Talk to her about concentration times time, the cost of excess bleach, and the fact that she is salting your land (at minimum) with EVERY drop.
https://www.clorox.com/how-to/laundry-basics/bleach-101/bleach-101/ ... it made from salt, and returns to salt, irrespective of anything else you do.
David A. Smith
Too much salt is also bad for the concrete tank. Here water softener
flushes must be routed to a separate system.
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