Do automatic dishwashers harm septic systems?

Household chores are really what they are—chores. They take time and if you don’t get any kind of help, you end up spending your entire day maintaining order and cleanliness and not have spare time for yourself and for your family. This is why there’s a continuous flow of innovative appliances that aim to make your life easier. While some of these newer technologies are effective and safe for septic systems, others may cause instability inside the sensitive environment within your septic system. One of the technology’ gifts to man is the dishwasher and it has be proven to be an indispensable tool in the kitchen that helps you get rid of the filthy kitchenware that your household uses everyday. With the handy and ready dishwasher, you can have clean dishes anytime, any day. But if you are a homeowner, would having such a contraption be a contradiction to your septic system? Do automatic dishwashers harm septic systems that digests and recycles your solid wastes?

When it comes to the water volume that the dishwasher utilizes, this does not usually affect the septic system at all. While the detergent content of the dishwasher wastewater is diluted, it may pose a threat to the bacteria within the septic system. When you use a dishwasher, the detergents you pour in do not normally lather up too much while the surfactants lift the dirt and other substances from the dishes – aggressively spraying hot water to do all the necessary work.

The regular dishwashing detergents that you use may or may not do a lot of damage in the septic tank per se, but they do make their way to the surface water or groundwater in many cases since over 50% off all septic systems in the country are in disarray or in need of attention. The chemicals pose a hazard to the surrounding environment since the surfactants in the detergents are known to be very toxic to some species of fish. They interfere with the ability of the gills to absorb oxygen from the water. The phosphates accelerate the growth of algae in the surface water. Eutrophication is the end-product that deprives the living organisms in the water of oxygen. When this happens, the affected bodies of water are tagged as dead zones wherein there is no fish or aquatic plants are present anymore. As you can see, it is the surface water or ground water that is highly affected by the dishwashing detergents used every time you turn on your automatic dishwasher.

During social occasions or those times when you have an excess amount of visitors or guests in your home, dishwashers can work triple time. This accelerated use causes greater amounts of potentially toxic material to flow into the safe zone of your septic system. The increased chemicals can radically deplete colony counts inside your septic and speed up or cause clogging downstream. Whenever people get together, food seems to be the ice breaker and that food leads to dirty dishes. You can’t serve your important guests with paper products so keep aware of when and how many people you plan to entertain regularly.

Too much dumping of dishwashing detergents, food stuffs and just plain excess water will have an immediate impact on your septic system. If you feel as though you are going to be using the dishwasher up and beyond what might be gauged as normal, consider adding a French drain or drywell to handle the dishwasher water. These independent type collection systems are relatively inexpensive and will take a massive load off of the septic by diverting the grey water elsewhere. Most drywell systems only take up a small footprint of yard space and are buried for aesthetics.

To resolve the overloading of the drain fields, it is better if you install a drywell or a gray water system as a receptacle and dispersement system for the dishwasher water. This way, you will be confident that the drain field is safe from too much dishwasher use since the toxic load will be diverted elsewhere. If you are thinking of not using your dishwasher again, think twice. There is no point in not making your life lighter by not using assistants like the dishwasher. Whatever you decide, at the very least, select a dishwasher detergent that appears to use the least amount of toxic ingredients while still having suitable power to clean your dishes with one cycle. Running the dishwasher twice using a substandard detergent only makes thing worse.