Septic tanks work by allowing waste to separate into three layers: solids, effluent and scum (see illustration above). The solids settle to the bottom, where microorganisms decompose them. The middle layer of effluent exits the tank and travels through underground perforated pipes into the drainage field.Septic tanks work by allowing waste to separate into three layers: solids, effluent and scum (see illustration above). The solids settle to the bottom, where microorganisms decompose them. The middle layer of effluent exits the tank and travels through underground perforated pipes into the
Septic drain field – Wikipedia
- 1860 (estimated) – John Mouras designs the first septic tank and builds a prototype using concrete. He uses clay pipes to funnel wastewater from his home into the tank. 1870 (estimated) – Mouras dismantles the tank. Surprisingly, it contains mostly liquid effluent and almost no solid waste.
How were old septic systems built?
Many of the first septic tanks were concrete tanks that were formed out of wood and poured in place in the ground and covered with a concrete lid or often some type of lumber. In the 1960s, precast concrete tanks became more prevalent as the standard of practice improved.
How do old brick septic tanks work?
Septic tanks work by allowing solids to settle in the bottom of the tank and the liquid to drain out. The first septic tanks were normally brick-built, consisting of 2 or 3 chambers. As you can see from the above diagram, baffles stop the floating solids from getting through, and out of the chamber.
What were old septic tanks called?
This treatment chamber became known as the septic tank. Note that the septic tank has a baffle at each end to help keep waste in the tank. The original pit remained as the part of the system that returned “clarified” wastewater to the ground. It now became known as a drywell.
When did they start using septic tanks?
By the early 1880s, the first septic tanks arrived in the US. The idea quickly caught on, and many homes began installing septic tanks made from concrete, steel, and clay. These systems would drain out into a drainage field.
What are old septic tanks made of?
Septic tanks are made from steel, concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene. Steel tanks tend to rust, have a shorter service life, and are only found in older systems. Concrete tanks are durable, but occasionally can crack and leak wastewater. Both fiberglass and polyethylene tanks are lightweight and crack-proof.
Who made the first septic tank?
1860 (estimated) – John Mouras designs the first septic tank and builds a prototype using concrete. He uses clay pipes to funnel wastewater from his home into the tank. 1870 (estimated) – Mouras dismantles the tank.
Should old septic tank be removed?
It is important to properly abandon un-used septic tanks, cesspools, or drywells. If an old septic tank, cesspool, or drywell is simply “left alone” there may be very serious cave-in or fall-in safety hazards.
Do all septic tanks have a soakaway?
A soakaway is not usually needed with a sewage treatment plant, but it is required with a septic tank. This is because the water released by a septic tank is primary treated effluent, meaning it has only gone through one stage of treatment.
How long does a brick septic tank last?
Typically, a soakaway will last 10 to 20 years, but 60 years is possible too! While I have described the effect of not de-sludging on the bottom solids, the top crust, or floating solids can be an even bigger menace.
What were septic tanks made of in the 1990s?
In the late 1990s, tanks started using 16” square concrete plugs with a lifting bail for easier access to both sides of the tank. Today, many tanks are fiberglass or plastic. Over time, concrete can deteriorate and the lids may develop cracks or even break.
What are the 3 types of septic systems?
Types of Septic Systems
- Septic Tank.
- Conventional System.
- Chamber System.
- Drip Distribution System.
- Aerobic Treatment Unit.
- Mound Systems.
- Recirculating Sand Filter System.
- Evapotranspiration System.
When did they stop using cesspools?
EPA banned the construction of new large-capacity cesspools on April 5, 2000.
Can you have a septic tank without a leach field?
The waste from most septic tanks flows to a soakaway system or a drainage field. If your septic tank doesn’t have a drainage field or soakaway system, the waste water will instead flow through a sealed pipe and empty straight into a ditch or a local water course.
What is the difference between a cesspool and a septic system?
A septic tank allows wastewater to flow into a leach field where it undergoes a filtration process. In contrast, a cesspool is a pit lined with cement or stone which lacks the ability to filter the waste, eventually contaminating the surrounding soil.
How Does a Septic Tank Work?
Mr. Fix-It-Up-For-The-Family You may save a lot of money if you understand how a sewage treatment system works—and what can go wrong—so that you can handle your own septic system maintenance.
How does a septic tank work?
Pumping the tank on a regular basis eliminates sludge and scum, which helps to keep a septic system in good working order. It is possible for a well-designed and well built septic system to last for decades, or it might collapse in a matter of years. It is entirely up to you as long as you can answer the question of how do septic tanks function. Healthy septic systems are very inexpensive to maintain, but digging up and replacing a septic system that has completely collapsed may easily cost tens of thousands in labor and material costs.
It’s critical to understand how a septic tank works in order to maintain one.
Let’s take a look below ground and observe what happens in a properly operating septic system, shall we?
Understand that a septic system is a cafeteria for bacteria
Bacteria are responsible for the proper operation of a septic system. They decompose garbage, resulting in water that is clean enough to safely trickle down into the earth’s surface. The entire system is set up to keep bacteria healthy and busy at all times. Some of them reside in the tank, but the majority of them are found in the drain field. 1. The septic tank is the final destination for all waste. 2. The majority of the tank is filled with watery waste, referred to as “effluent.” Anaerobic bacteria begin to break down the organic matter in the effluent as soon as it enters the system.
- A layer of sludge settles to the bottom of the container.
- Scum is mostly constituted of fats, greases, and oils, among other substances.
- Grease and oils float to the surface of the water.
- (5) A filter stops the majority of particles from reaching the exit pipe.
- The effluent is discharged into the drain field.
- Effluent is allowed to leak into the surrounding gravel because of holes in the drain septic field pipe.
- The garbage is completely decomposed by aerobic bacteria found in gravel and dirt.
- Potable water seeps into the groundwater and aquifer system from the surface.
Septic Tank Clean Out: Don’t abuse the system
Septic systems that have been correctly planned and constructed require just occasional ‘pumping’ to remove the sludge and scum that has built up inside the tank.
However, if you don’t understand how a septic tank works, you may unintentionally hurt or even destroy the system.
- Drains are used to dispose of waste that decomposes slowly (or not at all). Cigarette butts, diapers, and coffee grounds are all known to cause issues. Garbage disposers, if utilized excessively, can introduce an excessive amount of solid waste into the system. Lint from synthetic fibers is emitted from washing machine lint traps. This substance is not degraded by bacteria in the tank and drain septic field. Bacteria are killed by chemicals found in the home, such as disinfecting cleansers and antibacterial soaps. The majority of systems are capable of withstanding limited usage of these goods, but the less you use them, the better. When a large amount of wastewater is produced in a short period of time, the tank is flushed away too quickly. When there is too much sludge, bacteria’s capacity to break down waste is reduced. Sludge can also overflow into the drain field if there is too much of it. Sludge or scum obstructs the flow of water via a pipe. It is possible for tree and shrub roots to obstruct and cause harm to a drain field. Compacted soil and gravel prevent wastewater from seeping into the ground and deprive germs of oxygen. Most of the time, this is caused by vehicles driving or parking on the drain field.
Get your tank pumped…
Your tank must be emptied on a regular basis by a professional. Pumping eliminates the accumulation of sludge and scum that has accumulated in the tank, which has caused the bacterial action to be slowed. If you have a large tank, it may be necessary to pump it once a year; but, depending on the size of your tank and the quantity of waste you send through the system, you may go two or three years between pumpings. Inquire with your inspector about an approximate guideline for how frequently your tank should be pumped.
…but don’t hire a pumper until you need it
Inspections and pumping should be performed on a regular basis. However, if you’re not afraid of getting your hands dirty, you may verify the sludge level yourself with a gadget known as The Sludge Judge. It ranges in price from $100 to $125 and is commonly accessible on the internet. Once you’ve verified that your tank is one-third full with sludge, you should contact a professional to come out and pump it out completely.
Install an effluent filter in your septic system
Garbage from your home accumulates into three distinct strata. The septic filter is responsible for preventing blockage of the drain field pipes.
Septic tank filter close-up
The septic tank filter is responsible for capturing suspended particles that may otherwise block the drain field pipes. Obtain an effluent filter for your tank from your contractor and place it on the outflow pipe of your tank. (It will most likely cost between $50 and $100, plus labor.) This device, which helps to prevent sediments from entering the drain field, will need to be cleaned out on a regular basis by a contractor to maintain its effectiveness.
Solution for a clogged septic system
If your septic system becomes clogged and you find yourself having to clean the filter on a regular basis, you might be tempted to simply remove the filter altogether. Hold on to it. Solids, wastewater, and scum are separated into three levels in septic tanks, which allows them to function properly (see illustration above). Solids sink to the bottom of the container, where microbes breakdown them. The scum, which is made up of trash that is lighter than water, rises to the surface. In the drainage field, the middle layer of effluent leaves the tank and goes through an underground network of perforated pipes to the drainage field.
- Keep the effluent filter in place since it is required by your state’s health law.
- Waste particles might flow through the filter and clog the perforated pipes if the filter is not used.
- Your filter, on the other hand, should not require cleaning every six months.
- A good chance is high that you’re flushing filter-clogging things down the toilet, such as grease, fat, or food scraps.
- A garbage disposal will not be able to break down food particles sufficiently to allow them to flow through the septic tank filtration system.
- Plastic items, disposable diapers, paper towels, nonbiodegradable goods, and tobacco products will clog the system if they are flushed through it.
For additional information on what should and should not be flushed down the toilet, contact your local health authority. More information on removing lint from your laundry may be found here.
Get an inspection
Following a comprehensive first check performed by an expert, regular inspections will cost less than $100 each inspection for the next year. Your professional will be able to inform you how often you should get your system inspected as well as how a septic tank functions. As straightforward as a septic system appears, determining its overall condition necessitates the services of a professional. There are a plethora of contractors who would gladly pump the sludge out of your tank, but many, in my experience, are unable to explain how a septic system works or how it should be maintained.
A certification scheme for septic contractors has been established in certain states; check with your state’s Secretary of State’s office to see whether yours is one of them.
Also, a qualified inspector will be able to tell you whether or not your tank is large enough to accommodate your household’s needs, as well as the maximum amount of water that can be passed through it in a single day.
As you learn more about how a septic tank works, your professional should be able to tell you whether or not your system will benefit from this treatment.
Alternatives to a new drain field
If an examination or a sewage backup indicate that your drain field is in need of replacement, the only option is to replace it completely. As a result, it’s important to talk with a contractor about other possibilities before proceeding with the project.
- Pipes should be cleaned. A rotating pressure washer, used by a contractor, may be used to clean out the drain septic field pipes. The cost of “jetting” the pipes is generally around $200. Chemicals should be used to clean the system. A commercial solution (not a home-made one) that enhances the quantity of oxygen in the drain field should be discussed with your contractor before installing your new system. Septic-Scrub is a product that I suggest. A normal treatment will cost between $500 and $1,000. Make the soil more pliable. The practice of “terra-lifting,” which involves pumping high-pressure air into several spots surrounding the drain field, is authorized in some regions. Some contractors use it to shatter compacted dirt around the pipes. Depending on the circumstances, this might cost less than $1,000 or as much as $4,000 or more.
Protect your drain septic field from lint
When this device is in place, it inhibits lint from entering the system, especially synthetic fibers that bacteria are unable to digest. One of these filters, which I’ve designed and termed theSeptic Protector, was invented by me. An additional filter is included in the price of around $150 plus delivery. Learn more about how to filter out laundry lint in this article.
Don’t overload the septic system
Reduce the amount of water you use. The volume of water that flows into your tank, particularly over a short period of time, can be reduced to avoid untreated waste from being flushed into your drain field. Replace outdated toilets with low-flow ones, install low-flow showerheads, and, perhaps most importantly, wash laundry throughout the week rather than just on Saturday mornings to save water.
Meet the Expert
Septic systems, according to Jim vonMeier, are the solution to America’s water deficit because they supply cleaned water to depleted aquifers, according to vonMeier. He travels the country lobbying for septic systems, giving lectures, and giving testimony. For septic system inquiries, as well as information on the operation of the septic tank, contact him by email.
How Your Septic System Works
Underground wastewater treatment facilities, known as septic systems, are often employed in rural regions where there are no centralized sewage lines. They clean wastewater from residential plumbing, such as that produced by bathrooms, kitchen drains, and laundry, by combining natural processes with well-established technology. A conventional septic system is comprised of two components: a septic tank and a drainfield, often known as a soil absorption field. It is the septic tank’s job to decompose organic matter and to remove floatable stuff (such as oils and grease) and solids from wastewater.
Alternate treatment systems rely on pumps or gravity to assist septic tank effluent in trickling through a variety of media such as sand, organic matter (e.g., peat and sawdust), constructed wetlands, or other media to remove or neutralize pollutants such as pathogens that cause disease, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other contaminants.
Prior to discharging wastewater into the environment, several alternative systems are designed to evaporate or disinfect the effluent.
Specifically, this is how a typical conventional septic system works:
- All of the water that leaves your home drains down a single main drainage pipe and into a septic tank. An underground, water-tight container, often composed of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene, serves as a septic system’s holding tank. Its function is to retain wastewater for a long enough period of time to allow particles to sink to the bottom and form sludge, while oil and grease float to the surface and produce scum. Sludge and scum are prevented from exiting the tank and moving into the drainfield region by compartments and a T-shaped outlet. After that, the liquid wastewater (effluent) exits the tank and flows into the drainfield. The drainfield is a shallow, covered hole dug in unsaturated soil that serves as a drainage system. Porous surfaces are used to release pretreated wastewater because they allow the wastewater to pass through the soil and into the groundwater. In the process of percolating through the soil, wastewater is accepted, treated, and dispersed by the soil, finally discharging into groundwater. Finally, if the drainfield becomes overburdened with too much liquid, it can flood, causing sewage to flow to the ground surface or resulting in toilet backups and sink backups. Finally, wastewater percolates into the soil, where it is naturally removed of harmful coliform bacteria, viruses, and nutrients. Coliform bacteria are a kind of bacteria that may be found in the intestines of humans and other warm-blooded animals, with humans being the most common host. As a result of human fecal contamination, it is a sign of this.
The Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority has built an animated, interactive model of how a residential septic system works, which you can view here.
Do you have a septic system?
It’s possible that you’re already aware that you have a septic system. If you are not sure, here are some tell-tale symptoms that you most likely are:
- You make use of well water. In your home, the water pipe that brings water into the house does not have a meter. In the case of a water bill or a property tax bill, you will see “$0.00 Sewer Amount Charged.” It is possible that your neighbors have a septic system
How to find your septic system
You can locate your septic system once you have confirmed that you have one by following these steps:
- Taking a look at the “as constructed” drawing of your house
- Making a visual inspection of your yard for lids and manhole covers
- Getting in touch with a septic system service provider for assistance in locating it
Failure symptoms: Mind the signs!
A bad odor is not necessarily the first indicator of a septic system that is failing to work properly. Any of the following signs should prompt you to seek expert assistance:
- Water backing up into the drains of homes and businesses
- It is especially noticeable in dry weather that the drainfield grass is bright green and spongy. The presence of standing water or muddy soil near your septic system or in your basement
- A strong stench emanating from the area surrounding the septic tank and drainfield
Evolution Of The Septic System
In the beginning, when man desired some solitude and shelter from the weather while performing his “chores,” he dug a hole in the ground, lined it with stone, brick, wood, or any other available material, and erected a “outhouse” on top of it. Gravity was responsible for transporting the garbage to its final resting spot. Eventually, if the hole became too large, the outhouse was relocated to a new place. With the creation of the flush toilet by Thomas Crapper, man was finally able to do his household responsibilities in the comfort of his own home.
- He connected the pipe to the pit that supplied the outhouse and covered the hole to keep the odor under control and to prevent the neighbor’s dogs and children from falling into the pit and drowning.
- It soon became apparent that thecesspoolcouldn’t always manage the additional strain caused by the wastewater in addition to the garbage.
- The term “septic tank” was used to describe this treatment chamber.
- Because it was the component of the system that returned “clarified” wastewater to the earth, the old pit remained in place.
- Because of extensive use, bad soil conditions, the age of the system, or any combination of the foregoing, the drywell may get blocked from time to time.
- It is common practice to build a second (or third, or fourth) drywell following a first drywell in order to expand the soil absorption area.
- In later years, as mankind grew more concerned with safeguarding the environment, it was discovered that many septic systems were installed too deeply into the earth.
- According to New Hampshire laws, any leaching element of a septic system (the part that returns water to the earth) must be at least four feet above the seasonal high-water table in order to function properly.
- Around the same time, the majority of installers made the changeover from the old-fashioned steel septic tanks to the newer, presumably more durable concrete septic tanks (shown here).
- To bring wastewater up to thesemound systems, it is now necessary to build pumps in many situations.
- The likelihood is that you have a blueprint accessible that shows you the sort of system you have and its location if you have a reasonably new system that incorporates one of these current advancements.
Using the Troubleshooting Guide that comes with the system should assist you in determining what sort of system you have and also what is wrong with it if you are experiencing a problem. Good luck, and go to work on troubleshooting.
Septic System Guide: How It Works and How to Maintain It
As soon as you flush the toilet in most metropolitan locations, the waste is pumped out to the nearest sewage treatment facility. Garbage is processed at this factory, which separates it into two types of waste: water that is clean enough to be dumped into a river and solids known as residual waste. The remaining material is either disposed of in landfill or utilized as fertilizer. Septic systems, which are used in places where there aren’t any sewage treatment plants, provide a similar function, but on a much smaller scale.
What are Septic Tanks and How Do They Work?
Septic tanks are normally composed of concrete or heavyweight plastic and have a capacity of 1000 to 2000 gallons, depending on the manufacturer. In the tank, there are two chambers that are divided by a portion of a wall. The waste from the residence is channeled into the bigger room. Solids sink to the bottom of the chamber, and liquids make their way through a partial wall into the smaller second chamber, which is located above it. Anaerobic bacteria, which are found naturally in the environment, digest the solids and convert them into water, carbon dioxide, and a tiny amount of indigestible debris.
Septic Fields Distribute Liquid Effluent
The second chamber has an output pipe via which the liquid (known as effluent) from the tank is discharged to a disposal or leach field, depending on the situation. It is drained into the earth by a network of perforated pipes or through perforated plastic structures known as galleries, which are constructed of perforated plastic. It is common practice to lay the pipe or galleries in a bed of gravel, which aids in dispersing the liquid. During the course of the effluent’s percolation through the soil, the soil absorbs remaining bacteria and particles, resulting in water that is safe to drink by the time the water reaches the aquifer deeper down.
They are not much deeper than that since a large quantity of water escapes through evaporation or is transpired by grass growing above ground.
If you have sandy soils that drain too rapidly, you may not be able to treat the wastewater properly.
Sometimes the water cannot be disposed of properly because the natural soils include a high concentration of silt or clay.
Topsoil and grass are applied to the mound, which allows more water to leave through transpiration and evaporation than would otherwise be possible.
Septic Systems Rely on Gravity, Most of the Time
The majority of septic systems rely on gravity to transfer the liquid from the home to the tank and then to the field where it will be disposed of. However, due to the slope of the land, the tank or the field may need to be higher than the house in some instances. It is necessary to have a pump, or occasionally two pumps, in order for this to operate. A grinder pump, which liquefies sediments and is installed in a pit in the basement or crawlspace of the home, will be used if the tank is higher than the house.
Sewage pumps are essentially large sump pumps that are used for heavy-duty applications.
How to Treat Your Septic System
It is not necessary to do much to keep your septic system in good working order, other than cut the grass above it and keep the drainage area free of trees and plants with roots that may block it.
How Often Do You Need to Pump A Septic Tank?
You should have a septic provider pump out the particles from your tank every two years, at the absolute least. A manhole at the surface of the tank will provide the pump operator access, but older systems may necessitate digging a hole in the tank’s top so the pumping hatch can be exposed. Unless the tank is continuously pumped, sediments will build up in it and ultimately make their way into the leach field, clogging it. You’ll know it’s occurring because untreated effluent will rise to the surface of the tank and back up into the home, causing it to overflow.
Pumping the tank on a regular basis can ensure that the leach fields continue to work eternally.
What to Do if Your Septic System Fails
Pumps in a pumped septic system will ultimately fail, just as they will in any mechanical system. Most pumps are equipped with an alarm that sounds when the effluent level in the pit is greater than it should be, indicating that the pump has failed and has to be replaced. This is a job that should be left to the professionals. Visit the following website to locate a trusted list of installation and septic system service companies in your area:
- The National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association’s Septic Locator
- The National Association of Wastewater Technicians
- And the National Association of Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association
It is rare for a homeowner to have to worry about their septic system because it is well-maintained and doesn’t cause problems. Simple maintenance, such as keeping the tank pumped and the lawn trimmed, should result in decades of trouble-free service. What kind of protection do you have in place for your home’s systems and appliances against unforeseen maintenance needs? If this is the case, you might consider purchasing a house warranty.
- Home Warranty Coverage for Roof Leaks
- Septic Warranty Coverage and Costs
- And more. Plans for protecting your mobile home’s warranty
- What Is Home Repair Insurance and How Does It Work? How to Find the Most Reasonably Priced Home Appliance Insurance
All About Septic Tanks
If you live in a rural region or even just outside of city borders, you may be one of the 20 percent of families in the United States that utilize a private septic system to dispose of household water and waste from kitchens and bathrooms rather than a municipal sewage system to dispose of this garbage.
Even though there are many other types of septic systems, the most typical is a tank and a drain (or leach) field that are positioned 50 to 100 feet away from the home and are connected by a pipe.
What is a Septic Tank?
It is an underground container that is waterproof and is used to store waste water. A minimum of a 1000-gallon capacity tank is often required for a two- or three-bedroom residence. By means of a pipe that feeds into the tank’s intake, it is connected to the house’s waste drainage system. Partially enclosed walls within the tank, known as baffles, are intended to aid in the settling of waste. New tanks are equipped with filters that prevent tiny particles from entering the drain field, even if some older tanks may not be equipped with such filters.
How Do Septic Tanks Work?
Waste is transported from the home to the tank, where it is separated into heavier solids (sludge) and lighter solids and liquids, with the heavier solids and liquids settling to the tank’s bottom and lighter solids and liquids remaining at the top. Bacterial colonies in the tank break down the sewage as it is being processed. Water from the tank drains down into a trench filled with gravel or stone, which is then covered with geo-fabric and earth, allowing the waste liquids (effluent) to flow into a drain or leach field.
What are the Most Common Types of Septic Tanks?
Steel, concrete, fiberglass, and polyethylene are the most common materials used to construct septic tanks. Stainless steel tanks have a shorter service life and are only seen in older systems because of their tendency to corrode. Concrete tanks are strong and long-lasting, however they are susceptible to cracking and leaking wastewater. Tanks made of fiberglass and polyethylene are both lightweight and crack-resistant. Polyethylene is often less costly than fiberglass in comparison to other materials.
It’s also important to distinguish between anaerobic tanks (which operate with little or no oxygen present) and aerobic tanks (which operate with oxygen present but are pumped into the effluent).
Aerobic bacteria are more successful in breaking down waste before it enters the drainfield as a result of the presence of oxygen, which allows the system to work with a smaller drain field, making it ideal for smaller lots.
There must also be an electrical circuit for the system to function properly.
How Often Should You Pump a Septic Tank?
Sludge accumulates in tanks over a lengthy period of time, and the tanks must be emptied in order for them to continue operating properly. Most waste disposal firms recommend that tanks be pumped every three to five years, while certain tanks may require pumping more frequently if they are subjected to heavy use. Tank filters and outlets can become blocked from time to time, causing the tank to overflow. It is therefore crucial to only flush toilet paper and trash down the toilet. Sterilization products, paper towels, cat litter, oil, cigarette butts, coffee grounds, and poisonous substances should not be flushed since they will interfere with the tank’s capacity to work properly.
A professional septic tank inspection is also recommended by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) once every three years for residential septic tanks. The National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association is a good place to start looking for wastewater specialists in your region (NOWRA).
How Long do Septic Tanks Last?
Most septic tanks, whether they are made of concrete, fiberglass, or plastic, should endure for at least 40 years provided they are properly examined and maintained on a regular basis. Tanks built of steel that are older than 20 years may only last for 20 years. Your system can require more regular pumping if it has been overworked, or if your household has grown and your waste output has risen, it may be time to consider replacing the tank. A 1,000-gallon anaerobic tank installation can cost between $2,100 and $5,000, according to homeadvisor.com’s cost estimator.
How Does A Septic Tank Work? Learn How Septic Systems Treat Wastewater
Many homeowners are terrified by the thought of having a septic tank because they believe it would be difficult to repair and expensive to maintain in the future. With regular maintenance, a well-constructed septic system may survive for up to forty years. Knowing the ins and outs of your septic system is essential to getting the most out of it. We’ll go over the fundamentals, such as how a septic tank works, what it is, and how to maintain it so that it lasts as long as possible.
What is a Septic Tank?
Septic systems are considered unusual and out of date by many people. As many as one in every five American houses, particularly in rural regions, is equipped with an aseptic tank. A septic tank is a large underground tank that is used to store and treat sewage. It enables homes to securely dispose of wastewater from bathrooms, showers, dishwashing, and other sources by transporting it outside of the home. Septic tanks, as well as the machinery that supports them, are placed underground. For safety reasons, they are usually put at least 10 feet away from the home when possible.
The most common materials used to construct a septic tank are concrete and plastic.
Septic tanks are available in a variety of sizes to accommodate different sized residences.
What is a Septic Tank Used For?
The water that runs from your residence is frequently polluted, making it dangerous to drink or handle in any way. Bathing, cleaning dishes, and doing laundry all contribute to the production of polluted water. Septic tanks treat wastewater that goes through the system by the use of natural and mechanical processes, respectively. It doesn’t matter where it emanates from within the house, either. In order to restore water to the earth, it must first be cleaned of undesired particles and organic materials.
Septic systems are used to treat wastewater when there are no public sewer systems accessible.
How Does a Septic Tank Work?
Septic tanks function by allowing wastewater to rest and settle, which is a natural process. In a septic system, solid particles and sediment settle to the bottom, where they may be separated from the water. Bacteria eat away at the sludge over time, transforming it into more manageable components for human use. This also causes scum to be released, such as fats, greases, and oil. Scum rises to the surface of the water and collects there. Following the filtration of the sediments, the filtered liquid wastewater, also known as “effluent,” is discharged via perforated pipes.
These outlet pipes transport the water to a place known as the drainfield or leach field, depending on the region.
Finally, the wastewater percolates into our soil, where it is able to free itself of any harmful substances. This contains diseases that are potentially hazardous, such as coliform bacteria. In human excrement, coliform bacteria that are harmful to the body can be discovered.
Septic Tank Design
Tanks are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. Depending on the number of bedrooms, soil condition, lot size, and other considerations, a household will choose one over the other. A septic system may be classified into several categories, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The most prevalent of them are as follows:
- The term “standard septic tank” refers to a single or double-chamber tank that is located underground. a conventional septic system is a complete underground water treatment system in which the septic tank discharges onto a soil or gravel drainfield
- And Septic tank system that does not require excavation and instead makes use of linked subsurface chambers rather than an open drainfield. Drip Distribution System: A shallow septic system that uses drip tubing to disseminate sewage gently
- These devices operate similarly to a tiny sewage treatment plant, using oxygen to stimulate naturally occurring bacterial activity for the purpose of treatment. When it is impossible to bury a drainfield, such as in places with shallow soil or high groundwater, a mound septic system is used to properly route wastewater flow through elevated trenches. Pump-Chamber-Sand Filter System: This system circulates effluent from the tank to the pump chamber, where it percolates through the sand filter. Depending on the use, it can be put above or below ground. In the absence of a filter, all waste particles will be able to pass through easily and clog your pipes
- Method of Evapotranspiration: Rather than filtering wastewater through the soil, this system traps it in the drainfield using a watertight membrane, allowing it to evaporate. Constructed Wetland System: This environmentally friendly system mimics natural water treatment processes by directing wastewater to a wetland cell rather than a drainfield for screening and treatment. The use of a community septic system might occur when many home sites are near together and the septic tanks flow into a common drainfield.
Inside a Septic Tank
The most common configuration consists of a septic tank, a distribution box, a drain field, and a network of perforated pipes that connects the first and second tanks. There is a single main drainage pipe, also known as an input pipe, that connects the septic tank and the home. The water waste from your home passes through it and into the septic tank, where solid and liquid waste are separated from the liquid waste and disposed of separately. Nowadays, the majority of septic tanks are divided into two parts.
Both compartments are waterproof and are separated by a sturdy wall that prevents water from entering.
A T-shaped baffle, similar to the inlet and exit pipes, is used to prevent particles from entering.
The Septic System Treatment Process
When wastewater enters a treatment plant through an intake pipe, grease and oil float to the top of the water column, while solid waste and silt sink to the bottom. This is done in order to keep them out of the wastewater once it reaches the drainfield. Solids can clog the perforated pipes in the area, and oils can cause harm to the leached soil as they pass through. There is a healthy population of anaerobic bacteria in the soil underneath the septic tank, and these bacteria feed on and digest the organic waste.
- Sludge and scum are prevented from exiting the septic tank and entering the drainfield by an outlet baffle at the other end of the system.
- The drainfield is a shallow area of open ground near the home that filters untreated wastewater via rocks, mud, and sand in order to eliminate contaminants in a natural and environmentally friendly manner.
- A good septic system is one that is hidden underneath and not visible.
- These access points are normally protected by a plastic cap with a diameter of approximately 4″.
What Does a Septic Tank Look Like?
From the exterior, an underground septic tank is typically characterized by the appearance of a huge metal or plastic box. These septic systems may typically be distinguished by the characteristic inspection pipes located on top of the box, which are often covered with green covers. The majority of tanks are equipped with one or two inspection pipes as well as bigger manhole covers for pumping. A vent pipe is used to expel the gases that have accumulated. Above-ground septic tanks have a distinctive appearance that distinguishes them from their underground counterparts.
Aside from that, they are often constructed of fiberglass, polymers, or some other weather-resistant material.
A network of tiny, perforated pipes connected to the outflow and reaching into the drainfield’s soil is also present.
The size of this region is determined by the amount of water that your septic tank must handle. This will be determined by your daily water use as well as the number of bedrooms in your home.
What Does a Septic Tank Do?
Designed to remove sediments and pollutants from water, septic tanks are often used in residential and commercial settings. Understanding what a septic tank accomplishes will help you better understand how to care for your septic system in the future. The majority of conventional septic tank systems consist of a septic tank, which is often a large, hidden rectangular or cylindrical vessel composed of cement, fiberglass, or polyethylene material. It is not uncommon for septic systems built before 1975 to have a single compartment and for those built after 1975 to have many compartments, according to industry standards.
Sewage from all plumbing connections is directed toward the septic tank, where heavy masses fall to the lowest point and bacterial activity produces digested slime and fumes as a result of the digestion process.
Septic Tank Clean Out: Don’t Abuse the System
It is necessary to clean your septic system on a regular basis in order to keep it in good working order. If you don’t, your drains may become blocked, you may notice smells, and your drain field may become backed up with water. Septic tank pumping should only be required every two to three years in a well functioning system. When you have your tank pumped, it eliminates sediments, which enhances the flow and efficiency of the wastewater treatment process overall. If you don’t know what you’re doing when performing system maintenance, it’s possible to cause damage to the system.
This will assist you in ensuring that your septic tank is working at peak performance and will prevent toxins from accumulating in the system over time.
Don’t Use Additives
Inadvertently adding chemical and biological additives is one of the most typical maintenance blunders. There are several flushable pills on the market that claim to improve the performance of your septic system by speeding up the breakdown processing and adding extra bacteria. With the help of these substances, you will be able to cope with septic system failure. These have the potential to disrupt the delicate natural equilibrium in your tank.
Don’t Flush the System
When septic systems are flushed out too quickly, it can have an adverse effect on the bacteria that live there. It can also cause scum and sediments to be disturbed, increasing the likelihood that they will clog up system components.
Take Care of the Drainfield
During normal septic tank maintenance, it’s not only the tank that has to be taken into consideration; the drainfield is just as vital. It is not recommended that you construct a structure or plant anything with deep roots in the region. Avoid driving on the drainfield as much as possible since this might compress the soil and cause the effluent flow to become obstructed.
Don’t Overload the Septic System
When using a septic system, there are several things that should not be flushed down the drain.
Organic waste and septic-safe tissue are the two types of waste that septic tanks can manage. The following are examples of things that might overflow your septic system:
- Toilet paper
- Diapers and sanitary goods
- Disposable wipes
- Paint and chemicals
- Cat litter
- Coffee grinds
- Fabric and apparel.
It’s always a good idea to double-check that anything is septic-safe before flushing it down the toilet. Though most toilet paper is septic safe, biodegradable toilet paper is preferred in order to avoid disturbing the important microorganisms. A clogged toilet or sewage forcing its way up through the leach field are all possible consequences of overburdening your system.
Hire the Best Plumbing Service and Get Your Waste Water TreatmentSystemInspection Done Today!
Septic tank inspections should be performed every two to three years, at the absolute least. This will be done by a professional during normal pumping. If, on the other hand, you detect indicators that your septic system is malfunctioning, you should schedule an inspection as soon as possible. A faulty system might result in untreated garbage being transported to locations where it does not belong. While it’s vital to understand how a septic tank works, homeowners should always seek expert assistance if they have any problems with their system.
A basic home inspection will often only give the septic tank a cursory scan, so it’s advisable to contact a professional to examine the system thoroughly before making a decision on whether or not to purchase a home.
- Septic tank inspection, Septic tank maintenance, Septic tank installation, Septic tank repair, and Septic tank pumping are all services that are available.
From our offices to your home, we always put you front and foremost in all we do. Call now to schedule a free septic check with one of our septic contractors.
The 5 Biggest Questions Home Buyers Have About Septic Systems
Image courtesy of istockphoto.com The word “septic system” in a home ad is well-known for scaring away potential purchasers from the property. Some homebuyers may consider the system to be obsolete, expensive to fix, or difficult to keep up to date. Septic systems, on the other hand, do not have to be frightening. A septic tank and its accompanying parts may easily endure for decades if they have a good maintenance record and are properly inspected on a regular basis. Don’t instantly rule out an attractive property because it has this sort of system buried out back if you’re contemplating booking a viewing appointment.
Continue reading to learn more about septic systems, including how they function, common misunderstandings about them, how to maintain them, how to locate a septic system inspector, and indicators that a septic system is in danger of collapsing.
1. How do septic systems work?
Water that has been filtered by a septic system is called effluent. There are several components, including a big septic tank, distribution box, baffles, and a drainfield, all of which are buried below ground. Septic fields and leach fields are other names for the drainfield, which is a network of perforated pipes that extends out from the septic tank and allows filtered wastewater to be released back into the environment through the soil. The wastewater from your home, including that from toilets, sinks, showers, and appliances, is channeled out of the house and into the tank through the pipes.
The accumulation of particles over time offers a luxury home for helpful anaerobic bacteria, which work to break down the materials and release the grease, oil, and fats that have accumulated on the surface (the scum).
The residual wastewater (also known as effluent) runs via outlet pipes into a disposal bed or drainfield, where it is slowly and securely filtered by the earth, allowing it to be recycled. Image courtesy of istockphoto.com
2. What are common misconceptions about septic systems?
A lot of people have misconceptions (and even falsehoods) regarding septic systems, and this may make it difficult to decide whether or not to purchase a property that has one. Take a moment to put some popular myths and misconceptions in their proper perspective.
- A septic system is no longer used by most people. Actually, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), around 20% of homes are equipped with a septic system, or one in every five dwellings. Septic systems fail on a regular basis. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a septic system may survive up to 40 years—and possibly even longer—with proper maintenance. Septic systems have a foul odor. It is unlikely that an improperly managed septic system will release any unpleasant smells. An odor emanating from drains or the septic system itself indicates that there is a problem. A septic system has the potential to pollute a well. Installed correctly and maintained on a regular basis, a system will not cause contamination of a well on the property. To guarantee proper separation of drinking water and wastewater, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that the system be installed at least 50 feet away from a well. The septic system will be examined during a house inspection. A house inspection is often focused on the systems within the home, and as a result, it seldom includes more than a cursory examination of the septic system. Look for a professional that understands the workings of a septic system and how to do a comprehensive inspection in order to obtain a complete picture.
3. How do you maintain a septic system?
Septic systems require regular care and maintenance in order to function properly. The good news is that keeping a septic system in excellent working order is rather straightforward. Here’s how to keep it in proper functioning order.
- Take cautious with the information you submit over the system. Pouring anything down the toilet should be avoided at all costs. This includes things like paint and chemicals, kitty litter, coffee grinds, disposable wipes, diapers, and feminine products. These are all potential clog-makers in the septic system. It is best not to use any additives in the system. Additives may be classified into two categories, according to the National Small Flows Clearinghouse, which are chemical and biological. Despite the fact that these solutions are touted to accomplish anything from speed solids breakdown to enhance the condition of the drainfield, they typically cause havoc on the bacteria that are intended to keep the system running smoothly. Keep vehicles away from drainfields and never park or drive over them, since this might cause damage to the pipes. When planting shrubs or trees near a drainfield, use caution to avoid damaging the plants. The roots of some water-loving plants, such as weeping willows, can find their way into the drainfield, outlet pipes, or even the septic tank system itself. According to the Virginia Cooperative Extension, a fair rule of thumb is: if a tree will grow to be 25 feet tall, it should be kept at least 25 feet away from the drainfield
- If a tree will grow to be 25 feet tall, it should be kept at least 25 feet away from the drainfield
- Get your septic tank pumped out by a professional septic provider on average every two or three years. An further visual inspection of the component is often performed at the same time by a qualified specialist
- Call a specialist as soon as you see any signs of impending failure (as indicated below)! The sooner you contact, the less expensive a repair may be
Image courtesy of istockphoto.com
4. How do you find the best septic system inspector?
Once an offer on a home is made, the deal is nearly always subject on the outcome of a thorough inspection of the property, which includes an examination of the septic system. Important to remember is that what is stated on a seller’s disclosure form is not a substitute for a thorough inspection of the property being offered for sale. The average homeowner does not have the necessary knowledge or equipment to conduct a thorough inspection of the system. If there are concealed issues, it is possible that the homeowner will not be aware of them.
- One of the most common types of house inspection is a general home inspection, which evaluates the structure of the home, systems within it (such as plumbing and electricity), roof condition, and maybe some of the external features.
- As a result, always seek the services of a septic system specialist for an inspection.
- Your neighbors and real estate agent may be able to provide you with a few decent leads.
- To begin, contact each possible inspector and ask them about their approach to the task; for example, some may use cameras to evaluate the distribution box and drainfield, while others may dig to complete their inspection.
- Once the inspection has begun, the expert will search for pumping and maintenance records, examine for signs of leakage or backup, measure the levels of sludge and scum, and determine the age of the tank, among other things.
- Depending on whether or not the property includes extensions that were built after the septic tank was originally installed, an inspector may give recommendations to make the residence more sanitary.
For example, a two-bedroom home will require a tank of a different capacity than a three-bedroom home will. Image courtesy of istockphoto.com
5. What are the signs that a septic system needs to be replaced?
It is critical to notice the warning symptoms of impending failure before they manifest themselves. For the most part, failure of a septic system goes unnoticed at first. Keeping an eye out for warning indicators will help you arrange a replacement before something goes wrong.
- Gurgling noises coming from outside sewers
- Interior drains in bathtubs and sinks that are slow to drain
- Odors emanate from the sewage treatment plant, drainfield or inside drains of the house. There are wet places visible over the drainfield. Water is backing up into the home from the sewer line. Toilets are flushing more slowly
- This is a problem. A sudden and dramatic increase in the amount of lush and full vegetation over the drainfield might indicate a probable obstruction or break in the exit pipes outside.
Image courtesy of istockphoto.com
Septic systems, which are used in around 20% of homes in the United States, are designed to remove effluent from a residence. While septic systems may need a bit more maintenance than utilizing a public sewage system, they are not nearly as difficult to maintain as their reputation would have you believe. A well-maintained septic system may survive up to 40 years if it is inspected on a regular basis and kept on the lookout for indicators of potential problems. It is critical for homebuyers contemplating a property with a septic system to have the system inspected by a professional before making an offer.
FAQs About Septic Tanks and Septic Systems
When it comes to septic systems, there is a lot to understand. Even after reviewing the information provided above, you may still have concerns regarding how septic systems operate and how to properly manage them. Answers to some frequently asked questions concerning septic systems are provided here.
Q: How does a septic tank work?
When sewage is discharged into a septic tank, the solid stuff descends to the bottom, where it is colonized by helpful anaerobic bacteria, which work to break down the solids and liberate the lipids contained within them. The byproducts rise to the surface of the tank and are separated by a series of baffles.
Q: What are the three types of septic systems?
Traditional septic systems are classified into three types: chamber septic systems, drip distribution systems, and septic systems with chambers. In most cases, conventional systems are employed in residential buildings. Typically, a chamber system is used in high water table settings due to the fact that it is comprised of a succession of closed compartments. Drip systems are often less difficult to install, but they require more upkeep.
Q: How many years does a septic system last on average?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a well managed septic system may survive for 40 years. It is essential that you get the septic system evaluated before to purchasing a property so that you can get an estimate of how long the septic system is projected to operate.
Q: What is the alternative to a septic tank?
An aerobic treatment system, composting waste, and a drip system are all options for replacing a septic tank in a residential setting.
Q: What chemicals are bad for a septic tank?
The use of chemicals such as oil-based paint, paint thinners, lubricants, gasoline, weed killers, foaming cleansers, and chlorine-based cleaners can cause damage to your septic tank. They have the potential to pollute the surrounding environment as well as destroy the bacteria that are necessary for waste breakdown inside the septic tank, making it difficult or impossible for matter to degrade. Septic systems are well-understood by professionals. Link up with reputable professionals in your region and obtain free, no-obligation quotations for your project.+