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.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
Septic drain field – Wikipedia
- WHAT COMES OUT OF YOUR SEPTIC TANK A septic tank’s primary job may be to hold as much household wastewater as the tank’s capacity allows, but the tank also has the task of separating wastewater into more manageable components—solids, scum, and liquids.
Where does human waste go from septic tank?
In reality, most of the faecal sludge collected from septic tanks is dumped into rivers, drains and sewers or emptied untreated into agricultural fields and low-lying areas.
What diseases can you get from a septic tank?
Diseases Involving Sewage
- Campylobacteriosis. Campylobacteriosis is the most common diarrheal illness in the United States.
- Cryptosporidiosis. A disease caused by the microscopic parasite Cryptosporidium parvum.
- Escherichia coli Diarrhea.
- Hepatitis A.
What lives in your septic tank?
The microbes associated with septic systems are bacteria, fungi, algae, protozoa, rotifers, and nematodes. Bacteria are by a wide margin the most numerous microbes in septic systems.
Does poop float in septic tank?
The American diet is often high in fats (which cause feces to float in a septic tank), or high in iron-rich meat (which blackens your stool and causes it to sink like torpedo). Neither of these is good for your septic tank, but you can change that by changing your lifestyle and eating habits.
Can I take a shower if my septic tank is full?
Only the water would get out into the leach field in a proper system unless you run too much water too fast. The thing to do is to run your shower water outside into it’s own drain area, but it may not be allowed where you are. Used to be called gray water system.
How do you know 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 mold grow in septic tank?
Septic tank fumes often carry airborne bacteria as well. A failing septic system can also send mold spores back into your home, which is problematic for people with asthma and mold allergies.
Can heavy rain affect septic tank?
It is common to have a septic back up after or even during a heavy rain. Significant rainfall can quickly flood the ground around the soil absorption area (drainfield) leaving it saturated, making it impossible for water to flow out of your septic system.
Can a leaking septic tank make you sick?
The fumes that waft out of a failing septic tank and into your home can carry airborne bacteria. These pathogens can make your family ill by triggering sinus infections and other respiratory illnesses when breathed in on a regular basis.
What can break down poop in septic tank?
Yeast helps actively breaks down waste solids when added to your septic system. Flush ½ cup of dry baking yeast down the toilet, the first time. Add ¼ cup of instant yeast every 4 months, after the initial addition.
Does hair decompose in septic tank?
Why Hair is a Such a Problem It’s composed of tough strands of proteins similar to those in your fingernails, and it’s not easily broken down by bacteria. Even if it doesn’t for years in your septic tank, it’ll almost certainly last for longer than the 24-48 hours that it sits in your septic tank.
Do I need to add chemicals to my septic tank?
Chemicals and other additives promoted to keep a septic system “healthy” or “free-flowing” or “nourished” are generally not required nor recommended by any known expert sources.
How long does it take human waste to decompose in septic tank?
It can vary from as little as 2 years to as long as 100 years! Rather than waiting for the septic system to reach its breaking point, it is advisable to act upon it beforehand, cleaning the tank out every 1–3 years is advisable. One of the best ways to do it is by cleaning the water before it leaves the tank.
How long does it take for poop to break down in a septic tank?
The bacteria take 2-4 hours to germinate and then begin to break down solid waste. If the temperature and conditions are favorable, then the bacteria will multiply to the maximum level that the environment will allow in about 2-4 days.
How Does a Septic Tank Work?
You may save a lot of money if you understand how a septic tank works—and what might go wrong—so that you can take care of 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 harm 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
Make sure the pipes are clean and free of debris. A rotating pressure washer, used by a contractor, can be used to clean out the drain septic field pipe. The cost of “jetting” the pipes is around $200. Chemicals should be used to clean the system up. A commercial solution (not a home-made product) that enhances the quantity of oxygen in the drain field should be discussed with your contractor before installation. Septic-Scrub is a product that I highly suggest. The average cost of a treatment is between $500 and $1,000.
The procedure of “terra-lifting,” which involves pumping high-pressure air into several spots around the drain field, is authorized in some jurisdictions.
This might range from less than $1,000 to more than $4,000, depending on the circumstances.
Don’t overload the septic system
Reduce the amount of water you use. The volume of water that flows into your tank, particularly over a short period of time, can be reduced to avoid untreated waste from being flushed into your drain field.
Replace outdated toilets with low-flow ones, install low-flow showerheads, and, perhaps most importantly, wash laundry throughout the week rather than just on Saturday mornings to save water.
Meet the Expert
Septic systems, according to Jim vonMeier, are the solution to America’s water deficit because they supply cleaned water to depleted aquifers, according to vonMeier. He travels the country lobbying for septic systems, giving lectures, and giving testimony. For septic system inquiries, as well as information on the operation of the septic tank, contact him by email.
Septic Tank Everything that goes down any of the drains in the house
|Septic TankEverything that goes down any of the drains in the house (toilets, showers, sinks, laundry machines) travels first to the septic tank. The septic tank is a large-volume, watertight tank which provides initial treatment of the household wastewater by intercepting solids and settleable organic matterbefore disposal of the wastewater (effluent) to the drainfield.Function of the Septic TankHow Long Liquids Must Remain In TankSolids StorageAnaerobic DecompositionFlow Into And Out Of The TankEffluent FilterFlow BufferingMicrobes in Septic Tanks Digest, Dissolve, and Gasify Complex Organic Wastes.FUNCTION OF THE SEPTIC TANK While relatively simple in construction and operation, the septic tank provides a number of important functions through a complex interaction of physical and biological processes. The essential functions of the septic tank are to: receive all wastewater from the house separate solids from the wastewater flow cause reduction and decomposition of accumulated solids provide storage for the separated solids (sludge and scum) pass the clarified wastewater (effluent) out to the drain field for final treatment and disposal.Primary TreatmentAs stated, the main function of the septic tank is to remove solids from thewastewater and provide a clarified effluent for disposal to the drain field.The septic tank provides a relatively quiescent body of water where thewastewater is retained long enough to let the solids separate by bothsettling and flotation. This process is often called primary treatment andresults in three products: scum, sludge, and effluent.Scum: Substances lighter than water (oil, grease, fats) float to the top,where they form a scum layer. This scum layer floats on top of the watersurface in the tank. Aerobic bacteria work at digesting floating solids.Sludge: The “sinkable” solids (soil, grit, bones, unconsumed food particles)settle to the bottom of the tank and form a sludge layer. The sludge isdenser than water and fluid in nature, so it forms a flat layer along thetank bottom. Underwater anaerobic bacteria consume organic materials in thesludge, giving off gases in the process and then, as they die off, becomepart of the sludge.Effluent: Effluent is the clarified wastewater left over after the scum hasfloated to the top and the sludge has settled to the bottom. It is theclarified liquid between scum and sludge. It flows through the septic tankoutlet into the drain field.Back to listingsHOW LONG LIQUIDS MUST REMAIN IN TANK Effective volume: The floating scum layer on top and the sludge layer on thebottom take up a certain amount of the total volume in the tank. Theeffective volume is the liquid volume in the clear space between the scumand sludge layers. This is where the active solids separation occurs as thewastewater sits in the tank.Retention time: In order for adequate separation of solids to occur, thewastewater needs to sit long enough in the quiescent conditions of the tank.The time the water spends in the tank, on its way from inlet to outlet, isknown as the retention time. The retention time is a function of theeffective volume and the daily household wastewater flow rate:Retention Time (days) = Effective Volume (gallons)/Flow Rate (gallons per day)A common design rule is for a tank to provide a minimum retention time ofat least 24 hours, during which one-half to two-thirds of the tank volume istaken up by sludge and scum storage. Note that this is a minimum retentiontime, under conditions with a lot of accumulated solids in the tank. Underordinary conditions (i.e., with routine maintenance pumping) a tank shouldbe able to provide two to three days of retention time.As sludge and scum accumulate and take up more volume in the tank, theeffective volume is gradually reduced, which results in a reduced retentiontime. If this process continues unchecked-if the accumulated solids are notcleaned out (pumped) often enough-wastewater will not spend enough time inthe tank for adequate separation of solids, and solids may flow out of thetank with the effluent into the drain field. This can result in clogged pipesand gravel in the drain field, one of the most common causes of septic systemfailure.Back to listingsSOLIDS STORAGE In order to avoid frequent removal of accumulated solids, the septic tank is(hopefully) designed with ample volume so that sludge and scum can be storedin the tank for an extended period of time. A general design rule is thatone-half to two-thirds of the tank volume is reserved for sludge and scumaccumulation. A properly designed and used septic system should have thecapacity to store solids for about five years or more. However, the rate ofsolids accumulation varies greatly from one household to another, and actualstorage time can only be determined by routine septic tank inspections.Back to listingsANAEROBIC DECOMPOSITION While fresh solids are continually added to the scum and sludge layers,anaerobic bacteria (bacteria that live without oxygen) consume the organicmaterial in the solids. The by-products of this decomposition are solublecompounds, which are carried away in the liquid effluent, and various gases,which are vented out of the tank via the inlet pipe that ties into the houseplumbing air vent system.Anaerobic decomposition results in a slow reduction of the volume ofaccumulated solids in the septic tank. This occurs primarily in the sludgelayer but also, to a lesser degree, in the scum layer. The volume of thesludge layer is also reduced by compaction of the older, underlyingsludge. While a certain amount of volume reduction occurs over time, sludgeand scum layers gradually build up in the tank and eventually must be pumpedout.Back to listingsFLOW INTO AND OUT OF THE TANK The inlet and outlet ports of the tank are generally equipped with devicessuch as baffles, concrete tees, or in more recent years, sanitary tees(T-shaped pipes with one short and one long leg).InletsThe inlet device dissipates the energy of the incoming flow and deflects itdownwards. The vertical leg of the tee extends below the liquid surface wellinto the clear space below the scum layer. This prevents disturbance of thefloating scum layer and reduces disruptive turbulence caused by incomingflows. The inlet device also is supposed to prevent short-circuiting offlows across the water surface directly to the outlet.The upper leg of the inlet should extend well above the liquid surface inorder to prevent floating scum from backing up into, and possibly plugging,the main inlet pipe. The open top of the inlet tee allows venting of gasesout of the tank through the inlet pipe and fresh air vents of the householdplumbing.OutletsThe outlet device is designed to retain the scum layer within the tank. Asanitary tee can be used with the lower leg extending below the scum layer.The elevation of the outlet port should be 2 to 3 inches below the elevationof the inlet port. This prevents backwater and stranding of solids in themain inlet pipe during momentary rises in the tank liquid level caused bysurges of incoming wastewater.Typical inlet/outlet teesGas Deflection BaffleGases are produced by the natural digestion of sludge at the bottom of thetank, and particles of sludge can be carried upward by these rising gases.Some tanks have a gas deflection baffle, which prevents gas bubbles (towhich solid particles often adhere) from leaving the tank by deflecting themaway from the outlet and preventing them from entering the drain field.Back to listingsTHE EFFLUENT FILTER In newer systems, there is often an effluent filter: one of the significantimprovements in septic tank design in decades. They range from 4 to 18inches in diameter. As we have described, the most serious problem withseptic systems is the migration of solids, grease, or oil into thedrain field, and the filter is effective in preventing this.A filter restricts and limits passage of suspended solids into the effluent.Solids in a filtered system’s effluent discharge are significantly less thanthose produced in a non-screened system.Back to listingsFLOW BUFFERING The septic tank also provides a buffering of flows between the house and thedrain field. Large surges from the household, such as toilet flushing orwashing machine drainage, are dampened by the septic tank so that the flowsleaving the tank and entering the drain field are at substantially lower flowrates and extend over a longer period of time than the incoming surges.Back to listingsMICROBES IN SEPTIC TANKS DIGEST, DISSOLVE, AND GASIFY COMPLEX ORGANIC WASTES In 1907, W. P. Dunbar conducted tests on the decomposition of vegetable andanimal matter in septic tanks. He stated, “The author has investigated thesubject by suspending in septic tanks a large number of solid organicsubstances, such as cooked vegetables, cabbages, turnips, potatoes, peas,beans, bread, various forms of cellulose, flesh in the form of dead bodiesof animals, skinned and unskinned, various kinds of fat, bones, cartilage,etc., and has shown that many of these substances are almost completelydissolved in from three to four weeks. They first presented a swollenappearance, and increased in weight. The turnips had holes on the surface,which gradually became deeper. The edges of the cabbage leaves looked asthough they had been bitten, and similar signs of decomposition were visiblein the case of other substances. Of the skinned animals, the skeleton aloneremained after a short time; with the unskinned animals the process lastedrather longer. At this stage I will only point out that the experiments wereso arranged that no portion of the substances could be washed away; theirdisappearance was therefore due to solution and gasification.”Back to listings|
The 5 Biggest Questions Home Buyers Have About Septic Systems
Image courtesy of istockphoto.com The word “septic system” in a home ad is well-known for scaring away potential purchasers from the property. Some homebuyers may consider the system to be obsolete, expensive to fix, or difficult to keep up to date. Septic systems, on the other hand, do not have to be frightening. A septic tank and its accompanying parts may easily endure for decades if they have a good maintenance record and are properly inspected on a regular basis. Don’t instantly rule out an attractive property because it has this sort of system buried out back if you’re contemplating booking a viewing appointment.
Continue reading to learn more about septic systems, including how they function, common misunderstandings about them, how to maintain them, how to locate a septic system inspector, and indicators that a septic system is in danger of collapsing.
1. How do septic systems work?
Water that has been filtered by a septic system is called effluent. There are several components, including a big septic tank, distribution box, baffles, and a drainfield, all of which are buried below ground. Septic fields and leach fields are other names for the drainfield, which is a network of perforated pipes that extends out from the septic tank and allows filtered wastewater to be released back into the environment through the soil. The wastewater from your home, including that from toilets, sinks, showers, and appliances, is channeled out of the house and into the tank through the pipes.
The accumulation of particles over time offers a luxury home for helpful anaerobic bacteria, which work to break down the materials and release the grease, oil, and fats that have accumulated on the surface (the scum).
The residual wastewater (also known as effluent) runs via outlet pipes into a disposal bed or drainfield, where it is slowly and securely filtered by the earth, allowing it to be recycled.
2. What are common misconceptions about septic systems?
A lot of people have misconceptions (and even falsehoods) regarding septic systems, and this may make it difficult to decide whether or not to purchase a property that has one. Take a moment to put some popular myths and misconceptions in their proper perspective.
- A septic system is no longer used by most people. Actually, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), around 20% of homes are equipped with a septic system, or one in every five dwellings. Septic systems fail on a regular basis. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a septic system may survive up to 40 years—and possibly even longer—with proper maintenance. Septic systems have a foul odor. It is unlikely that an improperly managed septic system will release any unpleasant smells. An odor emanating from drains or the septic system itself indicates that there is a problem. A septic system has the potential to pollute a well. Installed correctly and maintained on a regular basis, a system will not cause contamination of a well on the property. To guarantee proper separation of drinking water and wastewater, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that the system be installed at least 50 feet away from a well. The septic system will be examined during a house inspection. A house inspection is often focused on the systems within the home, and as a result, it seldom includes more than a cursory examination of the septic system. Look for a professional that understands the workings of a septic system and how to do a comprehensive inspection in order to obtain a complete picture.
3. How do you maintain a septic system?
Septic systems require regular care and maintenance in order to function properly.
The good news is that keeping a septic system in excellent working order is rather straightforward. Here’s how to keep it in proper functioning order.
- Take cautious with the information you submit over the system. Pouring anything down the toilet should be avoided at all costs. This includes things like paint and chemicals, kitty litter, coffee grinds, disposable wipes, diapers, and feminine products. These are all potential clog-makers in the septic system. It is best not to use any additives in the system. Additives may be classified into two categories, according to the National Small Flows Clearinghouse, which are chemical and biological. Despite the fact that these solutions are touted to accomplish anything from speed solids breakdown to enhance the condition of the drainfield, they typically cause havoc on the bacteria that are intended to keep the system running smoothly. Keep vehicles away from drainfields and never park or drive over them, since this might cause damage to the pipes. When planting shrubs or trees near a drainfield, use caution to avoid damaging the plants. The roots of some water-loving plants, such as weeping willows, can find their way into the drainfield, outlet pipes, or even the septic tank system itself. According to the Virginia Cooperative Extension, a fair rule of thumb is: if a tree will grow to be 25 feet tall, it should be kept at least 25 feet away from the drainfield
- If a tree will grow to be 25 feet tall, it should be kept at least 25 feet away from the drainfield
- Get your septic tank pumped out by a professional septic service on average every two or three years. An further visual inspection of the component is often performed at the same time by a qualified specialist
- Call a specialist as soon as you see any signs of impending failure (as indicated below)! The sooner you contact, the less expensive a repair may be
Image courtesy of istockphoto.com
4. How do you find the best septic system inspector?
Once an offer on a home is made, the deal is nearly always subject on the outcome of a thorough inspection of the property, which includes an examination of the septic system. Important to remember is that what is stated on a seller’s disclosure form is not a substitute for a thorough inspection of the property being offered for sale. The average homeowner does not have the necessary knowledge or equipment to conduct a thorough inspection of the system. If there are concealed issues, it is possible that the homeowner will not be aware of them.
- One of the most common types of house inspection is a general home inspection, which evaluates the structure of the home, systems within it (such as plumbing and electricity), roof condition, and maybe some of the external features.
- As a result, always seek the services of a septic system specialist for an inspection.
- Your neighbors and real estate agent may be able to provide you with a few decent leads.
- To begin, contact each possible inspector and ask them about their approach to the task; for example, some may use cameras to evaluate the distribution box and drainfield, while others may dig to complete their inspection.
- Once the inspection has begun, the expert will search for pumping and maintenance records, examine for signs of leakage or backup, measure the levels of sludge and scum, and determine the age of the tank, among other things.
- Depending on whether or not the property includes extensions that were built after the septic tank was originally installed, an inspector may give recommendations to make the residence more sanitary.
- Image courtesy of istockphoto.com
5. What are the signs that a septic system needs to be replaced?
It is critical to notice the warning symptoms of impending failure before they manifest themselves.
For the most part, failure of a septic system goes unnoticed at first. Keeping an eye out for warning indicators will help you arrange a replacement before something goes wrong.
- Gurgling noises coming from outside sewers
- Interior drains in bathtubs and sinks that are slow to drain
- Odors emanate from the sewage treatment plant, drainfield or inside drains of the house. There are wet places visible over the drainfield. Water is backing up into the home from the sewer line. Toilets are flushing more slowly
- This is a problem. A sudden and dramatic increase in the amount of lush and full vegetation over the drainfield might indicate a probable obstruction or break in the exit pipes outside.
Image courtesy of istockphoto.com
Septic systems, which are used in around 20% of homes in the United States, are designed to remove effluent from a residence. While septic systems may need a bit more maintenance than utilizing a public sewage system, they are not nearly as difficult to maintain as their reputation would have you believe. A well-maintained septic system may survive up to 40 years if it is inspected on a regular basis and kept on the lookout for indicators of potential problems. It is critical for homebuyers contemplating a property with a septic system to have the system inspected by a professional before making an offer.
FAQs About Septic Tanks and Septic Systems
When it comes to septic systems, there is a lot to understand. Even after reviewing the information provided above, you may still have concerns regarding how septic systems operate and how to properly manage them. Answers to some frequently asked questions concerning septic systems are provided here.
Q: How does a septic tank work?
When sewage is discharged into a septic tank, the solid stuff descends to the bottom, where it is colonized by helpful anaerobic bacteria, which work to break down the solids and liberate the lipids contained within them. The byproducts rise to the surface of the tank and are separated by a series of baffles.
Q: What are the three types of septic systems?
Traditional septic systems are classified into three types: chamber septic systems, drip distribution systems, and septic systems with chambers. In most cases, conventional systems are employed in residential buildings. Typically, a chamber system is used in high water table settings due to the fact that it is comprised of a succession of closed compartments. Drip systems are often less difficult to install, but they require more upkeep.
Q: How many years does a septic system last on average?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a well managed septic system may survive for 40 years. It is essential that you get the septic system evaluated before to purchasing a property so that you can get an estimate of how long the septic system is projected to operate.
Q: What is the alternative to a septic tank?
An aerobic treatment system, composting waste, and a drip system are all options for replacing a septic tank in a residential setting.
Q: What chemicals are bad for a septic tank?
The use of chemicals such as oil-based paint, paint thinners, lubricants, gasoline, weed killers, foaming cleansers, and chlorine-based cleaners can cause damage to your septic tank. They have the potential to pollute the surrounding environment as well as destroy the bacteria that are necessary for waste breakdown inside the septic tank, making it difficult or impossible for matter to degrade. Septic systems are well-understood by professionals. Link up with reputable professionals in your region and obtain free, no-obligation quotations for your project.+
ANATOMY OF A SEPTIC TANK CLEANING
Daily, all of the wastewater that leaves your home through drains such as those in your toilet, sinks, and other plumbing fixtures eventually ends up in your septic tank. Some of the waste is separated and eventually filtered back into the surrounding environment, but the majority of it remains in the septic tank for several months. And sooner or later, all of the garbage will have to be disposed of. This is where the service of septic tank pumping comes in. Although septic tank pumping is a messy and time-consuming chore, it is one that must be completed at some point in time.
- HOW DOES IT COME OUT OF YOUR SEPTIC TANKA?
- Solids are destined to sink to the bottom of the tank and eventually settle there, but oils and fats float to the top of the tank and accumulate there, forming a scum layer.
- This material is finally discharged into a drain field, where a combination of microorganisms, sand, and coarse gravel aid in the breakdown and filtering out of harmful bacteria and viruses as the wastewater percolates through the soil and into the drainage system.
- Septic tank pumping is primarily concerned with the removal of solid sludge and scum that has accumulated inside the septic tank after it has been filled.
- WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WASTE IS PUSHED OUT The first step in getting your septic tank cleaned is to locate a septic tank pumping professional that is licensed and skilled in the field.
Following the scheduling of an appointment, you may anticipate the following events to take place on the day of your visit:
- If there are any access ports on the top of the septic tank, your septic tank pumping professional will make an attempt to uncover them. It is necessary to dig and expose the access ports if they are buried underground before the pumping process can commence. After the access ports have been opened, the pumping specialist will lower a heavy-duty hose into each of the openings. When the vacuum truck arrives, it will be able to suck up the solid and liquid waste that has accumulated in each region of the septic tank. Using a septage spoon to dislodge and remove any leftover waste, the pumping professional may then rinse the tank with water to ensure that all effluent has been removed
- Once the majority of the muck has been removed A pumping professional can check the septic tank itself once it has been completely emptied. Your professional will search for evidence of deterioration, such as cracks and broken baffles, and then take appropriate action.
According to the size of the tank, the kind and amount of manpower necessary, as well as the capacity of a vacuum truck, how long it takes to completely pump out a septic tank is typically determined by these factors: Excavation and pumping of a septic tank are usually completed in roughly five hours in the majority of situations. WASTE DISPOSALAfter the “honey wagon” has driven out into the sunset with its load in tow, the typical householder is no longer required to participate in the waste disposal process.
The onboard effluent must be transferred to a location where it may be evacuated, which is often a sewage lagoon or a wastewater treatment facility.
The frequency with which you’ll need to have your septic tank pumped out is determined by the size of your tank and the number of individuals who use it on a regular basis.
When you want septic tank service, don’t hesitate to contact the experts atPete’s Outflow Technicians for assistance.
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.
A Beginner’s Guide to Septic Systems
- Septic systems are used to dispose of waste from homes and buildings. Identifying the location of the septic tank and drainfield
- What a Septic System Is and How It Works Keeping a Septic System in Good Condition
- Signs that a septic system is failing include:
Septic systems, also known as on-site wastewater management systems, are installed in a large number of buildings and houses. It is easy to lose sight of septic systems, which operate quietly, gracefully, and efficiently to protect human and environmental health due to their burying location. Septic systems are the norm in rural regions, but they may also be found in a lot of metropolitan places, especially in older buildings. It is critical to understand whether or not your building is on a septic system.
Is Your Home or Building on a Septic System?
It is possible that the solution to this question will not be evident. If a structure looks to be connected to a sewage system, it may instead be connected to a septic system. It is fairly unusual for tenants to be unaware of the final destination of the wastewater generated by their residence. Some of the hints or signs listed below will assist in determining whether the facility is served by a septic system or whether it is supplied by a sewer system:
- Sewer service will be provided at a cost by the city or municipality. Pay close attention to the water bill to see whether there is a cost labeled “sewer” or “sewer charge” on it. If there is a fee for this service, it is most likely because the facility is connected to a sewage system. Look up and down the street for sewage access ports or manholes, which can be found in any location. If a sewage system runs in front of a property, it is probable that the house is connected to it in some way. Inquire with your neighbors to see if they are connected to a sewer or septic system. The likelihood that your home is on a sewer system is increased if the properties on each side of you are on one as well. Keep in mind, however, that even if a sewage line runs in front of the structure and the nearby residences are connected to a sewer system, your home or building may not be connected to one. If the structure is older than the sewer system, it is possible that it is still on the original septic system. Consult with your local health agency for further information. This agency conducts final inspections of septic systems to ensure that they comply with applicable laws and regulations. There is a possibility that they have an archived record and/or a map of the system and will supply this information upon request
All property owners should be aware of whether or not their property is equipped with an on-site wastewater treatment system. Georgia law mandates that the property owner is responsible for the correct operation of a septic system, as well as any necessary maintenance and repairs.
Locating the Septic Tank and Drainfield
Finding a septic system may be a difficult process. They can be buried anywhere in the yard, including the front, back, and side yards. After a few years, the soil may begin to resemble the surrounding soil, making it impossible to distinguish the system from the surrounding soil. It is possible that in dry weather, the grass will be dryer in the shallow soil over the tank and greener over the drainfield, where the cleansed water will be released, but this is not always the case, especially in hot weather.
- The contractor who built the house should have presented the initial owner with a map showing the tank and drainfield locations, according to the building code.
- The installation of the system, as well as any modifications made to it, would have been examined by your local health authority.
- Unfortunately, if the system is very old, any records related with it may be insufficient or nonexistent, depending on the situation.
- Look for the point at where the wastewater pipes join together if the building is on a crawlspace or has an unfinished basement.
- The sewer line that runs through the structure is referred to as the building sewer.
- To “feel” for the tank, use a piece of re-bar or a similar metal probe.
- If you use this free service, you may avoid accidentally putting a rod through your gas or water line.
Try to locate the tank after a rainstorm, when the metal probe will be more easily maneuvered through moist dirt.
This should be done with care; extreme caution should be exercised to avoid puncturing the building sewer.
A tank is normally 5 by 8 feet in size, however the dimensions might vary.
Be aware that there may be rocks, pipes, and other debris in the area that “feels” like the tank but is not in fact part of the tank.
However, it is possible to have the lid or access port positioned on a riser in addition to being on the same level as the top of the tank in some cases.
Once the tank has been identified, make a rough drawing of its placement in relation to the house so that it will not be misplaced again!
It may be easier to discover the drainage lines now that the tank has been identified, particularly if the area has been subjected to prolonged periods of drought.
How a Septic System Works
Typical sewage treatment system (figure 1). It is composed of three components (Figure 1): the tank, the drain lines or discharge lines, and the soil treatment area (also known as the soil treatment area) (sometimes called a drainfield or leach field). The size of the tank varies according to the size of the structure. The normal home (three bedrooms, two bathrooms) will often include a 1,000-gallon water storage tank on the premises. Older tanks may only have one chamber, however newer tanks must have two chambers.
- The tank functions by settling waste and allowing it to be digested by microbes.
- These layers include the bottom sludge layer, the top scum layer, and a “clear” zone in the center.
- A typical septic tank is seen in Figure 2.
- It is fortunate that many of the bacteria involved are found in high concentrations in the human gastrointestinal tract.
- Although the bacteria may break down some of the stuff in the sludge, they are unable to break down all of it, which is why septic tanks must be cleaned out every three to seven years.
- In addition, when new water is introduced into the septic tank, an equal volume of water is pushed out the discharge lines and onto the drainfield.
- The water trickles out of the perforated drain pipes, down through a layer of gravel, and into the soil below the surface (Figure 3).
- A typical drainfield may be found here.
- Plants, bacteria, fungus, protozoa, and other microorganisms, as well as bigger critters such as mites, earthworms, and insects, flourish in soil.
- Mineralogical and metallic elements attach to soil particles, allowing them to be removed from the waste water.
Maintaining a Septic System
The most typical reason for a septic system to fail is a lack of proper maintenance. Septic systems that are failing are expensive to repair or replace, and the expense of repairs rests on the shoulders of the property owner (Figure 4). Fortunately, keeping your septic system in good working order and avoiding costly repairs is rather simple. Figure 4. Septic system failure is frequently caused by a lack of proper maintenance. It is in your best interests to be aware of the location of the system, how it operates, and how to maintain it.
- You should pump the tank if you aren’t sure when the last time it was pumped.
- It is not permissible to drive or park over the tank or drainage field.
- No rubbish should be disposed of in the sink or the toilet.
- It’s important to remember that garbage disposals enhance the requirement for regular pumping.
- When designing a landscape, keep the septic system in mind.
- It is also not recommended to consume veggies that have been cultivated above drainfield lines (see Dorn, S.
- Ornamental Plantings on Septic Drainfields.
Any water that enters your home through a drain or toilet eventually ends up in your septic system.
Don’t put too much strain on the system by consuming a large amount of water in a short period of time.
Additives should not be used.
Various types of additives are available for purchase as treatment options, cleansers, restorers, rejuvenator and boosters, among other things.
To break up oil and grease and unclog drains, chemical additives are available for purchase.
Pumping out the septic tank is not eliminated or reduced by using one of these systems.
They remain floating in the water and travel into the drainfield, where they may block the pipes. Acids have the potential to damage concrete storage tanks and distribution boxes.
Signs a Septic System is Failing
A failed system manifests itself in the following ways:
- Signs that a system is in disarray include:
If you notice any of these indicators, you should notify your local health department immediately. An environmentalist from the health department can assist in identifying possible hazards. There are also listings of state-certified contractors available from the local health department, who may do repairs. Repairs or alterations to the system must be approved by the health department and examined by an inspector. Keep an eye out for any meetings that may take place between a health department inspector and a contractor to discuss repairs to your system.
- Household garbage that has not been properly handled is released into the environment when systems fail.
- It has the potential to pollute surrounding wells, groundwater, streams, and other sources of potable water, among other things.
- The foul odor emanating from a malfunctioning system can cause property values to plummet.
- Briefly stated, broken systems can have an impact on your family, neighbors, community, and the environment.
- Septic systems are an effective, attractive, and reasonably priced method of treating and disposing of wastewater.
Figures 2 and 3 reprinted with permission from: CIDWT. 2009. Installation of Wastewater Treatment Systems. Consortium of Institutes for Decentralized Wastewater Treatment. Iowa State University, Midwest Plan Service. Ames, IA.
History of the current status and revisions Published on the 15th of August, 2013. Published on March 28th, 2017 with a full review.