Learning to use a septic system instead of the city sewer system you used for years can involve a steep learning curve. Many people still use septic tanks, and with care, the tank continues to function well and doesn't cause problems for the residents of the house. However, for those new to septic tanks, the information they can access can sometimes be contradictory, especially regarding toilet paper. Everyone seems to have a different opinion and have different experiences, and the fact that toilet paper brands have to mark the packages as "septic safe" only adds to the confusion; why do you need special toilet paper? That makes it seem like the septic tank is very fragile. If you're now learning how to care for a residential septic system, here are a few things you need to know.
That Paper Goes Only So Far, and Bulk Takes up Space
In a city sewer system, whatever you flush (assuming you flush only waste and toilet paper) travels into the sewer main and then into the city sewer system. If you have a septic tank, it flushes into the tank, and then stays there. If you use a toilet paper brand that doesn't dissolve that well, you can end up with gobs of bulky paper taking up space inside the tank. And while the paper might eventually dissolve, it's not going to be as space-friendly in the meantime. Because the tank doesn't empty on its own, you want to conserve space inside. Using a septic-safe paper is critical to this, and using a fast-dissolving brand is going to be a lot more helpful.
Why Have People Told You Not to Flush Toilet Paper?
You may hear about people who say to limit how much you flush the toilet or to even throw toilet paper in the trash can instead of flushing it down. These are people who either have very old septic systems, who have systems that don't get cleaned out often, who used to live in other countries where that was necessary, or who were themselves told not to flush toilet paper, and since the tank seemed to do well, they decided that advice was correct. If your tank was installed in the past few years, you can flush items like toilet paper down the toilet. You don't have to toss it in the trash can. If you have a much older septic system, have a septic company inspect the system and replace the pipes if necessary.
Ensure You Have the Tank Cleaned out Frequently
One of the best ways to ensure the tank keeps working well and your plumbing doesn't suffer is to have the tank pumped out regularly, at least once a year. You really don't want to play guessing games regarding how fast the tank is filling up, and cleaning out the tank is the easiest way to avoid problems. Call a septic company—such as A -1 Complete Septic Tank Service—about service contracts and prices for individual cleanouts.