In a normally functioning septic system, naturally occurring bacteria produce enzymes that break down the organic waste. This process allows the bacteria to “feed”, turning much of the waste into liquid and gases through digestive action. The bacteria help to keep the scum layer soft and loose, the sludge build-up to a minimum and enable the uninterrupted flow of the clarified liquid out to the leach field.
Some common household chemicals, such as bleach, paints or poisons, when overused, can kill the beneficial bacteria that populate the tank. When bacteria levels are not maintained, the remaining bacteria may not be sufficient for your septic system to function properly. In such a weakened system, the sewage will build up quickly; eventually blocking the outlet pipe or clogging the leach field. Should this happen, sewage and waste water will back up into the home, emptying out into bathrooms etc.