How Do Products Applied to the Drain Field Work?
There are three categories of products that I will talk about today:
1. Bacteria and Enzymes 2. Sodium Percarbonate Based Products 3. Lime Sulfur Based Products
Bacteria and Enzymes
All bacteria based products, and there are many, work in the same way. The live bacteria, when introduced to a friendly environment where there is "food", will multiply and as they do, they create enzymes which digest various organic and inorganic substances that occur in the septic tank and drain field. Some manufacturers encourage the monthly application of their product(s) to a septic system. Some even say "never pump your tank again" or "Guaranteed Results". These statements have caused more complaints with the Better Business Bureau than any others. It's a good idea to check local Better Business Bureau ratings before forking over your hard earned money to a company with a lot of complaints filed against it. The benefit of applying bacteria to a septic system on a regular basis is dubious, to say the least. For more information on this subject read my previous post. It is impossible to guarantee the successful restoration of a septic drainage system through the use of bacteria based products. There are soil conditions that cannot be treated with bacteria. One such condition is caused by sodium bonding of soils containing moderate to large amounts of clay, more about this later. Although high-grade bacteria are effective at digesting organic sludge and bio mat that occurs in the drain field, there are other methods available to address extreme problems. I often recommend a combination treatment where a system has had a total failure. My combination shock treatment works about 90% of the time at restoring failed systems. However, that remaining 10% need special treatment that goes beyond just applying products.
Most septic service companies have the means to flush out lateral lines with high pressure water jets, called hydro-jetting. As the water jet loosens debris from the walls of the lateral pipes it is washed back and pumped to remove the backwash water and the debris from the system. The next step is a shock application of lime-sulfur (Septic Perc) followed by a treatment of high grade bacteria (Mega Bio). This combination treatment is the best available at restoring failed systems. I'm not saying it's a "silver bullet" it doesn't always work, but it increases the chance of restoring a really messed up system.
Sodium percarbonate is the main ingredient in the popular product Oxy Clean. Internet marketers sell the product under various brand names. This product can dissolve grease and sludge from a drain field. Here's one manufacturer's description: "Septic ----- naturally reacts with the buildup of sulfides in the drain field. This chemical reaction produces a nontoxic material which flows and allows the soil bacteria to work. Another product of the reaction is oxygen. The oxygen does two things, 1) aids in the replenishment of the soil's aerobic bacteria, and 2) reduces the soil compaction creating passages for water to flow." Sodium percarbonate removes sulfide buildup, but that's not the whole story. The manufacturer's website goes on to say that a treatment using their product should be followed by an application of bacteria. They also say that sodium bonding cannot be treated with sodium percarbonate. The real kicker, to me, is that it takes three or four applications over the period of a few days for the stuff to work. Truth be told, I used to sell sodium percarbonate under the brand name Septic Oxygen. I stopped because of the obvious problems which make the product difficult to sell.
Lime Sulfur Based Products
Lime Sulfur has been used in agriculture for many years both as a pesticide and as a soil conditioner. The granddaddy product, Septic Seep, was invented in the labs of Chevron Ortho in 1953. I have been selling this product since 1999. I have hundreds of testimonials about how well this product has performed for thousands of my customers. To understand how lime sulfur works you have to know about sodium bonding of soil that contains clay. I could restate it here but it's easier to follow this link. Septic Seep became so successful that in the last few years knock-off products have arrived on the market. These products are nothing more than imitations of the original. Their chemical content may or may not be similar to the original product and their success rate? I have no idea. I do know that these entrepreneurs have taken aim at my business and they have made a dent but I stay philosophical about it. After all, imitation is the highest form of flattery. Septic Perc is my very own brand. It is similar to Septic Seep and the imitators but it is really a new and improved version. It uses lime sulfur as its main ingredient but it is in a form that lacks the nasty rotten egg odor and the caustic pH of its predecessors. These features make it easier and safer to use, and more friendly to the environment. The best part is it performs at least as well and, in lab tests, statistically better than the stinky stuff.