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.
What does a septic tank do?
- A septic tank is a large tank meant to store sewage waste while it settles. The tank design is used by nearly a fourth of the population in the United States, and is also widely used throughout the world.
Why you need a septic tank?
Septic tanks eliminate waste by using the natural filtering process of the soil. Bacteria is filtered by the soil once the wastewater is out of the septic tank, which makes the water safe to re-use. The use of septic tanks allows for local water tables to be naturally replenished.
What are the disadvantages of a septic tank?
- Maintenance costs $300-$600 every few years (which can still be cheaper than municipal sewer).
- It can cause groundwater contamination if the system leaks.
- If not maintained, you can have a costly mess on your hands.
- Septic tanks will eventually need to be replaced.
What are the pros and cons of having a septic tank?
More cost efficient – Extensive sewer lines are very expensive to build and maintain. On the other hand, a septic tank is cheaper to install and doesn’t come with monthly maintenance costs. Durability – When properly maintained, a septic tank rarely needs to be replaced.
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 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.
What are the three 3 bacteria that separates by septic tank?
Septic tanks work by allowing waste to separate into three layers: solids, effluent and scum (see illustration above). The solids settle to the bottom, where microorganisms decompose them. The scum, composed of waste that’s lighter than water, floats on top.
How long do septic tanks last?
A septic system’s lifespan should be anywhere from 15 to 40 years. How long the system lasts depends on a number of factors, including construction material, soil acidity, water table, maintenance practices, and several others.
Do septic tanks smell?
A properly-maintained septic tank should be odor-free, so if you notice a bad smell inside your home or outside near the leach field, it’s a sign that there’s a problem. Septic odors are caused by gases in the system, including carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and methane.
Is septic tank better than sewer?
Although septic systems require a bit more maintenance and attention, they have a number of advantages over sewer lines. Since they don’t pump wastewater long distances to be processed at a water treatment facility, they use less energy overall and have a smaller environmental impact.
How many loads of laundry a day are safe to do 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.
Can I sell my house with a septic tank?
If you currently have a septic tank that discharges to surface water then the sale will trigger the requirement to replace or upgrade the system. Buyers should satisfy themselves that any system is in good working order and does not cause pollution.
Is it hard to maintain a septic tank?
Septic system maintenance is not complicated, and it does not need to be expensive. Upkeep comes down to four key elements: Inspect and Pump Frequently. Use Water Efficiently.
What is the most common cause of septic system failure?
Most septic systems fail because of inappropriate design or poor maintenance. Some soil-based systems (those with a drain field) are installed at sites with inadequate or inappropriate soils, excessive slopes, or high ground water tables.
How do I clean my septic tank naturally?
You can mix about a 1/4 cup of baking soda with 1/2 cup of vinegar and 2 tablespoons lemon to make your own natural cleaning agent. The baking soda will fizz up to help get the dirt and grime in your tub and drains. It’s a great cleaner and your septic system will thank you!
What to do after septic is pumped?
After you have had your septic tank pumped by a trusted septic company, there are some things you can and should do as the septic system owner.
- 1) Get on a Schedule.
- 2) Take Care of the System.
- 3) Know the Parts of Your System.
- 4) Check Other Possible Issues.
Septic System Basics
When a household isn’t connected to a public sewage system, it normally relies on septic systems to treat and dispose of wastewater. Sewage treatment systems require a substantial financial commitment. The correct maintenance and upkeep of a well-designed, installed, and maintained system will provide years of dependable and low-cost service. The failure of a system can become a source of pollution and public health concern, resulting in property damage, ground and surfacewater pollution (such as contamination of well water used by you and your neighbors), and the spread of disease.
Aside from that, if you are planning to sell your property, your septic system has to be in good functioning order.
Septic systems are available in a variety of configurations to accommodate a wide range of soil and site conditions.
A conventional septic tank system is composed of three major components:
- This is known as the Septic Tank. In order to remove particles from wastewater, store and partially decompose as much solid material as possible, while allowing the liquid (or effluent) to flow to the drainfield, a septic tank must be installed. more
- The Drainage System After the particles have settled in the septic tank, the liquid wastewater (also known as effluent) is released to the drainfield, which is also known as an absorption or leach field, or both. more
- The Soil is a very important factor. The soil under the drainfield is responsible for the ultimate treatment and disposal of the septic tank effluent once it has been treated. Following the passage of wastewater into the soil, organisms in the soil remediate the effluent before it percolates downward and outward, eventually entering ground or surface water sources. A drainfield’s efficacy is also affected by the kind of soil
- For example, clay soils may be too tight to allow much wastewater to run through, while gravelly soil may be too coarse to give much treatment.
- Septic System Inspection Done at Home In order to aid you in examining your system, a VideoField Guide and Checklist may be available at the bottom of the homepage.
Homeowners and residents have a significant impact on the functioning of their septic systems. Overloading the system with more water than it is capable of handling might result in system failure. A septic system can also be damaged by the improper disposal of chemicals or excess organic waste, such as that produced by a trash disposal. The following maintenance suggestions might assist you in ensuring that your system provides long-term, effective treatment of domestic waste.
Inspect and Pump Frequently
The most critical step in keeping your septic tank in good working order is to eliminate sludge and scum build-up before it may flow into the drainfield. The frequency with which your tank has to be pumped is determined by the size of the tank, the number of people in your family, the quantity of water utilized, and the amount of solids (from humans, garbage disposal, and any other waste) that enter the tank’s drainage system. Tanks should be pumped out on average every 3 to 5 years, depending on usage.
- Septic Inspection and Pumping Guide
- Inspecting Your Septic Tank
- Septic Inspection and Pumping Guide
Use Water Efficiently
System failure is frequently caused by an excessive amount of water. The soil beneath the septic system must be able to absorb all of the water that is used in the residence. Too much water from the washing machine, dishwasher, toilets, bathtubs, and showers may not provide enough time for sludge and scum to separate properly in the drain. The less water that is consumed, the less water that enters the septic system, reducing the likelihood of system failure. For further information on water conservation, visit:
- Indoor Water Conservation
- Every gallon of water conserved equates to a savings of $1.00.
Minimize Solid Waste Disposal
What you flush down the toilet can have a significant influence on the performance of your septic system.
Many things do not breakdown properly, and as a result, they accumulate in your septic tank. If you have the option of disposing of it in another manner, do so rather than introducing it into your system.
Keep Chemicals Out of Your System
Protect your septic system against home chemicals such as caustic drain openers, paint and pesticides. Also avoid flushing down the toilet with chemicals such as brake fluid, gasoline, and motor oil. The improper dumping of dangerous substances down the drain is damaging to the environment, as well as the bacteria that are necessary for the breakdown of wastes in a septic system, and should be avoided.
Septic System Additives
It is not essential to add a stimulant or an enhancer to a septic tank in order to assist it in functioning or “to restore bacterial equilibrium.” The naturally occurring bacteria required for the proper operation of the septic system are already present in human excrement. Septic systems, like automobiles, are designed to offer long-term, effective treatment of residential waste if they are properly run and maintained on a regular basis. The majority of systems that fail prematurely, on the other hand, are the result of poor maintenance.
In the event that your septic system fails, call Thurston County Environmental Health at 360-867-2673 for assistance.
- Odors, surface sewage, moist areas, or a dense growth of plants in the drainfield region are all possible problems. Backups from the plumbing or septic tank (which are often a dark liquid with a foul odor)
- Fixtures that take a long time to drain
- The plumbing system is making gurgling sounds. Your drainfield may be failing if you have a well and tests reveal the presence of coliform (bacteria) or nitrates in the water from it. Even in the midst of a drought, the drainfield is covered with lush green grass.
What Is A Septic Tank & How Does It Work?
Many individuals are unfamiliar with the notion of septic tanks. However, for those households that do make use of one, they are extremely important. If you’ve always lived in a property that has been linked to the city’s main sewage system, it’s likely that you haven’t ever heard of a septic tank, let alone understood what it is. What a septic tank is and how it functions will be discussed in detail in this blog.
What Is A Septic Tank?
Essentially, a septic tank is an underwater sedimentation tank that is used to cleanse waste water through the processes of biological breakdown and drainage. A septic tank is a wastewater treatment system that uses natural processes and time-tested technology to treat wastewater from residential plumbing, such as that produced by bathrooms, kitchen drains, and laundry. The design of a septic tank system is pretty straightforward. It is a waterproof container (usually rectangular or spherical) that is buried underground and made of fiber glass, plastic, or concrete.
- septic tank systems are classified as “simple on-site sewage facilities” (OSSFs) since they only provide rudimentary sewage treatment.
- Excreta and wastewater are collected in a large underground tank, and they are mostly utilized in rural regions to keep the environment clean.
- It is common for them to be comprised of two chambers or compartments, as well as a tank that collects wastewater via an entrance pipe.
- This will be maintained and managed by a local water business.
- There are, however, certain additional measures that must be observed.
- Homeowners who have a septic tank have an added responsibility to ensure that their tank does not have an adverse influence on the surrounding environment.
In some cases, if a drain field becomes overwhelmed with too much liquid, it might flood, which can result in sewage flowing to the ground surface or creating backups in toilets and sinks.
How Does A Septic Tank Work?
It is the job of a septic tank to break down organic waste and separate it from floatable substances (such as oils and fats) and solids in wastewater. Two pipelines will be installed to connect a septic tank (for inlet and outlet). Septic tanks are equipped with intake pipes, which are used to convey water waste from homes and collect it in the tank. It is stored here for a sufficient amount of time to allow the solid and liquid waste to be separated from one another. The second pipe is the pipe that goes out.
- This pipe transports pre-processed effluent from the septic tank and disperses it evenly over the land and watercourses of the area.
- (as seen in the illustration above) The top layer is comprised of oils and grease, and it floats above the rest of the waste.
- Wastewater and waste particles are found in the intermediate layer of the wastewater system.
- Bacteria in the tank try their best to break down the solid waste, which then allows liquids to separate and drain away more readily from the tank.
- This is one of the reasons why a septic tank is considered to be a rudimentary type of sewage disposal.
The Step-by-step Process of How a Septic Tank Works
- Water from your kitchen, bathroom, and other areas drains into a single main drainage pipe that leads to your septic tank. The septic tank, which is located underground, begins the process of storing waste water. It must maintain this condition for an extended period of time so that particles settle to the bottom and oil and grease float to the top. Following the completion of this operation, the liquid wastewater (effluent) will be allowed to escape the tank and enter the drainfield. This effluent is dumped into the environment through pipelines onto porous materials. The soil is able to filter wastewater through the use of these. In the process of percolating through the soil, wastewater is accepted, treated, and dispersed by the soil
- The wastewater eventually discharges into groundwater. Last but not least, the wastewater percolates into the soil, where it is naturally removed from the environment by coliform bacteria, viruses and nutrients.
Christian joined the company towards the conclusion of its first year of operation and has since become involved in all parts of the operation.
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.
When gravel is used to surround pipes, water can run into the soil and oxygen can reach germs. The garbage is completely decomposed by aerobic bacteria found in gravel and dirt. 9. 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.
Understanding Septic Systems
On-site (unsewered) systems are used to dispose of domestic wastewater in more than 25 million houses, accounting for about a quarter of the population of the United States. According to the American Housing Survey for the United States, in 1993, 1.5 (million) out of every 4 (million) new owner-occupied home starts relied on some sort of onsite sewage disposal, according to the American Housing Survey. When comparing the ownership of an unsewered vs a sewered house, one of the most significant distinctions is that unsewered wastewater treatment and disposal systems must be maintained by the homeowner.
Using an onsite disposal system is the most prevalent method of treating and disposing of wastewater in rural residences. This method is also the most expensive. Septic systems account for the vast majority of onsite waste disposal systems in the United States.
Typical Septic System
- Perforated pipe of 4 inches in diameter
- Absorption field
- Crushed rock or gravel-lined trench
- Access ports
- Distribution box
How It Works
A typical septic system is comprised of two key components: a septic tank and an absorption field, both of which are shown in the diagram. Distribution boxes are frequently incorporated as part of the system to distribute septic tank effluent uniformly into the absorption field, which is comprised of a network of distribution lines that connect to the absorption field. The septic tank is normally constructed of concrete or fiberglass, is underground, and must be completely waterproof in order to function properly.
Two-compartment tanks are the most common type of septic tank, followed by two single compartment tanks in sequence.
Cross-section of a two-compartment septic tank
A sewage tank’s capacity is normally built to contain 750 to 1,800 gallons of sewage, although it may be customized based on the number of bedrooms in the house and state and local regulatory regulations. In its most basic form, the septic tank serves to filter solids from liquids while also encouraging partial breakdown of pollutants by microbes that are naturally present in the wastewater to achieve the desired results. The particles, which are referred to as sludge, settle in the bottom of the tank, while the scum floats on top of the liquid at the top of the tank.
- Solids that are permitted to flow through the septic tank and into the absorption field might block the absorption field.
- Because of this, the installation of effluent filters at the septic tank outflow provides an extra layer of protection in the effort to keep particles out of the absorption area.
- The effluent is sent to the absorption field through a connecting pipe or distribution box, depending on the configuration.
- Typically, the absorption field is composed of a network of underground perforated pipes or some other proprietary distribution system.
- The absorption field, which is located in the unsaturated zone of the soil, treats the wastewater by utilizing physical, chemical, and biological processes to treat the waste water.
As an added benefit, the soil serves as a natural buffer, removing many hazardous bacteria, viruses, and excessive nutrients from the wastewater as it flows through the unsaturated zone before it reaches the groundwater supply.
- Well for drinking water
- Septic tank
- Distribution box
- Absorption field
- Soil absorption (unsaturated zone)
- Groundwater (saturated zone)
- And other structures.
Wastewater treatment and disposal in soil
In excess, wastewater includes nutrients such as nitrates and phosphates, which can contaminate neighboring streams and groundwater sources, as well as the environment. Extra nutrients in drinking water sources may be damaging to human health and can damage lakes and streams by encouraging weed growth and algal blooms, both of which are detrimental to the environment. But many of these nutrients can be retained in the soil, where they are eventually taken up by the surrounding flora.
What to put in, what to keep out
- All wastewater from your house should be sent into the septic tank. Alternatively, graywater might be channeled to a mulch basin irrigation system or a disposal field. Maintain a safe distance between the absorption field and roof drains, basement sump pump drains, and any rainfall or surface water drainage systems. Increased flooding of the absorption field will inhibit the soil’s ability to naturally cleanse the wastewater, which will result in groundwater and/or surrounding surface water contamination. Conserve water to keep the septic system from being overloaded. Make careful to fix any dripping faucets or leaking toilets. Make use of low-flow plumbing fittings. When dealing with a clogged drain, avoid using caustic drain openers. Clogs should be unclogged instead with hot water or a drain snake. Avoid the use of septic tank additives, commercial septic tank cleaners, yeast, sugar, and other similar substances. Several of these items are not required, and some may even be damaging to your health. Commercial bathroom cleansers and laundry detergents should only be used in small amounts. Many individuals choose to clean their toilets, sinks, showers, and tubs using a gentle detergent or baking soda rather than harsh chemicals. If you have a trash disposal unit, check with the Humboldt County Division of Environmental Health (DEH) to ensure that your septic system is capable of handling the increased waste. Do not allow backwash from your water softener to enter your septic tank. Your septic system is not a garbage disposal system. Grease, disposable diapers, sanitary napkins, tampons, condoms, paper towels, plastics, cat litter, latex paint, pesticides, and other potentially dangerous substances should not be introduced into your system. Records should be kept of all system maintenance operations including repairs, pumping, inspections, permits granted, and other activities. Find out where your septic system is located in your home. Keep a sketch of it with your maintenance record in case you need to bring it in for servicing. Schedule an inspection and pumping of your septic system every three to five years by a professional inspector or contractor
- Only grass should be planted over and near your septic system. A blockage or damage to the absorption field may be caused by roots from surrounding plants or bushes. No portion of your septic system should be driven over or parked over. This might cause the dirt to contract and your system to be crushed.
In summary, understanding how your septic system works and following a few simple principles will help to ensure that your septic system is a safe and cost-effective method of treating and disposing of wastewater on your property.
31st of May, 2019 Eawag is the author and compiler of this work (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology) Dorothee Spuhler is a well-known author (seecon international gmbh)
An underground chamber built of brick, concrete, fiberglass, PVC, or plastic, into which blackwater from cistern or pour-flush toilets and greywater from a conduit running from within a structure or an outdoor toilet is sent for initial treatment, is known as a septic tank. Solids and organics are reduced through settling and anaerobic processes, although the treatment is only modest in effectiveness. Effluent is either absorbed into the ground or carried to a (semi-)centralised treatment facility through a sewer system.
- Advantages Can be constructed and restored using materials that are readily available in the area.
- Technology that is simple and reliable There is no requirement for electrical energy.
- Operational costs are low.
- Low decrease in pathogens, solids, and organics is necessary to transport the waste to the treatment unit.
- This material is only appropriate for low-density dwellings in places with a low water table that are not prone to floods.
- Effluent and sludge require additional treatment and/or disposal in a suitable manner.
|Blackwater,Brownwater,Greywater||Blackwater (settled, Effluent), Faecal Sludge, (Biogas)|
The Body of the Factsheet Among small-scale decentralised treatment units for grey water and blackwater from cistern or pour-flush toilets, the most commonly seen is the septic tank. It functions primarily as a sedimentation tank. It can be either rectangular or cylindrical in form. Septic tanks are often used for wastewater with a high concentration of settleable particles, such as effluent from home sources, but they can also be used for other types of wastewater with comparable characteristics (SASSE 1998).
- Anaerobic degradation occurs as a result of the accumulation of sediments at the bottom of the tank over time.
- The effluent from the septic tank must be distributed by means of aSoak Pit, an evapo-transpiration mound, or a Leach Field, or it must be conveyed to another treatment technology by means of aSolids-Free Sewer, a simplified sewer, or a solids-free sewer system.
- In order to dispose of or reuse sludge safely, it must be emptied on a regular basis (see also human-poweredemptying and motorizedemptying).
- It is possible to use sewage sludge in agriculture as a good nutrient-rich soil additive if it has been dried or composted (see alsopplication of pit humus and compostorapplication of sludge).
- Generally, when septic tanks are utilized as the primary settling treatment in DEWATS systems, they are followed by anaerobic filters, anaerobic baffled reactors (ABRs), horizontal, surface flow, or vertical flow built wetlands (planted gravel filters), and maturation ponds (if applicable).
- An illustration of a septic tank’s general layout.
- The biogas produced during anaerobic digestion can be expelled through a venting pipe.
coli removal rates of one log can all be expected in a properly designed and maintained septic tank, though actual removal rates can vary greatly depending on operating and maintenance practices as well as environmental conditions.
The Body of the Factsheet Concrete or brick work should be used to construct at least two chambers in a sewage treatment system. PVC or fibreglass septic tanks, as well as pre-fabricated concrete rings are also available and may be more cost-effective in some situations (WSP 2008). The first chamber should account for at least half of the overall length (SASSE 1998), and if there are only two chambers, the first chamber should account for two-thirds of the total length (SASSE 1998) The majority of the solids are concentrated in the first chamber.
- The use of a T-shaped outlet pipe, with the bottom arm of the pipe diving 30 cm below the water surface (SASSE 1998), helps to further minimize the amount of scum and particles released.
- When the flow is smooth and undisturbed, sedimentation can provide the most effective physical therapy possible.
- Different treatment effects prevail depending on how the incoming influent flows through the tank during the initial treatment.
- As active materials that have not been entirely fermented exit the tank, foul odors are produced as a result (SASSE 1998).
- It is necessary to allow for the escape of the gases created during anaerobic digestion.
- If the drainage system is not vented, a screened vent pipe should be installed from the septic tank to the outside environment (WHO 1992).
- Source: Environmental Protection Agency of the United States (n.y.) It is important to have access to all chambers (through access ports) in order to do maintenance.
- The design of a septic tank is influenced by the number of users, the amount of water used per capita, the average yearly temperature, the frequency of desludging, and the properties of the effluent being treated (SASSE 1998).
- According to SASSE (1998), a tank volume of around 80 to 100 L should be given per residential user, however most nations have a national requirement for tank volume per domestic user.
- If you want to attain modest results, you need keep the patient for 48 hours.
- Sources: U.S.
coli (a fecal indicator bacteria) (TILLEY et al. 2008), although efficacy varies greatly depending on influent concentrations and climatic conditions (UNEP 2004). If you want to attain modest results, you need keep the patient for 48 hours.
An Aquaprivy is a type of septic tank that is a variant on the standard design. This is a basic storage and settling tank that is situated just below the toilet, allowing the excreta to fall into it through a line that leads to the toilet. When the bottom of the pipe is submerged in a liquid in the tank, it forms a water seal, which keeps flies, mosquitoes, and odors from escaping (WHO 1992). The tank performs the same duties as a septic tank. The wastewater is normally infiltrated into the ground through a soak pit, and the solids (sludge) that build must be cleaned on a regular basis (WHO 1992).
The Aquaprivy has a low efficiency in terms of therapy.
WAaF is the source (2002)
The Body of the Factsheet The influent and effluent are kept separate under normal operating circumstances so that consumers are not exposed to them. Several difficulties associated with septic tank systems develop as a result of a failure to pay proper thought to the disposal of the tank effluent. Because septic tank effluent is anaerobic, it is likely to contain a significant number of germs, which can be a source of infection for those who come into contact with it (WHO 1992). Because they contain high amounts of harmful organisms, effluent, scum, and sludge must be treated with caution when they are generated.
When opening the tank, users should exercise caution since toxic and combustible gases may be emitted into the environment.
Factsheet Block BodySeptic tank construction costs are quite modest when compared to the costs of other water-based systems. However, they are significantly more expensive than dry toilets or composting toilets, making them unaffordable for the majority of individuals in our society. There must also be enough piped water to flush all of the wastes through the drains, and human or mechanical de-sludging (using a vacuum or a gulper) de-sludging must be performed on a regular basis. Engineers are required to develop the design and plan, while untrained laborers can carry out the building work provided a mason oversees the project.
The Body of the Factsheet Septic tanks should be “seeded” with sludge from another tank that has been in operation for some time in order to ensure that the required bacteria responsible for anaerobic digestion are present when the tank is first started (WHO 1992). Because of the fragile ecosystem, it is important to avoid discharging harsh chemicals into the septic system. The levels of scum and sludge in the tank must be checked to verify that the tank is operating properly. De-sludging is required when sludge and scum occupy half to two-thirds of the entire depth between the water level and the bottom of the tank, as measured above the water level (WHO 1992).
- Septic tanks should be drained on a regular basis, usually every 2 to 5 years.
- This is an unpleasant job, and care must be taken to ensure that sludge does not spill around the tank during the emptying process.
- faecal sludge must be dehydrated (see also planted or unplanted drying beds, settling or thickening ponds) and further processed before it can be used (e.g.smallorlarge scalecomposting,anaerobic digestion).
- It is recommended that the separated effluents from these systems be treated in waste stabilisation ponds (WSP) or built wetlands (CW) (surface flow,horizontalorvertical flow).
- The integrity of septic tanks should be tested on a regular basis to ensure that they are not leaking.
It is also important to conduct routine inspections in order to remove floating debris such as coarse materials and grease, to verify that there are no obstructions at the inlet or exit, and to determine whether de-sludging is required.
At a Glance
The Body of the Factsheet
|Working Principle||Basically a sedimentation tank (physical treatment) in which settled sludge is stabilised by anaerobic digestion (biological treatment). Dissolved and suspended matter leaves the tank more or less untreated.|
|Capacity/Adequacy||Household and community level; Primary treatment for domestic grey- and blackwater. Depending on the following treatment, septic tanks can also be used for industrial wastewater. Not adapted for areas with high groundwater table or prone to flooding.|
|Performance||BOD: 30 to 50%; TSS: 40 to 60 %; E. coli: 1 log unitsHRT: about 1 day|
|Costs||Low-cost, depending on availability of materials and frequency of de-sludging.|
|Self-help Compatibility||Requires expert design, but can be constructed with locally available material.|
|O M||Should be checked for water tightness, scum and sludge levels regularly.Sludgeneeds to be dug out every 1 to 5 years and discharged properly (e.g. in composting or drying bed). Needs to be vented.|
|Reliability||When not regularly emptied, wastewater flows through without being treated. Generally good resistance to shock loading.|
|Main strength||Simple to construct and to operate.|
|Main weakness||Effluentand sludge require further treatment. Long start-up phase.|
Applicability The majority of the time, this technology is utilized at the home level. The design of larger, multi-chamber septic tanks for groups of residences or public buildings can be accomplished by combining many chambers (e.g., schools). A septic tank is ideal in situations when there is a means of dispersing or transferring the sewage away from the property. Septic tank effluents can be penetrated into the soil and stored in soak pits, aleach fields, or mounds. Due to the presence of pathogens in the effluent, it should not be utilized for agricultural irrigation and should not be released into canals or surface water drains (WHO 1992).
Septic tanks should be connected to some form of conveyance technology (such as a simplified sewer or a solids-free sewer), via which the effluent is transferred to a later Treatment or Disposal site, rather than being used alone (e.g.surface flow,horizontalorvertical flowconstructed wetlands).
- Because the septic tank must be desludged on a regular basis, it is necessary for a vacuum truck to be able to reach the site.
- Every sort of environment may accommodate septic tanks, albeit the efficiency of these tanks will be reduced in colder climes.
- However, they must be emptied on a regular basis and require ongoing upkeep (TILLEY et al.
- Material for Raising Awareness
Alternative Versions to
Sewage or septic tank disposal are both necessary methods of getting rid of trash. However, when done right, one is more environmentally friendly than the other – so let’s have a look at some of the advantages of using a septic tank. The following is from Wikipedia: “A septic tank is an important component of a septic system, which is a small-scale sewage treatment system prevalent in locations where there is no connection to the main sewage pipelines supplied by municipal governments or private organizations.” Pumps, alarms, sand filters, and cleared liquid effluent disposal techniques such as a septic drain field, ponds, natural stone fiber filter plants, or peat moss beds are examples of additional components that are normally under the jurisdiction of local governments.
Septic Tanks Are Good For The Environment
Septic tanks remove waste from the environment by utilizing the soil’s natural filtration mechanism. Prior to ending up in the leachfield or drainfield, wastewater is filtered by the septic tank and then discharged. Once the wastewater has been pumped out of the septic tank, the bacteria in the soil filter it out, making the water safe to drink and reuse. The usage of septic tanks allows for the replenishment of local water tables in a natural manner. In addition, septic tanks contribute to this cycle by recycling wastewater, which benefits the local animal population.
Septic Tanks Last For Years
As long as it is properly maintained and pumped on a regular basis, a septic tank can survive for several years. Septic tanks typically endure between 20 and 40 years in most circumstances. With good care and maintenance, it is feasible to utilize a septic tank for a longer period of time. It is important to hire a qualified specialist to do routine maintenance on the tank and to prevent blockages and other problems.
Septic Tanks Are An Affordable Option
Installing new pipes in order to remove wastewater through a public sewage system is often more expensive than employing a septic tank as a wastewater treatment system. If your property is more than an acre in size, a septic tank will most likely be the more cost-effective alternative. When it comes to installing a tank, the price varies depending on where you live, what sort of system you want, and how huge the tanks must be. It is expected that over time the cost of an aseptic tank pump, pumping, and tank maintenance will be less expensive than the cost of utilizing the city’s public sewer system.
Schedule A Septic Tank Pumping
You must get your septic tank examined and pumped on a regular basis if you want it to last. The expense of maintaining your septic tank is less expensive than the cost of depending on a public sewage system to dispose of your wastewater. Septic tanks are also more environmentally friendly than other methods of disposal.
Why You Should Consider A Septic System
Having your septic tank checked and pumped on a regular basis is essential for its proper operation and maintenance. The expense of maintaining your septic tank is less expensive than the cost of depending on a public sewage system to dispose of your waste water. Septic tanks are also more environmentally friendly than other options.
Septic Tanks Are Better For The Environment
The usage of a septic tank will help you lower your environmental footprint since this system eliminates wastewater by utilizing the soil’s natural filtration mechanism. The septic tank is responsible for filtering the water before it is discharged into the soil. The bacteria are subsequently removed from the water by the soil, which makes it safe to consume and reuse. By utilizing a septic tank, you will be assisting in the replenishment of the water table found under your property. The fact that you are recycling your wastewater on your property means that the local water table is constantly being refilled, which is helpful to the plants and animals.
You Won’t Have To Replace The Tank
If you keep your septic tank in good condition, it will last as long as your house.
Septic tanks may last for up to forty years, and even longer if you get them inspected and maintained on a regular basis by an experienced specialist. You should seek the services of a professional who can maintain your septic tank on a regular basis in order to avoid damage and obstructions.
Septic Tanks Cost Less
Water expenses will be greater if you use a public sewage system, which is why you should avoid it. Using a septic tank is far more economical than using a sewer system since there are no expenditures associated with it other than the initial construction and periodic maintenance. A septic tank installation will cost you depending on how much of a tank you want, what type of system you choose, and where your property is located, but you will save money in the long run if you install one.
Have Your Septic Tank Pumped
You must get your septic tank drained and examined on a regular basis if you want it to function properly. This may be accomplished using a septic tank pump or by hiring a professional to assist you. It is critical to keep your septic tank in good functioning order in order to extend its lifespan and avoid problems. Saving money while also decreasing your carbon impact can benefit you in the long run.
How To Properly Care For Your Septic Tank
- Maintain a record of your activities. System plans and drawings, as well as some service documents, should be kept on hand at all times. This will make it simpler to locate your septic tank and will provide you with an indication of how frequently the system should be examined and maintained in the future. When it comes to laundry, be cautious. Ideally, you should spread your laundry out over the course of the week rather than washing all of your items on one single day. Instead of using a liquid fabric softener, use dryer sheets, and pick detergents that are biodegradable and do not cause suds. Make repairs to your plumbing. In the event that you have a leak in your home, a large amount of water may be drained into your septic tank. Inspect your fixtures for leaks and fix any that you discover. Your septic tank and drain field will survive longer as a result of this. Water softeners should be used with caution. It is possible that your local regulatory body will allow you to use softeners that release different amounts of softener depending on how much water you use. The fact is, water softeners can cause harm to your septic system, so be cautious while using them. Food waste should be handled with care. It is possible that your local regulatory body will authorize you to utilize a waste disposal. Keep in mind that if you use a garbage disposal, you will have to empty the septic tank more frequently since the solids will build up more quickly. When disposing of significant volumes of food waste, it is preferable to utilize the trash disposal rather than pouring fats, oils, and grease down the drain. This will cause blockages in your septic tank and can make it harder for the microorganisms to break down the waste in your tank
- Instead, use biodegradable chemicals to clean your tank. Citric acid, chlorine, and other biodegradable cleaning and disinfecting solutions can be used to clean and disinfect your property. Avoid the use of items that include pine oil or quaternary ammonium nitrate. If at all possible, avoid using drain cleaners to clear obstructions unless absolutely necessary
- It is not recommended to connect floor drains to your septic system. A garage or a workshop with floor drains may result in the entry of gases, sawdust, and oils into the home’s septic system. Never dump medication down the toilet. Any prescription medications that contain antibiotics might have a bad influence on your septic system. It is preferable to dispose of expired medication in the garbage or to return it to your doctor or local pharmacy for disposal. Additives should not be used. Although enzymes and additives for septic systems are available, the tank should already have all of the microorganisms necessary to break down the waste it contains. It is not required to use chemicals or enzymes, and doing so might be detrimental. When using toilet paper, exercise caution. Choose non-quilted paper instead of quilted paper, and avoid buying paper containing color dyes since microorganisms may be unable to degrade the dyes. In the case of non-bleached brown toilet paper, you should be aware that the breakdown process may be prolonged and that your septic tank may need to be drained more regularly. It is not recommended to flush heavier things such as paper towels or wipes.
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