garbage disposal with septic

maremmaJune 29, 2012

My head is about ready to explode because of conflicting notions about having a garbage disposal with a septic system.

I'm doing a minor re-vamp of my kitchen (new cabinets, countertops, and sink) and would like to install a garbage disposal. Some folk say it's okay to use a disposal with a septic, some not.

In 20 years, I've never had a problem with this system. In fact, the last time I had the septic cleaned (about 10 years ago), the mechanic stated that the septic really didn't need a cleaning (love this guy for his honesty).

So, what are your thoughts?

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We had a disposal with septic at our old house for 17 years with no problems.

We moved to a home of similar age about four years ago, and now have a failing septic drainfield, and so I can tell you having to replace that is no fun! However, we learned the reason for the failure is that the field was covered with too much fill dirt when installed 20+ years ago, and has nothing to do with the disposal.

I think most septic experts advise against disposals, in fact, in my local area as I recall there is some specific language relative to that on real estate transaction documents--however, I think they are also overly cautious about many things relative to septic systems.

I would consider myself to be a 'light' user of the disposal--usually only put down small stuff aside from the occasional lemon peel to freshen. We did not have any trouble with this kind of use with the septic.

When we shopped for disposals I found Insinkerator makes a model just for septic systems. Here is a link:

We did not feel the specialized unit was necessary due to light use, but maybe it would address your concerns.

Good luck, and I would not worry too much about using any disposal with a septic system, especially if you have your septic filter checked every few years as recommended.

Here is a link that might be useful: disposal for septic

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 6:42PM
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We have a septic system as well. Although I have a disposal, I rarely use it. Peels and veggie matter go to the compost and I trash the rest. Getting the tank pumped is a big ordeal.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 8:00PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

It's a no no as far as I'm concerned. We are on septic and have never had a disposal. We compost instead....straight back to mother earth.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 8:28PM
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Ditto AnnieDeighnaugh. On septic in MA (title 5 is taken seriously) and haven't had a disposal in 15 years. Fine without it, actually. Do have an inset composter near my prep area (Solon is the brand) which is decent sized and which I empty 1-2 times a week.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 10:01PM
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My house has 2 septic tanks - one for the toilets and one exclusively for the kitchen sink. I have a disposal, but essentially it's only because every house I've ever lived in had a disposal and I didn't want a memory lapse resulting in a clogged sink. Essentially all my kitchen waste goes out in the pasture.

The bottom line is that you can use a disposal for biodegradable stuff, but the more you put into the septic tank, the more quickly the solids will have to get pumped out. I'd rather delay that as long as possible and keep my kitchen scraps out of the septic tank. So, to sum it up, "just because you can, doesn't mean you should!"

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 10:24PM
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I have some friends who live in the boonies in Idaho and have both a disposal and a septic tank. The house has been that way since it was built in the 70's and there have been no troubles so far. They do lots of composting, but the disposal is great when scraping crud off of dishes.


    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 1:50AM
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I've had a disposal with my septic since we moved into this house almost 6 years ago. Use it sparingly. Really just for the little gobs of gook that get stuck in the drain. I put disposals in both sinks in this kitchen because I'm so used to having one. Both times we've had the tank pumped we were told it was in great shape.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 2:27AM
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Thanks for the input. Since I'll probably only use the disposal for all those little bits and pieces, I think I'll give it a whirl (excuse the pun).

    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 12:02PM
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Another here on well & septic I wouldn't be without it.
You don't put protein in compost (rotting stench) so I use it when I have things that won't go.

I'm also another who seldom cooks.
It just seemed so primitive to be without.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 12:22PM
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We are also on septic with a disposal. I grew up in the city and my mom put nearly ANYTHING down it, you name it down it went! DH grew up in the country with septic and no disposal.

So - with our current situation we have it and we use it for the 'bits and pieces that get away' such as a cheerio here or there. We always scrape plates first and it takes care of anything that is missed. DH is very strict about it but I have put a few minor things down it when he's not looking, lol! Even with that light use I'd not be without it either. I hate shaking out the trap with all that couscous in there, yuck.

Our septic has been fine also - going on 14 years. We've pumped it a couple times but never have had to do anything more.

Family of 4 - I cook and we don't eat out much.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 1:23PM
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We've had septic with disposal at three different houses over the past 25 years. We live in Pa where you are required to pump empty every three years. We had a septic drain bed issue due to maple trees in the first house but no tank problems. This house is still fine 25 years later as a rental.
Second house had sand mound with two tanks for 18 years Never a problem.
Current house is 150 y/o cesspool and yes we have a disposer (incinerators one for septics). Five years no problems and we dont pump this as its a cesspool. I compost what can be composted but run the disposer to keep large chunks from pipe clogging.
The newer disposals run things so fine that its more of an issue of the bacteria being able to keep up. Or so my septic buddies say.
I'm putting one in the new house and will compost the appropriate items but like to have the back up of a disposal if everyone else in the family and guests are not as careful.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 3:28PM
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We're just finishing up a kitchen, and our contractor was unusually firm on the side of no disposal. His explanation had to do not with stuff in the tank (not a bad thing), but with the fine grind that disposals produce. The little bits are light enough that they float off and can clog the field.
Sounds plausible. I was inclined to not put one in since we compost, so we didn't.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 3:28PM
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