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Old 01-12-2013, 07:33 PM   #1
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Chemicals for Septic Tanks

OK guys. Right now I have a sweet setup for dumping my rv. Nice easy accessible sewer cleanout. I'm on city sewer so I don't need to worry about what chemicals I use in the holding tank. We are moving to a new house and I want to set up a similiar cleanout. At this house we have a septic tank. I have been told I have to use certain chemicals, I believe because of the enzymes. Which chemicals are ok for septic tanks and won't mess them up? Do I just need to change chemical or do I need to add a treatment to the septic tank also? Which ones are good? I've been checking out BioActive, Eco something, and TravelJohnny. Thanks in advance
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Old 01-12-2013, 07:49 PM   #2
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I think you will find that many (most) of us who spend significant time in our rvs do not use any chemicals in our holding tanks. A lot of rvers use soap and Calgon wetter (google GEO method). Most of the commercially available holding tank treatments are basically wetters and perfuming agents. Enzymes would normally not have enough time to work in a holding tank.

It is still possible in some places to buy holding tank chemicals which contain formaldehyde. Those should not, IMO, be used in septic systems and, many campgrounds ban their use, even in areas where they can be bought. Household septic systems are pretty robust. They handle household chemicals like bleach without any issues. I suspect there is very little you could do to hurt a 1000 gallon or larger septic with an occasional holding tank dump. If it makes you feel better use Rid-X. It is harmless and may even do a little good.
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Old 01-12-2013, 08:02 PM   #3
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OK guys. Right now I have a sweet setup for dumping my rv. Nice easy accessible sewer cleanout. I'm on city sewer so I don't need to worry about what chemicals I use in the holding tank. We are moving to a new house and I want to set up a similiar cleanout. At this house we have a septic tank. I have been told I have to use certain chemicals, I believe because of the enzymes. Which chemicals are ok for septic tanks and won't mess them up? Do I just need to change chemical or do I need to add a treatment to the septic tank also? Which ones are good? I've been checking out BioActive, Eco something, and TravelJohnny. Thanks in advance
Even though we don't dump in any septic tanks, we routinely use liquid Rid-X in our black & grey holding tanks. It should be OK for when you dump in the cleanout to your septic tank. We also use septic tank safe toilet tissue.

Here's a link to the Rid-X liquid---RID-X - Septic System Treatment 3-Dose Liquid 24 Ounce

Good luck and safe travels..
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Old 01-12-2013, 08:21 PM   #4
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I use whatever is cheap and does not have formaldehyde. That way I dont gag when I dump. About 40 cents per dump.
Boom!
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Old 01-12-2013, 08:43 PM   #5
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So if it doesn't have formaldehyde it is safe for septic tanks? Is the formaldehyde what kills the enzymes in the septic tank? We do alot of dry camping so I think I need something for odor even though when I dump I thoroughly rinse the tank and add water before use.
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Old 01-12-2013, 08:45 PM   #6
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I was in the Septic business for 20 years. If you maintain your system in a responsible way and only dump your Rv occasionally you will not hurt the system. On your way home from the trip do not use any chemicals on the last leg before you dump in the septic system and you will be OK. If however, you let all your friends and neighbors dump there, oh well, lots of luck. Powder laundry detergent is the worst thing you can do to a septic system.
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Old 01-12-2013, 09:14 PM   #7
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I was in the Septic business for 20 years. If you maintain your system in a responsible way and only dump your Rv occasionally you will not hurt the system. On your way home from the trip do not use any chemicals on the last leg before you dump in the septic system and you will be OK. If however, you let all your friends and neighbors dump there, oh well, lots of luck. Powder laundry detergent is the worst thing you can do to a septic system.
LOL No I won't be running a dumping service, it will just be me dumping in it. Just checked with the wife and she uses liquid not powder. I just don't want to screw up my septic tank
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Old 01-12-2013, 09:59 PM   #8
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I've had my own 'RV Dump' where I park since 1985 and I'm on Septic. Also we have used powder laundry soap since 1985 too .. I even lived inside my coach for 18 months about 5 years ago using the dump the whole time. I've used all kinds of RV chemicals over the years except any containing formaldehyde with no problems. I use Septic Tank Treatment once a year that adds enzymes/bacteria to the system that keeps it 'working' correctly. I haven't had to have the Septic tank pumped since it was put in new in 1985. There is no reason not to use a RV dump on Septic system.
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Old 01-12-2013, 10:24 PM   #9
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I've had my own 'RV Dump' where I park since 1985 and I'm on Septic. Also we have used powder laundry soap since 1985 too .. I even lived inside my coach for 18 months about 5 years ago using the dump the whole time. I've used all kinds of RV chemicals over the years except any containing formaldehyde with no problems. I use Septic Tank Treatment once a year that adds enzymes/bacteria to the system that keeps it 'working' correctly. I haven't had to have the Septic tank pumped since it was put in new in 1985. There is no reason not to use a RV dump on Septic system.
Wow, thanks, This is the kind of info I was looking for. Sounds like I will be alright if I do it the right way.
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Old 01-12-2013, 10:36 PM   #10
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So if it doesn't have formaldehyde it is safe for septic tanks? Is the formaldehyde what kills the enzymes in the septic tank? We do alot of dry camping so I think I need something for odor even though when I dump I thoroughly rinse the tank and add water before use.
Based on my experience if you have an odor problem it is probably due to not using enough water and/or a plugged black water tank vent. When we had an odor problem, we replaced the toilet and used chemicals to no avail. Then I found that mud dobbers had plugged the vent. When I fixed that and started using the Geo method and I add 5/7 gals water as soon as the tank is dumped.
I started this while dry camping and found that we got about 5 days more use before dumping than before. So using more water got us more time.
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Old 01-12-2013, 10:58 PM   #11
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Based on my experience if you have an odor problem it is probably due to not using enough water and/or a plugged black water tank vent. When we had an odor problem, we replaced the toilet and used chemicals to no avail. Then I found that mud dobbers had plugged the vent. When I fixed that and started using the Geo method and I add 5/7 gals water as soon as the tank is dumped.
I started this while dry camping and found that we got about 5 days more use before dumping than before. So using more water got us more time.
I'm going to check the vents tomorrow. Thanks
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Old 01-13-2013, 08:06 AM   #12
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On you home septic tank system I would be careful dumping large amounts of water at one time they are not designed for that. 10-15 gallons at a time may be ok, but if you roll in with the black and gray tanks full and dump all at one time you may be in for an unpleasent supprize .
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Old 01-13-2013, 09:43 AM   #13
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On you home septic tank system I would be careful dumping large amounts of water at one time they are not designed for that. 10-15 gallons at a time may be ok, but if you roll in with the black and gray tanks full and dump all at one time you may be in for an unpleasent supprize .

Explain the surprise part? What could happen?
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Old 01-13-2013, 10:11 AM   #14
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I believe Bruce is talking about a flood of 100 or so gallons of black/gray water into the tank causing an overflow of the tank into the distribution box going out into the field lines. normal settling and enzyme action on solids keeps soiids out of the distribution box. This 'box' acts like a manifold, allowing water to be distributed into the field for absorbtion into the ground. In newer systems, a leach field with gravel beds and a sort of tunnel for water flow is used. In either case, it basically takes water to an area where it can be absorbed into the ground through a layer of gravel.
If this large amount of water/solids/paper etc is dumped there is a chance the solids can get into the distribution and then into the field lines. This would/could clog the surface of the gravel and slow or stop absorbtion of the water into the leach field area.
Pretty 'crappy' explanation I know
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