Are septic tank filters necessary?

A septic tank is a watertight container often made of concrete which allows the wastewater to settle. The solid particles are retained in the tank. They form a layer called scum on top of the water, followed by a layer of sludge at the bottom. This first phase, where organic waste decomposes anaerobically (without oxygen), has three stages. In short, it works as follows: organic matter goes into your septic tank and settles on top via gravity, then other waste separates itself from the water below thanks to bacterial action, then this separated liquid goes into drain fields or leaching beds out underground where it will be purified further.

The solids trapped at various levels in your septic system are what make maintaining your septic tank so important. Once the solid waste has settled at the bottom, the liquids that are filtered out of the wastewater flow through underground pipes to your leaching fields or drain fields, the pre-soaked up organic material will decompose in your ground, where it will be purified by microorganisms and used as fertilizer for plants or trees.

Are septic tank filters necessary?, Zazzy Home

Septic tank filters, also commonly known as septic system filter socks, are an often-overlooked component of many homes’ onsite sewage disposal systems. A filter sock is a porous plastic bag installed near the outlet of the septic tank,, which removes some solids prior to the effluent flowing into the drain field. By removing some of these solids, less scum and sludge will form at the end of the leaching field lines due to settling (and thus requiring a pumping out), and fewer clogs may occur in later years when roots find their way into the leaching system.

Without filtration of solids prior to entering the soil, it becomes much easier for roots to intrude into the leaching lines since they will not be blocked by large pieces of solids, which can make filter socks a very cost-effective filter system for many septic systems. However, if homeowners are dealing with clogged drains due to roots in their leaching line, installing filter socks may help keep that from occurring again because it will inhibit root intrusion into the pipes.

This question has been posed because I have heard conflicting reports on whether or not these should be installed on septic systems. Some people say they should always be used, and other people say they only need them if there is a problem with scum/sludge buildup or root intrusion.

Currently, there is no regulation in the United States regarding septic tank filter socks. However, they are most likely a necessity if the drain field is properly installed and has not been disturbed since installation (i.e., by digging near leaching lines). In addition, if the homeowner has root intrusion problems in their system (which can be identified by layered scum lines), it may be time to add filter socks; however, if there is no root intrusion or other type of solids-related problem with your system, then you probably do not need them because they will mainly serve as a backup for when your leaching line eventually clogs up due to roots in your line and/or due to the normal settling that occurs in your septic tank (which could be indicated by regular scum line buildup).

It is important to note that the reason why these are not regulated comes from the fact that due to “variability of soils, climate, and usage” (x), it is not possible for them to come up with a blanket regulation stating that filter socks must be used. Every septic system is different; thus, every system’s sock requirements will differ depending on drain field layout/type, soil type surrounding the field, groundwater level, etc. For example, if you live in an area where there are high levels of solids present in your leaching lines or root intrusion is occurring at an accelerated rate, then installing filter socks may help prolong the life of the system. On the other hand, if you live in an area where soils are of low solids content or root intrusion is not a major issue, then filter socks may be an unnecessary expenditure for your septic system.

Do older septic tanks have filters?

A: If they have a septic tank, then the answer is no. Not only do older septic tanks not have filters, but they also tend to be more susceptible to problems such as slow draining and odors due to the lack of regular maintenance. Newer septic tanks include a special filter that cleans out solid waste from ordinary household wastewater before it goes into the drain field, which reduces the number of solids going through your system and therefore reduces root growth in your leach lines.

Septic system odor control will keep the smell down while reducing other issues that can cause odor problems. Using enzyme-based products like Bio-Clean ® from CleanerBiochemicals ® will eat up those organic odors at their source, getting rid of the problem while leaving behind a fresh, clean scent.

How often should the filter in a septic tank be cleaned?

The filter in a septic tank should be cleaned when it appears to have significant buildup on the filter grids or is preventing flow into the drain field. A clean and clear filter will allow bacteria to pass through, which helps break down waste in the tank. Depending on your situation, this might be every six months to 1 year. Discuss with your plumber for guidelines specific to your system.

How can I determine if my filter cleaner was working?

In order to determine whether or not the filter cleaner was effective, wait until after an hour has passed since you poured it into your system and inspect your filter’s grids for dirt or other debris buildups. If there is no buildup, then filter cleaning has been effective.

If you have filter grids that are clogged with dirt and other materials and filter cleaner does not seem to be working, then you may need to schedule filter replacement or installation of a whole new filter system/tank altogether because the damage caused by backed-up solids could eventually lead to draining field failure which would necessitate replacing all components of your septic system completely.

How long should I wait before pouring in the filter cleaner?

Allow an hour for filter cleaner to take effect before deciding whether or not it was successful. If your filter is significantly clearer after one hour than it was prior to using filter cleaner, then you can conclude that it was effective. You should go ahead and schedule filter cleaning with a professional if the filter cleaner does not seem to be working.

Are septic tank filters necessary?, Zazzy Home

What is filter cleaner for septic systems?

Filter cleaner is an acidic or basic compound used in septic systems to clear up and break down grease and other blockages so they can pass through the filter grids of your system into the drain field. It can also help remove dirt buildup on filter grids themselves which will prolong filter life and reduce future problems such as plugged leach lines that could lead to the failed septic tank.

Does filter cleaner work on all filters?

No, filter cleaner only works on certain types of filters. Filter cleaners are either acidic or basic compounds, each designed to work with specific materials. You may want to talk with your filter cleaner manufacturer about filter type compatibility before you try to use filter cleaner.

Always read and follow the filter cleaner manufacturer’s directions as well as the advice of a professional septic system contractor before attempting any filter cleaning. Improper filter cleaning can not only damage or clog your filter but could also cause serious problems with your leach lines, drain field, or the septic tank itself because it can result in increased root growth due to excessive solids being pushed through the system.

Additionally, suppose you have an old, neglected septic system that needs regular maintenance, including filter cleaning. In that case, you may need to consider replacing all pieces of your outdated septic system for complete filter replacement, so dirt doesn’t build up on grids faster than filter cleaners are able to pull it out and so your filter can continue to filter solid build-up from solids in the tank.

Replacement of the septic system is a good time to consider new technologies such as drain field or leach field reinjection that can help keep the dirt under control while filter cleaners break down existing buildup at the filter grids, preventing filter clogging and filter replacement for years longer than filter cleaner alone could do.

What happens if you don’t clean the septic filter?

The filter is part of the septic system in a home. It helps filter out particles from the water that flows in and out of your tank. If this filter is not cleaned, it will block the drainage, causing backups into your home.

What should I look for when I’m changing my filter?

Depending on the type of filter you have, you will need to change it out at certain intervals. For example, bentonite filters may only need to be changed once a year, while sand filters can sometimes go two years without being changed. Cleaning this filter is essential, though, because if it blocks up, then your entire system will back up into your home. If you don’t know what filter that you use, call a professional for assistance in this matter.

Can a filter cause a septic backup?

If there is too much debris in the filter, then it can cause a backup into your home. At the very least, if the filter is not cleaned, then it will block water flow, clog your filter and cause your filter to eventually need to be replaced.

How often should I change my filter?

Depending on which type of filter you use, you may need to replace or clean it once every two years or so. While certain filters may only need to be changed once a year, others can go even longer without needing to be cleaned. Cleaning your filter will help extend the life of the filter as well as help keep any backups from occurring in the future.


Meet Jeff. For the last 10 years, he's been repairing and fixing problem homes - from leaky roofs to faulty wiring. He started blogging about his experiences as a way to help others who might be struggling with home repairs, and he's become something of an expert in the field. Jeff is always up for a challenge, and he loves sharing his tips and advice with others. When it comes to home repairs, Jeff knows what he's talking about. So if you're looking for some help and guidance, be sure to check out his latest guide!

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