All drains in the home converge to a single pipe that leads to the septic tank buried outside. When the waste water from your toilet, shower, sinks and washing machine leave your house, it’s combined.
- Everything that goes down any of the drains in the house (toilets, showers, sinks, laundry machines) travels first to the septic tank.
What drains into my septic tank?
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. The liquid wastewater ( effluent ) then exits the tank into the drainfield.
Does your shower water go into septic tank?
From your house to the tank: Most, but not all, septic systems operate via gravity to the septic tank. Each time a toilet is flushed, water is turned on or you take a shower, the water and waste flows via gravity through the plumbing system in your house and ends up in the septic tank.
Can kitchen waste go to septic tank?
Even if processed through a waste disposal unit, coffee grounds break down too slowly and can cause blockages in your system. Cigarette butts, cat litter, kitchen towels, tampons, prophylactics, nappies, and anything else thick or plastic can never go into a septic tank system.
Where does pipe enter septic tank?
Inlet & Outlet Pipes: Wastewater from your home enters the septic tank through the inlet pipe. After the solids settle out, effluent leaves the septic tank through the outlet pipe and flows to the drain field. The outlet pipe should be approximately 3 inches below the inlet pipe.
Which one of the following is purpose of septic tank?
A septic tank is an underwater sedimentation tank used for wastewater treatment through the process of biological decomposition and drainage. Septic tanks allow a safe disposal of wastewater and hence are widely popular in areas that have a poor drainage system or are off the mains sewage network.
What are the signs that your septic tank is full?
Here are some of the most common warning signs that you have a full septic tank:
- Your Drains Are Taking Forever.
- Standing Water Over Your Septic Tank.
- Bad Smells Coming From Your Yard.
- You Hear Gurgling Water.
- You Have A Sewage Backup.
- How often should you empty your septic tank?
Does my bathtub drain into septic tank?
All drains in the home converge to a single pipe that leads to the septic tank buried outside. When the waste water from your toilet, shower, sinks and washing machine leave your house, it’s combined. When it hits the septic tank, however, it begins to separate.
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.
Should washing machine drain into septic tank?
Fortunately, most modern septic systems are entirely capable of handling wastewater from your washing machine, but irresponsible use can still cause serious problems in septic tanks and lines. Erring on the side of caution will help to prevent washing machines from causing serious damage to your septic 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.
Is Dawn dish soap safe for septic systems?
One of the best know is commercials for Dawn dish soap. The ability for the cleaner to disperse oil and grease is better for cleaning, as it helps to break it up. The reason these are bad for septic systems is because if you use too much they can leach out into the environment without being properly treated.
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.
How are septic tanks connected?
The septic tank is connected to the house by a single main drainage pipe also called inlet pipe. The water waste from your home goes through it and into the septic tank where solid and liquid waste are separated from liquid. Like the inlet and outlet pipes, this baffle is often T-shaped to prevent solids from entering.
How do septic tanks look?
Septic tanks are typically rectangular in shape and measure approximately 5 feet by 8 feet. In most cases, septic tank components including the lid, are buried between 4 inches and 4 feet underground. You can use a metal probe to locate its edges and mark the perimeter.
Do all septic tanks have baffles?
Every septic tank contains two baffles, one at the inlet and one at the outlet.
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|
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 Often Are Septic Tanks Emptied, and Where Do the Contents Go?
It’s safe to assume that wherever there are many individuals who run their houses’ waste systems through septic tanks, there will be a slew of local firms that specialize in eliminating the scum and sludge that collect in the tank over a long period of time. This is a crucial service because, if too much sludge accumulates over time, it can cause overflow, which is harmful to everyone involved. Septic pumping for commercial purposes typically consists of a pump truck emptying the sludge, effluent, and scum from the tank and leaving the tank empty and ready to be refilled with fresh sludge and water.
- Prior to the passage of federal legislation prohibiting the disposal of sewage sludge, waste management businesses could simply bury it in landfills.
- These locations still exist, however many of them are in the process of being cleaned up (clean-up).
- In certain situations, the septic contents are transported to waste treatment plants where they are combined with the stew that has been pumped in from a municipal sewer system, or they are supplied to for-profit organizations that specialize in the treatment of septage.
- Septage may also be placed at landfills that have been allowed.
- Because of the difficulties associated with properly disposing of your septic tank’s contents, septage is sometimes employed in a different way: to grow food.
- This application of septage has the potential to be contentious.
- It is expected that, when properly applied to farmland with good soil and a low water table, the soil will work as a filter in the same way as a drain field in the rear of a home with a septic tank will act as a filter.
- Historically, it has been recognized that methane, which is created as a waste product during the breakdown of sewage, may be utilized to generate energy.
- In addition, because the power produced does not burn, there is little or no pollutants emitted.
- One system, constructed south of Seattle, Washington, in 2004, has the capacity to generate enough electricity to power 1,000 houses.
Who would have thought that your feces could be so beneficial? More information about waste treatment may be found on the next page. The original publication date was July 29, 2008.
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
Although what occurs with wastewater is sometimes overlooked when seeking to purchase a new home, it is a critical component of any residence. There are two major methods in which the drain system for your home disposes of wastewater; you will either be connected to a sewer system or have a septic tank installed. The majority of people are inexperienced with the operation of septic tanks, which can create worry among first-time homeowners.
In order to handle all wastewater from the house and disseminate it in a manner that is safe for both you and the environment, septic systems are specifically constructed. We must examine the many components of a functional septic system in order to have a complete understanding of how it operates.
The septic tank is the first phase in the wastewater treatment process. Every plumbing fixture in your home will discharge into the septic tank, where it will begin to decompose. Solid matter will settle to the bottom of the container, creating an environment that is favourable to microbial growth. These bacteria will begin to decompose the solid waste, releasing water known as effluent as well as an oil that rises to the surface of the water. Baffling connects the two halves of the septic tank, which are joined by L-shaped pipes called baffles.
It is necessary to repeat this procedure twice more before the wastewater is ready to be discharged back into the environment.
In a drain field, also known as a leach field, effluent water is allowed to dissipate into the soil through a network of perforated pipes. These pipes are typically buried one to two feet below ground level and are surrounded by gravel to aid in the distribution of the water uniformly throughout the system. In addition, when the effluent water sinks to the water table, the earth absorbs any extra bacteria or particles that were not removed by the septic tank. By the time it reaches the water table, the water has been proven to be absolutely harmless.
How to Care for your Septic System
Being aware of the operation and maintenance of your septic system will help it survive longer and continue to perform properly for a long period of time. When it comes to septic system maintenance, there are numerous factors to keep in mind. In order to function properly, septic systems require a delicate balance of bacteria and waste products. If you flush a large amount of sediments or items that cannot be broken down by these bacteria, the system may become clogged and ineffective. Waste goods such as disposable wipes, coffee grounds, feminine products, and many more can cause difficulties in your septic system.
- To avoid this potential problem, make sure that you are aware of the location of your drain field.
- However, although they may provide a temporary solution, they eliminate the natural bacteria that are necessary for a well functioning septic system.
- The tank must be cleaned on a regular basis to ensure that your system continues to perform properly.
- The septic tank will also be visually inspected by an expert to ensure that there are no new problems forming.
Signs of Failure
Knowing some of the warning signs of a probable breakdown in your septic system might help you avoid more serious problems in the future. When the system is not functioning effectively, it can manifest itself in a variety of ways, including an unpleasant odor around the septic field, sluggish emptying toilets and sinks, and excessive plant growth over the field. You should contact a specialist if you detect any of the indicators of failure listed above, as soon as possible. Withholding attention to any problems with your septic system will result in more extensive and expensive repairs down the road.
Many homeowners are concerned about how their septic system works, but this is not something that they need be concerned about.
A septic system may endure for several decades before it has to be replaced if it receives regular maintenance and is kept on the lookout for any possible problems. Posts from the recent past
Where do Basement Floor Drains Go?
Basement floor drains are required in a wide variety of situations. Small businesses such as car repair shops, manufacturing enterprises, printers, and dry cleaners are among the most popular types of small businesses. Basement floor drains, on the other hand, aren’t usually a source of concern until there is an emergency or a sewage backup. Consequently, before that occurs, it is prudent to consider the question, “Where does my basement floor drain even go?” What the majority of people are unaware of is that their basement floor drains are typically immediately connected to the sewage system of the whole residence.
How basement floor drains are designed
Basement floors are always built at the lowest point of the basement floor structure. Water heater leaks, HVAC unit condensation, and probable significant rain seepage are all sources of leakage for this device’s primary function. Sometimes the drain is connected to the sewage system, which means that it may drain things like washing machines, basement laundry sinks, and water softeners as well as other things. A basement floor drain that is solely linked to a sump pit is common in certain homes due to municipal restrictions that prohibit the drainage of chemicals, salts or detergent through the water system.
Basement floor drains traps
Designed to prevent sewage gas from entering your home, the trap is placed outside your property. Traps like this one may be discovered in bathtubs, sinks, and showers, and they’re easy to find. The majority of the time, the trap is created in the shape of an extended region that always contains water. Water will prevent sewage fumes from rising into the home if they begin to rise in the direction of the house. If you look closely at your basement floor drain, you’ll most likely be able to see the grill, which is located on the visible end of the drain.
What happens if the basement floor drain gets clogged?
It won’t take long for you to smell sewage stink when your drain becomes clogged. In addition, water will be unable to pass through it correctly. In this instance, a drain tool must be used to clear the drain as quickly as possible after it has been blocked. A built-in space in all floor drains allows you to bypass the trap and enter a tool into the drain without having to remove the drain cover from the drain. This distinct hole is equipped with a plug that also serves as a gas storage compartment.
This is why, after immediately clearing the drain, you should replace the stopper with a new one to ensure that no gasses are allowed to pass through.
Basement floor drains serve an important job in your home, as you can see. Depending on the drain, they can lead to a variety of destinations. If you are in need of any basement floor drain repair or simply have a few inquiries, contact the professionals at A-1 Tank!
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
How a Septic System Works – and Common Problems
This Article Discusses Septic Tanks are a type of septic tank that is used to dispose of waste. Field Sizing and System MaintenanceProblems with the Leach FieldSystem Performance Questions and comments are welcome. See Also: Septic System Frequently Asked Questions Articles on SEPTIC SYSTEM may be found here. In locations where there are no municipal sewage systems, each residence is responsible for treating its own sewage on its own property, which is known as a “on-site sewage disposal system,” or septic system, more popularly.
One of the most commonly seen types of leach field is composed of a series of perforated distribution pipes, each of which is placed in a gravel-filled absorption trench.
It’s possible that a small number of homes will be sharing a bigger communal septic system that will function in a similar manner as a single-family system.
The wastewater is collected in the septic tank once it has been discharged from the residence. Septic tanks are normally between 1,000 and 2,000 gallons in capacity and are composed of concrete, strong plastic, or metal, depending on the model. Highly durable concrete tanks, which should endure for 40 years or more provided they are not damaged, are the most common. Many contemporary tanks are designed with two chambers in order to maximize efficiency. Household wastewater is collected in the septic tank, where it is separated and begins to degrade before being discharged into the leach field.
- In the tank, oil and grease float to the top of the tank, where they are known as scum, while solid waste falls to the bottom, where they are known as sludge.
- Bacteria and other microorganisms feed on the sediments at the bottom of the tank, causing them to decompose in an anaerobic (without oxygen) process that begins at the bottom of the tank.
- Solids and grease must be pushed out of the system on a regular basis in order for it to continue to function effectively.
- Each gallon added to the tank results in one gallon being discharged to the leach field, leach pit, or other similar treatment facility.
When used properly, a leach field (also known as a “drain field”) is a series of perforated pipes that are typically buried in gravel trenches 18 to 36 inches below grade — deep enough to avoid freezing, but close enough to the surface that air can reach the bacteria that further purify the effluent (see illustration below). As little as 6 inches might separate you from the ground surface, depending on your soil type and municipal regulations. It is customary to cover the perforated pipes with approximately two inches of gravel and a layer of topsoil that is 18 to 24 inches in depth.
- Grass is often sown above the ground.
- The leach field is comprised of rows of perforated pipes in gravel trenches that are used to spread wastewater over a vast area in order to further purify it.
- A bacteria-rich slime mat forms where the gravel meets the soil, and it is responsible for the majority of the water purification work.
- Despite the fact that wastewater freezes at a far lower temperature than pure water, freezing is still a hazard in cold areas.
- The leftover pathogens are converted into essential plant nutrients by these organisms, while sand, gravel, and soil filter out any solids that remain.
- If the system is operating effectively, the filtered wastewater will return to the aquifer as naturally clean water that is suitable for human consumption at this stage.
- Alternative systems may be permitted in situations when traditional leach fields are unable to function properly owing to poor soil conditions or a high water table.
These systems sometimes cost twice or three times as much as a regular system and require significantly more upkeep. Special systems may also be necessary in regions where there are flood plains, bodies of water, or other ecologically sensitive areas to protect against flooding.
SIZING THE LEACH FIELD
Using perforated pipes put in gravel-filled trenches, the drain field is sized to accommodate the number of beds in the house. In order for the system to function successfully, the leach field must be appropriately sized for the soil type and amount of wastewater, which is normally determined by the number of bedrooms in the house. In order for the liquid to seep into the soil, it must be permeable enough to do so. As a result, the denser the soil, the larger the leach field that is necessary.
- Better to have surplus capacity in your system than to have it cut too close to the bone.
- Septic tank backup into your house, pooling on the surface of the earth, or polluting local groundwater are all possibilities if the ground is incapable of absorbing the liquid.
- Dense clay soils will not absorb the liquid at a sufficient rate, resulting in a backlog.
- If the soil is mostly composed of coarse sand and gravel, it might drain at such a rapid rate that untreated sewage can poison the aquifer or damage surrounding bodies of water.
- Alternative systems may be permitted in situations when traditional leach fields are unable to function properly owing to poor soil conditions or a high water table.
- Near flood plains, bodies of water, and other ecologically sensitive places, special systems may also be necessary to protect people and property.
SEPTIC SYSTEM CAREMAINTENANCE REQUIRED
If you take good care of your system, you will be rewarded with years of trouble-free operation. Pumping the septic tank on a regular basis is necessary to remove the particles (sludge) and grease layer (scum) that have built up in the tank. The solids will ultimately overflow and spill into the leach field, decreasing its efficacy and diminishing its lifespan if this is not done. The rehabilitation of a clogged leach field is difficult, if not impossible; thus, constant pumping is essential!
Cooking fats, grease, and particles may also wash into the leach field if the tank is too small for the amount of water being used or if the tank is overcrowded on a regular basis.
Extra water from excessive residential consumption or yard drainage can overwhelm the system, transporting oil and particles into the leach field and causing it to overflow.
In addition, don’t try to complete a week’s worth of laundry for a family of five in a single day. This will assist you in keeping the load controlled and will also help to extend the life of your system. To minimize overburdening the system, the following measures should be taken:
- Distribute your washing loads and other high-water-use activities across the week
- And In the kitchen and bathroom, use low-flow appliances, faucets, and fixtures. Toilets, in general, are the source of the greatest amount of water use. Water should be diverted away from the leach field from the yard, gutters, and basement sump pumps.
In addition, refrain from flushing sediments, strong chemicals, and just about anything else down the toilet or sink other than biological waste and white toilet paper. Avoid using garbage disposals in the kitchen. If you really must have one, keep it for small non-meat bits only. Avoid flushing chemicals or paints down the toilet since many chemicals can destroy beneficial microorganisms or cause water contamination in the surrounding area. Avoid flushing the following down the toilet:
- Grease, fats, and animal scraps
- Paints, thinners, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals
- And a variety of other materials sanitary napkins, tampons, and other supplies Paper towels and disposable diapers are examples of such products. Egg shells, coffee grounds, and nut shells are all good options. Antibacterial soaps and antibiotics are available.
It is preferable to put grass over the leach field and to refrain from driving or parking in the vicinity. Excessive weight placed on top of the drain field might compress the earth, diminishing its efficiency as a drain field. Drain pipes can also become clogged by trees and plants with invasive roots. In order to prevent damage to the leach field, the following measures should be taken:
- Heavy machinery should not be driven, parked, or stored on top of the leach field (or septic tank). Placement of a deck, patio, pool, or any other sort of construction over the leach field is prohibited. Remove any large trees or other plants with deep roots from the leach field. Grass is the most effective groundcover.
Even with careful use and routine maintenance, however, leach fields are not guaranteed to survive indefinitely. It is inevitable that the soil will get saturated with dissolved elements from the wastewater, and that the soil will be unable to absorb any more incoming water. The presence of an odorous wet area over the leach field, as well as plumbing backups in the house, are frequently the first indicators that something is wrong. Many municipalities mandate septic system designs to incorporate a second “reserve drain field” in the case that the first field fails.
A well constructed and maintained system should last for at least 20 to 30 years, if not longer than that.
More information on Septic System Maintenance may be found here.
SEPTIC SYSTEM PERFORMANCE PROBLEMS
Poor original design, abuse, or physical damage, such as driving heavy trucks over the leach field, are the root causes of the majority of septic system issues. The following are examples of common situations that might cause a septic system to operate poorly: Plumbing in the home. obstructed or insufficient plumbing vents, a blockage between the home and the septic tank, or an insufficient pitch in the sewer line leading from the house are all possible causes. Sewage tank to leach field connection Septic tank and leach field blockage caused by a closed or damaged tank outlet, a plugged line leading to the leach field caused by tree roots, or a blockage caused by sediments that overflowed from the tank Piping in the leach field.
Most of the time, tree roots do not make their way through the gravel bed and into the perforated pipe.
Reduced flows, achieved through the use of flow restrictors and low-flow faucets and fixtures, may be beneficial.
Because of the seasonal high water table, the soil around the trenches might get saturated, reducing the soil’s ability to absorb wastewater.
This may frequently be remedied by adding subsurface drains or curtain drains to intercept the water flow into the leach field region and to lower the water table in the immediate area around the drainage system.
Likewise, see: In order to do a perc test, who should I hire?
Is It Possible for Septic Systems to Last a Lifetime?
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