Septic tanks are secure systems for storing and disposing of household wastewater. They are commonly used in rural areas that do not have access to a sewage system.
A septic tank is an underground, watertight container made of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene. Compartments and a T-shaped outlet prevent solids (fecal sludge) and oil/greases from leaving the tank and traveling into the drain field area. Visit Website to learn more.
A septic tank is a buried, watertight container that receives all wastewater from household toilets and appliances. As wastewater exits your home through a toilet or other drains, it travels through a main drainage pipe that leads to the septic tank. From there, it separates into three layers: sludge, scum, and effluent. The sludge and scum collect at the bottom of the septic tank while the liquid wastewater (known as effluent) flows through an outlet into a septic system’s drainfield.
The septic tank is an important part of a home’s waste management system because it helps protect drinking water wells and local waterways from contamination by bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens that could cause illness in humans and animals. Wastewater also carries excessive nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, which can pollute soil, waterways, and lakes by encouraging the growth of algae that uses up oxygen in the water, harming fish and other organisms.
Septic tanks are popular solutions for homeowners who live in rural areas that do not connect to a municipal sewer network. They are often made of concrete or fiberglass and can be prefabricated in some cases. While septic systems are not perfect, they provide effective wastewater treatment and disposal. They reduce the risk of contaminating soil, freshwater sources, and bodies of water through bacterial decomposition, while reducing the amount of solid waste that must be hauled away and burned.
Once the wastewater reaches the septic tank, it goes through a decantation and sedimentation process that eliminates most of the organic material. This water then enters a second chamber where it’s treated by microorganisms on and near the soil in a natural filtration process. The resulting purified effluent is then pumped into a drainfield or another special type of soil absorption field for further treatment and re-use in the environment.
If you have a septic tank, it’s important to schedule regular septic tank pumping to keep it working properly. A septic tank that is not pumped out regularly can overflow, leading to sewage backups and other problems. You can hire a professional to empty your septic tank, which they do by attaching a large truck to the septic tank with a giant suction hose. The septic tank contents are then transported to a local sewage treatment plant for further treatment.
Wastewater from toilets, showers, bathtubs, sinks, laundry machines and dishwashers flows into your septic tank. The septic tank holds the wastewater for long enough for solid waste particles to separate through settling and flotation. Heavy solid materials sink to the bottom of the tank forming sludge, while fats, oils and grease float to the top of the wastewater forming a scum layer. Anaerobic bacteria inside the septic tank feed on organic wastewater pollutants and break them down into liquid water. This liquid water, also called effluent, exits the septic tank through an outlet pipe and enters your septic system drain field.
The drain field, also known as the absorption field or leach field, is a series of underground trenches and distribution pipes that biologically treat wastewater. The effluent from the septic tank seeps into the soil, where microorganisms digest the organic materials. This process removes harmful substances from the sewage, and the dissolved oxygen is released back into the environment.
Because the drain field can become waterlogged during rainfall, it is important to limit your household water usage. This helps reduce the amount of water entering your septic tank and helps prevent your septic system from needing frequent pumping. Some easy ways to lower your water usage include installing efficient showerheads and faucets, running only one load of laundry per day and limiting how often you wash dishes or take baths.
Another way to help with septic tank efficiency is to use septic system additives. There are many products on the market that claim to break down organic compounds and prevent sludge and scum layers from building up in your tank. However, most of these products are not proven, and they may cause septic systems to function improperly.
To keep septic tanks from needing to be pumped out as frequently, it is recommended that you have your septic tank regularly inspected and pumped by a professional. These professionals have special equipment that measures the septic tank layers, inspects the plumbing and provides regular maintenance. They will advise you on what types of products and how much to use to keep your septic tank functioning properly.
The bacteria that digest waste in your septic tank are anaerobic, meaning they don’t require oxygen from the air to function. As these bacteria work, they produce a gas known as hydrogen sulfide. It has a strong, unpleasant odor, similar to that of rotten eggs. Because of this, it’s important that the septic tank and absorption field have adequate ventilation.
Wastewater from your toilets (known as blackwater) and showers, bathtubs, sinks, dishwasher and washing machines (called greywater) run through a main drainage pipe that goes to your septic tank. Solid waste particles sink to the bottom of the septic tank to form sludge, while fats, oils and greases float to the top of the wastewater, creating a layer known as scum. Anaerobic bacteria in the septic tank eat the sludge and scum, breaking them down into liquids that flow to your septic drain field.
Because a septic tank is a large container that holds a significant amount of water and waste, there is a lot of pressure built up inside. That’s why it needs to be vented, or the pressurized gas would build up and clog your plumbing system or cause the septic tank to overflow.
The septic tank is typically vented through a plumbing vent stack that’s connected to all the home’s drainpipes. This vent stack is often located on the roof of the home and looks like a small, capped chimney vent. A septic tank also can be vented through an effluent filter that’s installed in the tank’s outlet baffle. This cylindrical device protects your septic tank’s drain field by trapping suspended solids that might clog the drain field.
Homes and buildings in wooded areas may find that the trees around their septic tanks prevent effective dispersal of venting gases. This can be resolved by pruning nearby trees to open up “ventilation paths” for the septic tank and drain field. It’s also a good idea to add 8 to 12 inches of mulch, such as straw or pine bark, over and around the septic tank, pipes and drain field. This helps prevent the soil from becoming compacted and can extend the life of your septic tank and absorption field.
The septic tank is a watertight, buried container where household sewage is treated and stored. It connects to a drain field (also known as an absorption or leach field) via a pipe, where the pre-treated wastewater seeps into the ground. A septic system is an ideal choice for homes located outside of city limits that can’t rely on municipal sewage services. However, living with a septic system comes with extra responsibilities and self-reliance. Septic tanks require maintenance and regular inspections to keep functioning properly.
A septic tank needs to be pumped out every three to five years, depending on how many people live in the house. It’s important to keep track of when your tank was pumped last, as an overfilled tank can cause waste to back up into the house and possibly contaminate surrounding groundwater. A full septic tank also causes foul odors in the backyard. Signs that the tank is getting full include gurgling toilets, slow-to-open drains, and standing water or a wet spot in the yard.
All the household wastewater that goes down your toilets, sinks and showers ends up in your septic system. This includes flushing items that don’t belong in your drains like bones, paper towels, diapers, tampons, chemical cleaners or paints, or oily cooking grease. This can clog your drains, harm beneficial bacteria, and stress the septic system.
Keeping up with regular septic tank maintenance and ensuring your drain field stays clear can help extend the lifespan of your septic system. You can minimize the amount of wastewater that enters your septic system by avoiding using chemical drain openers, only running one shower at a time and washing clothes over a few days rather than back-to-back, and installing low-flow toilets and efficient shower heads.
Another way to reduce the amount of wastewater that enters your sewage system is to keep trees and shrubs away from the drainfield area, as roots can invade the pipes and damage your septic system. In addition, it’s best to not drive or park on the drainfield as this can compact the soil around the pipes and limit their ability to absorb wastewater.