A septic tank will take the wastewater from your property’s toilets, sinks, baths and showers, dishwashers and washing machines. The waste water leaves your property through the drainage pipes to your septic tank, and will usually pass through a number of inspection chambers or manholes.
- All water runs out of your house from one main drainage pipe into a septic tank. The septic tank is a buried, water-tight container usually made of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene. Its job is to hold the wastewater long enough to allow solids to settle down to the bottom forming sludge, while the oil and grease floats to the top as scum.
Should bath water go into septic tank?
In MOST household septic systems, yes. Probably 98%+ of septic systems receive all of the waste water from the house – tub, shower, sinks, washing machine, dishwasher, etc.
Does washing machine water go into septic tank?
Wastewater from your washing machine and dishwasher may either go to your septic tank and/or cesspool or to a separate disposal system called a dry well. This wastewater can be problematic due to its high concentrations of soaps and detergents, grease and paper.
What are the components of a septic system?
A typical septic system has four main components: a pipe from the home, a septic tank, a drainfield, and the soil.
Does hair break down in a septic tank?
Why Hair is a Such a Problem It’s composed of tough strands of proteins similar to those in your fingernails, and it’s not easily broken down by bacteria. Even if it doesn’t for years in your septic tank, it’ll almost certainly last for longer than the 24-48 hours that it sits in your septic tank.
What are the do’s and don’ts of a septic tank?
DON’T flush material that will not easily decompose, such as hair, diapers, cigarette butts, matches, or feminine hygiene products. DO conserve water to avoid overloading the system. They kill the bacteria needed to decompose wastes in the septic tank and drain field. DO use substitutes for household hazardous waste.
Are long showers bad for septic systems?
Washing frequent, small loads of laundry or taking exceptionally long showers every day is all it takes to overload your septic system with too much water. The primary treatment tank needs time to break up solids before partly-treated water can enter the drain field.
How many loads of laundry can I do a day with a septic tank?
Spread Out Laundry Loads These use less water which puts less stress on your septic system. Regardless of the type of appliance you have, you should still spread out your loads. Instead of doing several loads in one day, consider doing 1 load per day or space out 2 loads if you must do more in a single day.
What are the five main parts to a septic system?
Septic Components: Septic Tank
- Tank Components:
- Inlet Sanitary “T” = All septic tanks have an opening for the waste to enter the tank and another one for the waste to exit the tank.
- Outlet Sanitary “T”
- Effluent Filter.
- Scum Layer.
- Liquid Effluent Layer.
- Sludge Layer.
- Tank Maintenance.
What are the three parts to a septic system?
A typical septic system. The septic system consists of three components (Figure 1): the tank, the drain lines or discharge lines, and the soil treatment area (sometimes called a drainfield or leach field ).
Can heavy rain affect septic tank?
It is common to have a septic back up after or even during a heavy rain. Significant rainfall can quickly flood the ground around the soil absorption area (drainfield) leaving it saturated, making it impossible for water to flow out of your septic system.
Can toilet paper go into septic tank?
Toilet Paper – should be single-ply toilet paper because it breaks down in the septic system faster and better than higher ply count toilet paper. Use toilet paper labeled biodegradable, recycled or septic-safe. Most all-natural cleaners are septic safe.
Are dead animals good for septic tanks?
This is false. Rotting meat just adds unnecessary and foreign bacteria to your septic tank. At best, this will do nothing. At worst, bones and fur from a dead animal will clog up your system.
What will ruin a septic system?
Any paper products like tissues, paper towels, tampons, or sanitary products, even some heavier toilet paper, will clog your system if you flush enough of it. Wet wipes are another product that you should never flush into a septic system.
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.
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
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? After that, I’ll explain why things go wrong and offer you some tips on how to keep your system in peak operating condition.
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.
- 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.
You may be able to boost the performance of your system by using a product such as RID-X to introduce bacteria into the system. 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.
Septic Tank Everything that goes down any of the drains in the house
|Septic TankEverything that goes down any of the drains in the house (toilets, showers, sinks, laundry machines) travels first to the septic tank. The septic tank is a large-volume, watertight tank which provides initial treatment of the household wastewater by intercepting solids and settleable organic matterbefore disposal of the wastewater (effluent) to the drainfield.Function of the Septic TankHow Long Liquids Must Remain In TankSolids StorageAnaerobic DecompositionFlow Into And Out Of The TankEffluent FilterFlow BufferingMicrobes in Septic Tanks Digest, Dissolve, and Gasify Complex Organic Wastes.FUNCTION OF THE SEPTIC TANK While relatively simple in construction and operation, the septic tank provides a number of important functions through a complex interaction of physical and biological processes. The essential functions of the septic tank are to: receive all wastewater from the house separate solids from the wastewater flow cause reduction and decomposition of accumulated solids provide storage for the separated solids (sludge and scum) pass the clarified wastewater (effluent) out to the drain field for final treatment and disposal.Primary TreatmentAs stated, the main function of the septic tank is to remove solids from thewastewater and provide a clarified effluent for disposal to the drain field.The septic tank provides a relatively quiescent body of water where thewastewater is retained long enough to let the solids separate by bothsettling and flotation. This process is often called primary treatment andresults in three products: scum, sludge, and effluent.Scum: Substances lighter than water (oil, grease, fats) float to the top,where they form a scum layer. This scum layer floats on top of the watersurface in the tank. Aerobic bacteria work at digesting floating solids.Sludge: The “sinkable” solids (soil, grit, bones, unconsumed food particles)settle to the bottom of the tank and form a sludge layer. The sludge isdenser than water and fluid in nature, so it forms a flat layer along thetank bottom. Underwater anaerobic bacteria consume organic materials in thesludge, giving off gases in the process and then, as they die off, becomepart of the sludge.Effluent: Effluent is the clarified wastewater left over after the scum hasfloated to the top and the sludge has settled to the bottom. It is theclarified liquid between scum and sludge. It flows through the septic tankoutlet into the drain field.Back to listingsHOW LONG LIQUIDS MUST REMAIN IN TANK Effective volume: The floating scum layer on top and the sludge layer on thebottom take up a certain amount of the total volume in the tank. Theeffective volume is the liquid volume in the clear space between the scumand sludge layers. This is where the active solids separation occurs as thewastewater sits in the tank.Retention time: In order for adequate separation of solids to occur, thewastewater needs to sit long enough in the quiescent conditions of the tank.The time the water spends in the tank, on its way from inlet to outlet, isknown as the retention time. The retention time is a function of theeffective volume and the daily household wastewater flow rate:Retention Time (days) = Effective Volume (gallons)/Flow Rate (gallons per day)A common design rule is for a tank to provide a minimum retention time ofat least 24 hours, during which one-half to two-thirds of the tank volume istaken up by sludge and scum storage. Note that this is a minimum retentiontime, under conditions with a lot of accumulated solids in the tank. Underordinary conditions (i.e., with routine maintenance pumping) a tank shouldbe able to provide two to three days of retention time.As sludge and scum accumulate and take up more volume in the tank, theeffective volume is gradually reduced, which results in a reduced retentiontime. If this process continues unchecked-if the accumulated solids are notcleaned out (pumped) often enough-wastewater will not spend enough time inthe tank for adequate separation of solids, and solids may flow out of thetank with the effluent into the drain field. This can result in clogged pipesand gravel in the drain field, one of the most common causes of septic systemfailure.Back to listingsSOLIDS STORAGE In order to avoid frequent removal of accumulated solids, the septic tank is(hopefully) designed with ample volume so that sludge and scum can be storedin the tank for an extended period of time. A general design rule is thatone-half to two-thirds of the tank volume is reserved for sludge and scumaccumulation. A properly designed and used septic system should have thecapacity to store solids for about five years or more. However, the rate ofsolids accumulation varies greatly from one household to another, and actualstorage time can only be determined by routine septic tank inspections.Back to listingsANAEROBIC DECOMPOSITION While fresh solids are continually added to the scum and sludge layers,anaerobic bacteria (bacteria that live without oxygen) consume the organicmaterial in the solids. The by-products of this decomposition are solublecompounds, which are carried away in the liquid effluent, and various gases,which are vented out of the tank via the inlet pipe that ties into the houseplumbing air vent system.Anaerobic decomposition results in a slow reduction of the volume ofaccumulated solids in the septic tank. This occurs primarily in the sludgelayer but also, to a lesser degree, in the scum layer. The volume of thesludge layer is also reduced by compaction of the older, underlyingsludge. While a certain amount of volume reduction occurs over time, sludgeand scum layers gradually build up in the tank and eventually must be pumpedout.Back to listingsFLOW INTO AND OUT OF THE TANK The inlet and outlet ports of the tank are generally equipped with devicessuch as baffles, concrete tees, or in more recent years, sanitary tees(T-shaped pipes with one short and one long leg).InletsThe inlet device dissipates the energy of the incoming flow and deflects itdownwards. The vertical leg of the tee extends below the liquid surface wellinto the clear space below the scum layer. This prevents disturbance of thefloating scum layer and reduces disruptive turbulence caused by incomingflows. The inlet device also is supposed to prevent short-circuiting offlows across the water surface directly to the outlet.The upper leg of the inlet should extend well above the liquid surface inorder to prevent floating scum from backing up into, and possibly plugging,the main inlet pipe. The open top of the inlet tee allows venting of gasesout of the tank through the inlet pipe and fresh air vents of the householdplumbing.OutletsThe outlet device is designed to retain the scum layer within the tank. Asanitary tee can be used with the lower leg extending below the scum layer.The elevation of the outlet port should be 2 to 3 inches below the elevationof the inlet port. This prevents backwater and stranding of solids in themain inlet pipe during momentary rises in the tank liquid level caused bysurges of incoming wastewater.Typical inlet/outlet teesGas Deflection BaffleGases are produced by the natural digestion of sludge at the bottom of thetank, and particles of sludge can be carried upward by these rising gases.Some tanks have a gas deflection baffle, which prevents gas bubbles (towhich solid particles often adhere) from leaving the tank by deflecting themaway from the outlet and preventing them from entering the drain field.Back to listingsTHE EFFLUENT FILTER In newer systems, there is often an effluent filter: one of the significantimprovements in septic tank design in decades. They range from 4 to 18inches in diameter. As we have described, the most serious problem withseptic systems is the migration of solids, grease, or oil into thedrain field, and the filter is effective in preventing this.A filter restricts and limits passage of suspended solids into the effluent.Solids in a filtered system’s effluent discharge are significantly less thanthose produced in a non-screened system.Back to listingsFLOW BUFFERING The septic tank also provides a buffering of flows between the house and thedrain field. Large surges from the household, such as toilet flushing orwashing machine drainage, are dampened by the septic tank so that the flowsleaving the tank and entering the drain field are at substantially lower flowrates and extend over a longer period of time than the incoming surges.Back to listingsMICROBES IN SEPTIC TANKS DIGEST, DISSOLVE, AND GASIFY COMPLEX ORGANIC WASTES In 1907, W. P. Dunbar conducted tests on the decomposition of vegetable andanimal matter in septic tanks. He stated, “The author has investigated thesubject by suspending in septic tanks a large number of solid organicsubstances, such as cooked vegetables, cabbages, turnips, potatoes, peas,beans, bread, various forms of cellulose, flesh in the form of dead bodiesof animals, skinned and unskinned, various kinds of fat, bones, cartilage,etc., and has shown that many of these substances are almost completelydissolved in from three to four weeks. They first presented a swollenappearance, and increased in weight. The turnips had holes on the surface,which gradually became deeper. The edges of the cabbage leaves looked asthough they had been bitten, and similar signs of decomposition were visiblein the case of other substances. Of the skinned animals, the skeleton aloneremained after a short time; with the unskinned animals the process lastedrather longer. At this stage I will only point out that the experiments wereso arranged that no portion of the substances could be washed away; theirdisappearance was therefore due to solution and gasification.”Back to listings|
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.+
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.
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.
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