A Plumber’s Daughter Writes About Septic Tanks and Rid-X

Yahoo (free clip art)
Yahoo (free clip art)

The following post is inspired by a question I read from a yahoo community group. The question was about whether Rid-X is a good thing to use. The person posing the question was having trouble with their toilets backing up, even though they had recently had their septic tank pumped. I decided to reply with my opinion, and then decided to share it here, thinking that maybe this will help other people with septic systems.

I am from a family of plumbers, (My step-father was a well-known local plumber, and I have a brother that is still in the business) and I have lived with septic systems since 1978. So far I have lived in three different houses with septic systems, and have had pretty good luck with them.

Setpic tank cleaning (free clip art)
Setpic tank cleaning (free clip art)

Depending on the size of your tank, and how many people you have using the bathrooms, and laundry habits, pumping a system every 2 to 5 years is a good idea.

A good septic tank cleaning service will, after pumping your tank, ask you to flush your toilets, one at a time, while they look at the tank before they close it up. They will make sure that water is flowing smoothly into the tank, at a decent rate. Sometimes things get clogged up in the pipes in a house that will prevent the flow of waste into a septic tank.

Please don't flush (free clip art)
Please don’t flush (free clip art)

Sometimes people will flush paper towels, napkins, tampons, sanitary napkins, baby wipes, even diapers and underwear down the toilet. Some people use the toilet as a way to rid themselves of spoiled food from the refrigerator that is too large to go down a kitchen drain. Some young children will flush toys, or small items such as watches, hair ornaments, ping-pong balls, etc. down the toilet. These items will often not make it all the way into the tank, will lodge inside the pipes in the house, and can be the cause of toilets backing up.

Septic killers (free clip art)
Septic killers (free clip art)

Everyone who uses the bathrooms in the house should be educated as to what should, and should not, be flushed down the toilet. A good rule of thumb should be if it is not something natural coming from a person’s body, don’t flush it! Some families don’t even flush toilet paper down the toilet, opting instead to put it in a trash can beside the toilet.

If toilet paper is to be flushed down the toilet, (and face it, most of us want to flush the toilet paper!) it should be safe for septic systems. Some brands of toilet paper are not safe for septic systems. Toilet paper that IS safe for septic systems should say, on the package “Safe for septic systems.” (To be honest, it has been years since I have looked for that notice – I use Quilted Northern and never had a problem.)

There are a lot of commercials lately advertising using moist wipes to “clean your bum” better than dry toilet paper alone. Their increased popularity has created an increase in sewage problems. Some moist wipes, like diaper cleaning wipes, clearly say they are NOT safe to flush, but people might flush them anyway. If you use a moist wipe for personal cleaning, make SURE that the package says that it is “flushable.” Consider that just because the wipe is considered “flushable” that it might not be safe for a septic system! If it is not both flushable and safe for a septic system, then play it safe and put it in the trash can instead of the toilet!

Rid-X (free clip art)
Rid-X (free clip art)

Rid-X is basically yeast, and will not hurt a septic system. A packet of bread yeast flushed down the toilet has the same effect. If you use bleach in your laundry, or if you have a garbage disposal in your kitchen and use it to grind up meat products, or scrape grease, or pour fat down your kitchen sink drain or flush it down the toilet, that kills the naturally occurring yeast in your septic system that it needs to keep running smoothly. Pipe clearing chemicals such as Drano or Liquid Plumr can also kill the yeast and bacteria you need in your septic system in order for it to function properly. The yeast in Rid-X helps to counter-act the side effects of meat, grease, fat, bleach, and pipe clearing chemicals.

Drano (free clip art)
Drano (free clip art)

I have been lucky and not had to use Drano or Liquid Plumr very often. I have used that little plumber’s snake that comes with the Liquid Plumr, though! I put hair-catching strainers in the bath-tub drains to keep them from getting clogged, and clean them after every shower. I’ll use a plumber’s snake to try to clear out the drains before using chemicals to remove clogs. I’ve lived in this house for eight years now and only had to use one of those products one time in those eight years! I’m sure that has helped to protect the health of the septic tank.

Liquid Plumr (free clip art)
Liquid Plumr (free clip art)

Personally, I have used Rid-X a few times. I think I’ve used it in this house only two or three times. If I used bleach, or pipe clearing chemicals, I would use it more frequently – probably every time I used the bleach or pipe clearing chemical! I know the box indicates that it should be used frequently – I think it says once a month. I think it is a good idea to use it, and all of the plumbers and septic tank maintenance employees I’ve spoken with endorse using it. I know it won’t hurt your system, and it might help.