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What Is a Septic Tank?

All wastewater from your home drains into the septic tank. Solid waste sinks to the bottom of the tank, and buoyant fats and grease drift to the top. Bacteria break down these wastes into a liquid that pumps into the absorption field.

Be careful about flushing non-biodegradable materials such as cigarette butts, cotton buds/swabs, or menstrual hygiene products. They can clog the septic tank and absorption field. For more information, you can visit Septic Tank Armadale to proceed.

A septic tank is an underground, watertight container that collects wastewater from your home’s toilets, kitchen sinks, washing machines, and bathtubs. It is a crucial part of the septic system that serves as a first step in waste treatment and disposal and helps to protect groundwater supplies and reduce foul odors.

The concrete or plastic septic tank holds between 4,500 and 7,500 gallons. It has an inlet wastewater pipe from the house and an outlet tee that connects to a septic drain field. The outlet tee is often a PVC “T” fitting with a vertical section that extends to the level of the scum layer and a horizontal section that extends several inches below the top of the scum layer. The inlet and outlet pipes are secured to the sides of the tank with a baffle, which keeps solid waste and liquid wastewater from flowing out of the septic tank.

Wastewater from a septic tank flows into a second chamber, where it is pre-treated. This process separates waste into three layers: scum, sludge, and effluent. The scum layer consists of oils and fats that float to the top of the wastewater, while the sludge is solid waste that settles at the bottom of the tank, and the effluent is a clear fluid that floats just above the scum and sludge layers.

During the septic tank process, microorganisms in the wastewater decompose and break down the organic solids suspended in the wastewater. The oxygen aids the organisms in the wastewater in the tank, which an air compressor or blower supplies. This aeration promotes the growth of aerobic bacteria that help to break down waste and toxins.

The septic tank is also pumped out periodically to remove the indigestible sludge that builds up at the bottom of the tank. Without regular pumping, this sludge can clog the drain fields or seepage pits, which could cause the sewage to flow into nearby drinking water wells and local waterways, contaminating groundwater sources. It may also pollute surface water bodies with pathogenic bacteria and excess nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, which can cause cyanobacteria or harmful algal blooms in local waterways and use up valuable oxygen that fish and other aquatic organisms need to survive.

Your house’s wastewater plumbing drains into a septic tank, which holds the waste for adequate time so microorganisms can decompose it. The wastewater is separated into three layers: solids, sludge, and effluent. The heavier solids sink to the bottom, where bacteria partially break them down and form a sludge layer. Fats, oils, and grease float to the top, where they form a semi-solid scum layer. The liquid wastewater in the middle, called effluent, flows out of the septic tank through a pipe into an absorption field, also known as a drain or leach field.

The soil in a drain field acts as a natural filter and purifies the wastewater even more. The septic tank and absorption field should be located away from homes, playgrounds, and storage buildings. To prevent root intrusion into the pipes, trees, shrubs, and other long-rooted plants should not grow over or near the septic tank and absorption field.

Occasionally, your septic tank will need to be pumped. Pumping removes the sludge and scum from the tank to keep it working efficiently. These materials would gradually clog the outlet pipe from the septic tank and drain field without a septic tank cleaning. Your septic inspector can recommend how often your tank should be pumped.

The liquid wastewater from the septic tank enters the drain field through perforated pipes that are buried underground. It goes down through the gravel in the drain field, where the soil and grass act as a natural filter to purify it even more. The wastewater then seeps into the groundwater supply.

To minimize the amount of waste that reaches your septic system, avoid using a garbage disposal or grinder to break down solids in the kitchen and bath. Instead, use a compost bin to dispose of food scraps and other organic materials. In addition, a direct water treatment system discharges to a separate soil absorption system whenever possible to limit the flow of solid waste into your septic system.

While septic tanks are not ideal for every home, they offer several benefits. For one, they provide a more cost-effective alternative to centralized sewer systems. They also help homeowners minimize their environmental impact by reducing waste sent to landfills. Additionally, septic tanks can be used in rural areas where connecting homes to municipal sewer lines would be impractical.

Wastewater from household plumbing flows into septic tanks, where it is partially treated. Heavy solids sink to the bottom of the tank, and liquid waste, known as effluent, rises to the top. Bacteria in the tank break down solids and clarify the liquid waste. The wastewater then drains into a drain field, where bacteria continue to treat it in the soil.

The septic system includes an inlet and outlet baffle that help prevent the sludge from flowing into the drain field and clogging pipes. The baffle walls vary in number depending on the size of the septic tank. Some tanks have two baffle walls, while others have one or none at all.

Keeping your septic tank functioning properly is key to preventing costly problems. The most important thing is understanding what should and shouldn’t be flushed down your drains. For example, non-biodegradable waste like cigarette butts, cotton balls and swabs, condoms, and menstrual hygiene products can cause a septic tank to clog and overfill. Additionally, fats and oils should be poured into the garbage instead of down drains because they can lead to clogs.

Bacteria in a septic tank produce gases that must be vented to avoid a pressure build-up that could stop or reverse the wastewater flow. These gases, which odorize as hydrogen sulfide, are released through a vent in the tank’s lid, usually shaped like a mushroom.

A poorly maintained septic system may not be able to treat wastewater adequately and can overflow into the house, causing flooding and health risks. Over time, excess nutrients from the wastewater can contaminate nearby drinking water wells and waterways. This can result in excessive growth of algae, which uses up oxygen and damages fish and other organisms.

Sewage backups into your home’s drains indicate a serious problem that requires immediate attention. This can be due to a septic tank overflow, a clogged inlet baffle or effluent filter, or a blockage in the leach field plumbing.

Keeping your home water use to an average of 50 gallons daily will help prevent overflows and clogs in your septic system. Be sure to fix leaky faucets and showerheads, install low-flow toilets and dishwashers, and wash clothes and dishes on a limited schedule to avoid overloading the system.

A foul odor in the house or around the septic system is another sign of a problem. Bacteria inside the septic tank generate gas as they break down waste, but this is usually vented out of the home through vents on your roof and septic tank cover. If you notice a strong odor that smells like rotten eggs, there’s a good chance that the septic tank is full or the septic system has a ventilation issue.

If your septic tank is too close to the drain field, tree roots can penetrate the septic system and contaminate the soil with sewage. You can prevent this by ensuring the tank is properly placed, and the system is not near a root zone. You should also avoid planting trees that could grow into or over the septic tank and system. Ask a septic professional to recommend the best ways to protect your septic system from infiltrating tree roots, including installing root barriers or using copper sulfate on trees to stunt their growth.

The #1 cause of septic tank problems is a need for consistent maintenance. This includes routinely having the septic tank pumped and the septic system inspected. In addition, a simple Flush’ n Go treatment can provide a much-needed boost to the biological processes in the septic tank and throughout your entire septic system. This fast, effective treatment treats, protects, and supercharges your septic system so you can get back to life as usual!