Septic Tank Enzymes
The Septic Tank Enzymes Controversy
No one will disagree with the fact that septic tank enzymes are absolutely necessary for a septic system to function properly. The work enzymes do in a septic tank is somewhat similar to the way enzymes in our body's digestive system work. In our digestive system, enzymes break down solid foods to the point where nutrients in the food can be passed into the blood stream. In a septic tank, enzymes break down solid matter to the point where most of it becomes liquefied, eventually passing out of the tank and into the septic drain field. The enzymes in the septic tank are not necessarily the same ones that are found in our digestive system, although some of them might well be. The idea however is the same.
Components Of A Septic System - Septic tank enzymes play a major role, more properly the major role in the operation of the septic system, which consists of three main parts, the tank, the drain field, and the soil beneath the drain field A standard sized septic tank, one serving a single family residence, is on the order of 1,000 gallons, and is constructed of waterproofed concrete.
The drain field leading from the tank usually consists of one or more perforated pipes, laid out in trenches, the trenches normally filled with gravel. The drain field is covered with soil, and the system is ready for use. The third part of the system, the dirt beneath the drain field, is where the liquid from the septic tank eventually ends up. Although the dirt beneath the drain field serves as a filter, the drain field must be a specified distance above the local ground water level to avoid ground water contamination. Even though the septic tank enzymes do a pretty fair job of removing harmful agents from the sewage, some bacteria as well as toxins usually remain.
Are Those Our Enzymes At Work? - It was mentioned earlier that some septic tank enzymes may be the same as those at work in our digestive tract. Most experts are in agreement that the enzymes in human waste are those primarily responsible for getting enzyme activity in a septic tank started and maintained. This is where the controversy comes in. Some insist that enzymes or other additives should be added to a septic system periodically to ensure its proper function. Others will tell you that the enzymes found in human poop are more than sufficient to do the job. It may well be that an enzyme additive may be needed in the event toxic or antibacterial agents drain or are flushed into the septic tank, killing the bacteria and enzymes already present. This may be the case, although some contend that human waste is still all that is needed, or one could flush a cake of yeast into the tank, to get things started up again.
Many Septic System Additives On The Market - Septic tank additives are a big business, and one that is not too closely regulated. The two types of additives are chemical additives and bacterial additives (enzymes). Many of the chemical additives are thought to be harmful, even if they break up scum and solids as the end result can be clogging of the drain field or breaking down the structure of the underlying soil. At least one state (Washington) bans the use of any type of additive in a septic system.
In summary, the argument is not about the value of septic tank enzymes. That's a given. The argument or controversy is how much is too much? Is adding commercial enzymes really necessary? Too many enzymes can also have a degrading effect on a septic system, though generally not are not considered as degrading as chemicals can often be.