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What is a Septic Tank Alarm System & What To Do If It’s Going Off.

What Is A Septic Tank Alarm System For?

If you have a septic tank installed in your house, you may have a septic tank alarm system somewhere in your home. In this article, we will take a look at what these alarms are for and how they function.

Need Help With Your Septic Alarm or System Repair

So, what is a septic tank alarm system? A septic tank alarm system is a device that monitors the water elevation inside the tank and alerts you when the water level rises higher than it should be, this could be an indication of a problem with the septic tank pump needed in some systems. 

Not all systems need a pump to move the effluent (wastewater) from the tank to the drainage field. Systems that are designed using gravity to siphon the wastewater downhill from tank to drainage area do not need a pump. Since gravity doesn’t stop working, there is no need for a septic tank alarm to indicate a potential problem with the pumping system in an electrical-based pumping. Read this article if you want to learn more about does your septic system require electricity.

In the remainder of this blog post, we will take a deeper look at septic tank alarm systems, namely how they function, why you might need one, and what to do if it’s going off.

How Does a Septic Tank System Alarm Function?

Let’s look at exactly how a septic tank system alarm works to help us fully understand what it is.


A Septic tank Alarm System may be designed with a few different types of notifications depending on which you have. The Alarm may include a Green/Red Light, an Audible Alarm or Buzzer, or both.

Some municipalities require alarms to be tied into the municipal grid so authorities can monitor malfunctioning waste systems.

Septic Tank Alarm Systems for Electrical-Based Pumps

A Septic Tank System alarm works with the use of a float that is placed inside the tank to monitor water levels.  Think of this much like the float in the back of your toilet tank.  In the toilet tank, the float monitors the water in your tank, and when it reaches a predefined level it should turn off the water so no more flows into the tank.

In a septic system, the float on your alarm monitors the water in the same exact way, its job is to let you know when the water level in the tank has risen to a preset level indicating a potential problem with the system.

Septic Tank Alarms for Aerobic Systems Compressor Pumps

You may also need a septic tank alarm if your home has an Aerobic based system.  These systems push condensed air through the system to help with the decomposition process of the sewage.

In these types of systems, a septic tank alarm is used to indicate a possible problem in the air pressure, which could mean there is an issue with the compressor pump is malfunctioning.

Why Would You Need a Septic Tank Alarm System?

So now that you have a clear understanding of what a Septic Tank Alarm System does, you may still be asking why you need one.

Remember that the alarm is used to alert you to a problem in the septic system that can lead to potentially bigger problems down the road.  The goal of the alarm is to have correct the issues before something catastrophic happens.

Let’s take the example of an electric-based pumping system that needs to pump the effluent (wastewater) out of the septic tank, uphill to the drainage area. (This is pretty common) Then the system can’t operate using gravity to move the effluent out of the tank and through the rest of the system.

So, an electric-based pump is placed in the tank to either pump the water out of the tank in pre-set intervals or based on the water level hitting a certain height. If your pump were to fail, then the water levels would rise higher than they should, leaving the potential for sewage to flow back into your house or basement.

The alarm is a fail-safe that will alert you that the water level is too high, aka the pump is not working for some reason, allowing the water level to build up in the tank.

The Alarm in an Aerobic System

The Alarm in an Aerobic System also lets you know that the compressor pump isn’t working properly, meaning air isn’t getting into the system at the required level to decompose the waste.

If you have any type of pump component to your system, it is a good idea to have a functioning alarm on the system.

Where is Your Septic Tank Alarm System Located?

You septic tank alarm may be located in a few different places. If you hear it going off check the following locations to try and locate your alarm. Don’t panic it’s not a fire or carbon monoxide alarm!

Your Septic tank alarm may be located in the following places first:

  • On the side of the tank
  • Connected to the side of your house
  • In your basement
  • In a utility closet

What does it Mean if My Septic Tank Alarm is Going off?

What does it mean if your septic tank alarm is going off? If your septic tank alarm is going off it essentially means that the alarm is detecting an improper water level or problem with the pump in the septic tank for electrical-based assisted pumping systems or a problem with the air pressure the compressor pump of your Aerobic Septic System.

But don’t panic there may be a few other reasons that your alarm is going off besides total pump failure.

What to Do if Your Septic Alarm is Going Off?

So if you have an alarm that is going off, you probably want to know what you should do next to help troubleshoot the potential problem with your septic tank system.

When you hear your alarm going off follow these steps:

  1. Locate the alarm, if you don’t know where it is read above to find some common locations for septic tank alarms.
  2. If your alarm has an audible alarm, it should have a silence button or switch on the alarm. You can hit this button to silence the alarm. (Notice the Red Light on the alarm will stay lit until the problem is resolved.) The silence button just keeps you from going crazy from the sound.
  3. Your septic alarm system should be wired to a separate breaker than the actual pump it is monitoring. So the next thing you want to do is locate the breaker for the pump and make sure it hasn’t been tripped. Sometimes these breakers can trip or be turned off and they are left off by accident, this would keep the pump from turning on and pumping out the water level from the tank. This would cause the water level to rise above the desired level, causing the alarm to trip. If your breaker was tripped just turn it back on, and the pump should kick back on and pump the access water out.
  4. Sometimes one of the floats could have a problem giving you a false positive on the water level. If you are comfortable checking this then make sure your floats are properly attached and functioning properly.
  5. If you determine your pump or aerator is not functioning properly then you can either replace them yourself or call a local septic company to help you.

How to Test Your Septic Alarm?

It’s a good idea to test your septic tank alarm periodically to make sure it is working correctly. I would recommend once every 6 months to be safe, obviously the more the better.

Testing your septic tank alarm is usually pretty easy. Each septic tank alarm should have a test switch that you simply turn on to test your alarm.

Here is a video on how to test your septic tank alarm.

Related Questions

Can Heavy Rains or Flooding Cause My Septic Tank Alarm to Go Off?

The simple answer is yes it can.  If flooding in your system is bad enough it could keep your system from being able to pump water out of the tank into the drainage field. Which would create the water levels in your tank to rise, and set the alarm off.

If you are experiencing heavy flooding, reduce water usage as much as possible until the flooding subsides.

If you have a broken lid to your septic tank, heavy rain may get into the tank causing a high-level alarm to go off.  You want to make sure to replace the cracked cover or lid as soon as possible to keep the tank sealed as tight as possible.

Hope this has helped answer your questions about your septic tank alarm system. If you still have questions consider calling a septic system expert to help diagnose and repair the problem. Find local Septic Companies

If you have other septic system related questions check out our septic Wiki Section for more information.

If you need to get your septic system serviced find a local professional in our state by state directory. Simply click your state below.



Do Septic Tanks Need Electricity? The Answer is in the Septic tank Pump!

Do Septic Tanks Need Electricity?

If you are living in a home with a septic system you may be wondering if there is anything you need to know about the operation of your septic tank when there is no electrical power available, like in the case of a power outage.

So, does a septic tank need electricity? No, most septic tanks do not need electricity to operate as they are designed with a siphon to allow gravity and the slope of the system to move wastewater from the tank to the drainage field. 

However, there are some types of systems that may include electrical components that do require electricity to operate. Continue to read this article to find out more about each of these types of septic systems and why electricity is important to some and not others.

How Does the Septic System Design Dictate a Need For Electricity?

Gravity-Based Septic System Siphon Design

Like we mentioned above, most septic systems are designed to allow gravity and the pitch of the system pipes to move the waste into the septic tank, and then out of the tank into the leach or drainage field.

You may think that this is a simple and archaic method of moving your wastewater through the system, I know I did when I compared it to other options, however, what you will quickly come to understand is that when it comes to septic tanks the simpler the design the more elegant it is.


Think about it this way, if your system is designed to use gravity to move the wastewater through the system, there is less chance of a mechanical part breaking and causing headaches as the parts wear out.

Also, last time I checked we don’t use our gravitational pull and start floating into space every time the power goes out. This means in this type of system, you don’t have to worry about electricity being on or off for your septic system to function properly.

Electrical-Based Septic Tank Pump Designed Systems

If your system is designed using a septic tank pump then it will need to have electricity to operate. That means in a power outage where power is cut off from your septic tank pump, you will need to watch water usage to make sure your septic tank doesn’t back up.

These electrical septic tank pump systems DO REQUIRE electricity as you may have imagined by the name.

One of the reasons these electric-based systems require electricity is because they are built with an electrical pump that pumps the waste water from the septic tank to the drainage field.

What is a Septic Tank Pump?

What is a septic tank pump? A septic tank pump is an electrical submersible water pump that can either be installed in the final chamber of your septic tank, or in a separate pump sump after the septic tank. This pump typically operates with a float switch, and when the float reaches a certain level it kicks on the to pump wastewater out of the tank.

So unlike a septic tank system that works on gravity to move the processed wastewater out of the tank, in an electrical system, the pump is required to move the effluent (wastewater) out of the tank.

With these types of electrical septic systems, a loss of power can cause issues for you as it can cause your septic system to back up.

Why Does My Septic System Have a Pump?

Ok, so you might be asking yourself why does your septic system have a pump? A Septic System will have a pump if you need to pump the effluent (wastewater) from the septic tank up to a higher level. 

This might be needed when your final effluent disposal location (aka. drainage or leach field) are located at a higher elevation than the septic tank outlet, meaning a gravity-based siphon system can’t be used to move the water from the septic tank to the leach field.

What Should You Do During a Power Outage if You have an Electrical-Based Septic System?

If you have a septic system that uses electrical components like a septic tank pump and you are faced with a power outage to the system, then here are a few things you can do to minimize problems.

  • Limit Use of Water During The Outage
    • Take shorter showers
    • Try not to run the sinks for extending amount of time
    • Try not to flush the toilets too much
    • Laundry should be minimized if you have power to it
    • Limit baths and dishwashing

During a power outage your electrical septic tank pump won’t kick on to help move wastewater out of your septic tank, this could cause a backup and major problems so make sure you limit the strain on the septic system by watching your water usage while the electricity is out.

If you have a gravity based system you should be fine mantaiing normal water usage during a power outage.  That is of course unless your house also uses a well and requires an electrical pump to supply the house with water.

Can I install back up power on my septic tank pump?

You can have an electrician install a backup power supply to keep your septic system running in the case of a power outage.

If your system was sized appropriately, your first septic tank compartment should have enough room to last at least a day or so before it backs up. So if the power comes back on in that time, the pump should kick back on and move the wastewater out of the septic tank with no problems if you conserved water usage during the outage.

Other Septic System and Electrical Related Questions

How can I tell if I have an electric pump based septic system?

Here are some hints that might help you quickly figure out what kind of system you have.

  1. Look at the engineering and installation blueprint to see a pump is mentioned in the plans.
  2. Take a look at your drainage field, is it on higher ground from your septic tank. If it is then you know the effluent is being pumped uphill, which means you can’t be using a gravity-based system and must have an electrical pump installed.
  3. Call the listing agent or previous owner of the house if you recently moved in
  4. Call the septic tank inspector or take a look at your septic system inspection report to see if there is mention of the system components.
  5. Contact the city to get a record of the permit and see if they can help you with the question.

What if my Septic Tank Alarm goes off during a power outage?

Sometimes a septic tank alarm can go on during an outage, or when you restore power to the system. You can silence the alarm if has that feature.  But what you want to do is if the alarm goes off when power is restored, wait for 24 hours the alarm should stop once the water level is pumped out of the tank by the pump.

If the alarm is still going off at that point then you want to call a professional to have them check it out.

If you want help finding a local septic system professional click here. 

What Should I do next to know what to do with my septic system the next time the electricity goes out?

The first thing you want to do is find out exactly what kind of system you have in your home. As we’ve discussed in this article the type of system design you have will make a big difference in how a power outage affects your septic system.

  1. Find out if you have a gravity-based system or an electrical pump-based septic system.
  2. If you have an electrical pump-based system then make sure you and your family have a water usage plan for when the power goes out. The best thing to do is to have strict water usage rules in place before you are in that situation.
    1. Include a list of water-based activities that continue, and another list of activities that should be postponed or limited until the power returns.
    2. If a storm is on the horizon try to have people take showers as close to the storm hitting as possible to avoid added pressure to shower during the outage.
  3. Consider having a backup generator installed on your home or system to keep the electricity going to the system in times of prolonged outages.

I hope this article has helped answer the questions you have about your septic system and its electrical requirements.


What is a Septic Tank Riser and How Do You Install One?

What Is A Septic Riser & How Are They Installed?

When you own a new home with a septic tank there are many terms that you may not have otherwise heard of or understood prior to moving in, one of those terms for me was Septic Tank Riser.

Tut Tite Septic tank riser

What is a Septic Tank Riser? A Septic Tank Riser is a plastic or concrete piece of pipe that is installed from the top of the Septic Tank Pump-Out or Access Port to the surface. Older septic tanks were often installed without a riser meaning their access ports were underground and required digging of the topsoil for access.

Why Do You Need a Septic Tank Riser?

The next question you might be asking yourself is, why do you need a septic tank riser? To better understand this, let’s start by laying out why you would want to actually access your septic tank access port.

Your Septic Tank Access port or pump-out port needs to be accessed anytime your tank needs to be emptied.  Depending on the size of your tank, the number of people in the house, and the demand put onto the system, you will need to pump your tank about every 3 years.

So what that means is, if you have a septic tank without a riser, every three years you will need to:

  • Find your septic tank
  • Locate the area above the access ports ( You better hope you have this clearly marked)
  • Literally, dig down until you are able to get to the tank.

The depth of your septic tank will vary depending on the depth of your plumbing and the layout of your property, but it isn’t uncommon for your septic tank access ports to be about 4 Feet below the service.

So if you have a tank that doesn’t have installed risers, then you will need to do some digging each and every time you need to access your septic tank.

What are the Pros and Cons of Installing a Septic Tank Riser?

Pros of Septic Tank Risers

  • The obvious Pro is that you will make accessing your septic tank pumping port far easier.
  • That will save you a ton of time and work when you need to get your tank emptied.
  • Also if you are unable to do the digging yourself, you will usually get an increased price in your septic tank service bill due to the time and work your pumping company must spend when they are pumping your septic tank.
  • If you decide to sell, having a septic tank riser will make it easier for buyers unfamiliar with septic systems to understand the system.

Cons of Septic Tank Risers

  • The major con to the having septic tank risers installed on your septic tank is that you will now have the lids exposed on the surface of your lawn.  Which can be pretty ugly.
  • If your tank doesn’t currently have a septic tank riser, you will need to spend some money to install one.

Can You Install a Septic Tank Riser on an Older Septic System?

If you are having a new septic system installed, more than likely it will include septic tank risers. However, if you have an older septic system there is a good chance that your current septic system doesn’t have septic tank risers installed.

So your question may be, can you install septic tank risers on an older septic tank? The answer is yes, you can install a septic tank riser on an older septic tank. 

How to Install a Septic Tank Riser?

There are two ways to install a septic tank riser on your older septic system.

  1. Call a Septic Tank Professional: This is obvious but if you aren’t handy, like me. Then what you want to do is contact a local septic tank expert and let them know that you have an older septic tank and would like septic tank risers installed. Click here If you would like help finding a local septic tank service.
  2. Do-it-yourself installation of your septic tank riser: You can definitely install a septic tank riser if you choose to do it yourself.

DIY- How to Install a Septic Tank Riser Yourself?

So if you want to go ahead and install your septic tank riser yourself, here are the steps you will need.

  1. Septic Tank Riser
  2. Transition Ring
  3. Caulk Gun and Henry’s Roofing Tar
  4. Septic Tank Riser Lid


Here are the steps you need to take to install your own septic tank riser on a concrete septic tank.

  1. Locate your septic tank
  2. Specifically, locate the grown above the access ports.
  3. Dig down to the septic tank until you get to the top.
  4. Remove the lid on the concrete tank
  5. Measure the opening from on the diagonal, from corner to corner. This will give you the size of the riser that you need. Make sure you measure on an angle from corner to corner or you will get too small of a diameter.
  6. Connect the Riser to the transition ring, add the roofing tar where it meets.
  7. Put the Roofing tar on the bottom of the transition ring
  8. Then install the septic tank riser above the tank access hole.

Here is a quick video that shows you exactly this process for installing your septic tank risers.

Here is a different way to install your septic tank riser using anchors. 

What Brand of Septic Tank Riser is Best?

There are a couple of good brands when it comes to purchasing a quality septic tank riser. But the one that really stands out in terms of consistent customer reviews is Tuf-Tite Septic Tank Risers.

Luckily you can find the Tuf-Tite Septic Tank Risers at local septic tank wholesalers or even more convenient you can order them directly on Amazon. Check out the latest pricing on Amazon here.  (Full disclosure this is an affiliate link, so if you purchase through it, Amazon will pay me a small commission. Thanks in advance if you decide to do that. )

Related Question

What Are the other brands of Septic Tank Risers?

Another brand of septic tank risers, lids, and adaptive rings that many people use and you could shop and compare to the Tuf-Tite septic tank risers is Polylok septic tank risers and lids.

Do I need to install a septic tank riser on my septic tank?

No, you do not have to install a septic tank riser on your older septic tank. Not having a riser will make no difference on the operation or life of your septic tank.

The only effect it will have is on the work it takes to get to your septic tank access ports when you are having it pumped.

Now if your tank is hard to get to and that causes you to put off emptying and getting it pumped as recommended, then that could have a detrimental effect on your septic tank.

So the short answer is, as long as you are willing to dig and reach your septic tank pumping port then you absolutely don’t need to install a septic tank riser.

Can you hide your septic tank lids after installing a Septic tank Riser?

So the point of having a septic tank riser installed is to make it much easier to actually access your septic tank, so you should be careful when trying to hide it.

Don’t hide it by planting bushes or with any permanent structure that would keep you from being able to access your septic tank pumping access port.

But with that being said, I recognize the lids in the middle of your yard might be a bit unsightly. So what you can do is use camouflage type of lid coverings that are designed to look like rocks or natural elements on your lawn.

These are great options as they are easily moved when you need to get to your tank but still look better than ugly lids and grates.

If you want to check out some cool covers that look like rocks, take a look here.

Get a local septic tank professional here.

If you need to get your septic system serviced find a local professional in our state by state directory. Simply click your state below.



Does a Septic Tank Need a Vent Pipe?

Does A Septic Tank Need A Vent Pipe?

Septic tanks and systems aren’t overly complicated but they do come in different configurations, meaning people often have questions about what their septic system should include. Today we will specifically discuss septic tank vents since this was one of the questions I had when researching my new septic system.

So let’s start by answering the question, does a septic tank need a vent? Yes, your septic system and all sewage systems for that matter need a venting system to allow gases to escape the system avoiding dangerous build ups or airlocks to form.  Your Septic System should have 3 methods of pipe ventilation, Inlet & Outlet, Roof-Vent, & Yard Based Pipe Vents. 

Continue reading this article to find out why septic system ventilation is important and the different ways in which a properly installed and functioning system will vent-out gasses.

How a Septic System is Vented?

So we have already stated that all sewage systems need ventilation to help gasses escape as needed. However, we haven’t dug into what that looks like on a typical septic system.

Your septic system can be vented in several ways. Here they are:


Venting Method # 1: Inlet and Outlet Pipe Ventilation

The first way your septic system is ventilated is through the inlet and outlet pipes. The inlet pipe allows waste to flow from your house into the septic tank and the outlet pipe allows it to flow from the tank to the drainage field. These pipes, when clear, should allow gases to flow out into the drainage field.

Venting Method #2: The Vent Pipe in Your Roof

Roof-vent pipe

Have you ever wondered what those vent pipes coming out of your roof were? I know I did, actually, I thought they were some type of vent from the bathroom fan but turns out those venting pipes coming out of your roof are designed to pull septic system odors and gases away from your home.

Here is a great little video that explains why plumbing vent pipes on your roof are important.

Venting Method #3: Yard-Based Septic Vent Pipe
EPA Septic Tank

The yard-based septic vent usually looks like a capped piece of white PVC above the leach field. It may also look like a candy cane shaped pipe in your yard.  The purpose of this pipe is it works in concert with the roof vent pipe to allow the air pressure in the drain to equalize.  When water displaces air in the vent pipes, it needs to normalize.

What is a Septic Tank Vent For?

Ultimately your sewer or septic system vent pipes allows for equalization of air pressure, and as a place for septic-gases to exit the system safely. The gases are a normal byproduct of the bacteria that break down the waste in both a septic or sewer system.

These gases typically have a foul odor or rotten egg smell. The gasses escape through the vents and are carried away from your home or yard.

Why Does My Septic Vent Smell?

The bacteria in a septic tank are anaerobic meaning they work without oxygen from the air. The result of the of the anaerobic activity generates odors most commonly from the hydrogen sulfide gas emitted.

This can cause a rotten egg smell.  Sometimes the smell may only happen on occasion, in that case, it may be due to specific wind current pushing wind from roof-vents and not necessarily a plumbing problem.  These occasional downdrafts are enough to make your yard unpleasant and make you think there could be a bigger problem.

However, if the smell persists it may be indicative of a clog or problem with your septic system.

How do I stop my septic tank Vent from Smelling?

If the smell is coming from a downdraft off your roof vent then a simple solution may be to lengthen the plumbing vent and extend well above the roof line. This will allow the gas to escape with great distance from the roofline, making it hard for a downdraft to push the gas down towards the ground.

Sometimes a downdraft from neighboring trees can be averted by cutting the trees, but this can be costly.

Others have had success adding a charcoal filter to the top of the vent.  Make sure the filter doesn’t restrict air flow.

Other Vent Related Questions:

Why does my Septic Tank Vent have a Pipe in the yard?

The pipes in your yard may be a sewer or septic clean out. It allows easy access to check the system should there be a problem.

Here is a quick video showing you what one of these vent pipes in your yard might look like.

What is the right septic tank vent pipe height?

The height of your rooftop vent pipe is usually dictated by local plumbing and building codes. So make sure you check with your local inspector to find out what the proper height is for your city or town.

To cut down on the potential of downdraft odors, you probably want your vent to 1-2 feet above your roof line.

As for the inspection septic system access pipes in your yard, often the city inspectors need these pipes to be sticking out quite high for final inspection of the septic system, however when it is done, they can usually be cut down even to the ground.

What are Signs My Septic or Sewer Vents are Clogged?

Clogged Septic or Sewer vents are an often overlooked plumbing issue. If the sewer or septic vents on your roof become clogged they may cause various plumbing issues.

Remember these vents are essential in regulating air pressure in your system. Without proper air pressure in your plumbing system that allows air to flow freely, you could incur drainage issues.

Here are some of the signs that your septic or sewer system vents might be clogged:

  • Gurgling Noises: If you hear gurgling or see water bubbling in drains. Or you may hear gurgling noises in your toilet shortly after flushing. The gurgling can be caused by are escaping through the drain.  The air should be flowing up and out of the sewer/septic vents. But if it’s clogged it has nowhere to escape so it goes up through the drains.
  • Slow Drains: A single slow drain usually means there is a clog in that that sewer pipe. But if you are noticing slow drains throughout the house then it can be an indication that the septic/sewer vents are clogged.
  • Sewage odors: If you are noticing a foul odor coming from your drains or toilet then you might be smelling air backing up through the drains.

What do I do if Septic Tank Vent Pipe is Blocked?

Snow-Caused Blockage

If you just started noticing the symptoms of a clogged septic or sewer vent pipe and the roof is covered by snow. Usually occurs on a flat room. Then it might be an indication that the vent pipe is blocked by snow or ice.  This can cause all the same symptoms of any other type of more permanent blockage.

Remedy: You can try removing the snow from the vent pipe in the short term.  Then when the weather is a bit better, have a plumber extend the height of your vent pipe so it is less likely to occur in the future.

Debris Blockage of the Vent Pipe

Your vent pipe should be slightly angled to keep leaves and debrief from entering the pipe and causing a blockage. If it isn’t, then it is possible debris has entered the pipe and caused a blockage.

Remedy: Have your plumber come out and clean the pipe, they have a special grabber tool for this.  Then have them re-angle the vent pipe to keep it from happening again.

Sewage Clogs of the Vent

Sometimes clogs can happen in the sewer line right where the vent pipe meets the sewer line. These problems can occur from items like wet wipes or feminine hygiene products being flushed down the toilet.  Flushing this stuff in a septic or sewer system is NOT RECOMMEND.

Remedy: Your plumber may need to access the blockage from the roof vent and use an auger down through the system to push the blockage free.


Here is a video showing how to clean the vent stack on your roof.

I hope this article has helped explain why your septic tank system needs proper ventilation.  Also, I know I wasn’t aware of exactly what the septic vent pipes really looked like, hope I was able to answer that question for you today.

If you need to get your septic system serviced find a local professional in our state by state directory. Simply click your state below.



New Jersey Septic Tank Services by City

LIST OF New Jersey Septic Tank Pumping and Cleaning Services by CITY.

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What is Rid-X? How Does It Work and Is It Worth IT?

What is Rid-X and Does It Work?

One of the most common questions people ask about septic tank maintenance involves the usage of septic treatment products like Rid-X. In this article, we will take a look at these products and end the debate once and for all as to how they work and are they worth it.

What does Rid-X Do? Rid-X is a product that is marketed to replace or add bacteria to your septic tank system in order to help it break down household waste. According to the Rid-X website, each package of Rid-X contains the following:

  • Cellulase breaks down toilet paper, vegetable matter, and some foods
  • Lipase breaks down fats, oils, and grease
  • Protease breaks down proteins
  • Amylase breaks down starches

In the rest of this article, we will take a closer look at exactly why your septic system needs bacteria, what it’s used for, and how Rid-X can help.


How do Septic Tanks Work?

Before we get into to some of the common septic system problems and the DIY solutions you can do save money on your system’s maintenance; we think it would be helpful to at least explain exactly how septic tanks work.


Let’s take a quick peek at how a septic systems work.

A septic system is comprised of two main components: 1) a Septic Tank and 2) a Drainage field.  This design allows the wastewater from your home to flow into a holding tank, where it is processed by bacteria before the effluent or wastewater leaves the tank and flows into the drainage field.

When water leaves your home it flows into the Septic tank. The septic tank can also be considered a holding tank. In the septic tank, the solid waste falls to the bottom of the tank, (this is called the sludge layer). Oil, Soap, and Grease float to the top of the tank creating the Scum Layer. The remaining wastewater or effluent sits in the middle layer and as water fills the tank it exits the tank into the drainage area or leach field.

Here are two great videos to help explain exactly how septic systems work and the role of the solids tank.

Learn more about Septic Systems  on Wikipedia

What Role Does Bacteria Play in a Septic Tank?

Now that you have a better understanding of how your septic tank and the system works, let’s dive a little deeper into the role that bacteria has to play in your septic system.  When the household waste enters the septic tank a few things are going on. The Solid waste sinks to the bottom of the tank, this is called the Sludge Layer.

The grease, Soap residue, and oil float to the top of the tank, it’s called the scum layer.  The bacteria in the tank are what break down the solid waste in the tank. The important thing in a properly sized tank is that the usage and size of the tank allow for the bacteria to do its job before the water flows out of the tank.

If the bacteria don’t break down the waste before the water flows to the drainage field it could clog the drainage field and cause your system to back up.

Why Would I Add More Bacteria to The Septic Tank with a Product Like Rid-X?

Rid-X is marketed to essentially supplement the natural bacteria in the septic tank with additional bacteria in the product. Think of it as a way to supplement the bacteria that is already in the tank. It is worth noting that most government sites say the use of products like Rid-X aren’t necessary as there are enough naturally occurring bacteria in your septic tank.

Rid-X markets the following on its site in terms of product expectations:

The enzymes in RID-X® begin working as soon as they come in contact with water. The bacteria take 2-4 hours to germinate and then begin to break down solid waste. If the temperature and conditions are favorable, then the bacteria will multiply to the maximum level that the environment will allow in about 2-4 days. Since septic systems vary, the speed at which the bacteria and enzymes break down waste varies.

Why is Septic System Maintenance Important?

Septic systems should be properly maintained with regular service to ensure you avoid shortening the life of your Septic System.  Properly maintained systems can last up to 50 years, which is great since they are can be very expensive to replace.  Routine septic system pumping should be performed every 2-4 years depending on the size of your tank and the level of usage. Go Here To find Local Septic Tank Pumping Services.

If you think your septic tank may be full and needs to be pumped- read our article on the 8 warning signs your septic tank needs to be emptied.

How Can Rid-X Help Maintain Your Septic Tank?

Septic backups are often caused by a build-up of solid waste in the system.  This can be caused by systems bacteria levels falling too low, which would keep the waste from breaking down correctly, this would cause a build of the septic system and possible damage to the leach field.   One of the best things you can do to help maintain your septic system is using a septic tank treatment like Rid-X.

Using a Product like Rid X is a sound investment for a few dollars a month you can help maintain the health of your septic system and avoid getting stuck with a huge bill, new septic systems can cost of to 30,000 dollars depending on where you live, the size of the system, and engineering challenges. It is much easier to try and avoid these issues by simply adding a product like Ridx, consider it a little extra insurance on one of the most costly systems in your house.

Our recommendation is to be proactive about maintaining your system by using a product that costs a few bucks a month and avoid flushing thousands down the toilet in the future.

Related Questions to The Use of Rid-X from Their Site

Here are some Frequently asked questions about Rid-X from the manufactures Website. Please check their site out for the most up to date information on these questions and more about using Rid-X


Watch what you put down your drains. Taking long showers and doing extra loads of laundry can flush beneficial bacteria out of your septic system. Use  RID-X® to add 
beneficial bacteria and enzymes that help maintain your system.


All three products are formulated to have the same amount of active ingredients and are equally effective.



No, however, when used regularly, RID-X® liquid can help break down organic build-up in your pipes, to help prevent clogs before they happen.


No, either pour RID-X® down one drain or toilet or flush a RID-X® Septi-Pac down one toilet.

The conclusion of Our Rid-X Article

In the end, Rid-X can be thought of as a product that supplements the natural bacteria in your septic system. You now know how important bacteria and the breaking down of household waste in your septic tank is to the overall function of the septic system and to avoid costly repairs and problems down the road.

While government agencies don’t suggest the use of products like Rid-X and consider them as unnecessary. The manufacture of Rid-X is clear about how Rid-X works and how it can be used as a tool to maintain the balance of bacteria in your septic tank.

In the end, whether you decide to use a product like Rid-X or not, proper septic tank maintenance is non-negotiable if you want to ensure you get the most out of your septic system and avoid costly repairs.


If you need to get your septic system serviced find a local professional in our state by state directory. Simply click your state below.

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