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
Where does wastewater run out of a septic tank?
- All wastewater runs out of your house or facility through one main drainage pipe connected to your septic tank. Illustration 1. Sewer Pipe The septic tank is a water-tight container usually made of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene typically buried underground.
What is connected to a septic tank?
A septic tank will be connected with two pipes (for inlet and outlet). The inlet pipe is used to transport the water waste from the house and collect it in the septic tank. It is kept here long enough so that the solid and liquid waste is separated from each other. The second pipe is the outlet pipe.
Does the shower run into the septic 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.
Should bath water go into septic tank?
In MOST household septic systems, yes. Probably 98%+ of septic systems receive all of the waste water from the house – tub, shower, sinks, washing machine, dishwasher, etc.
Is kitchen drain connected to septic tank?
All drains in the home converge to a single pipe that leads to the septic tank buried outside. When the waste water from your toilet, shower, sinks and washing machine leave your house, it’s combined. When it hits the septic tank, however, it begins to separate.
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?
How do you tell if your septic tank is full?
How to tell your septic tank is full and needs emptying
- Pooling water.
- Slow drains.
- An overly healthy lawn.
- Sewer backup.
- Gurgling Pipes.
- Trouble Flushing.
What are the do’s and don’ts of a septic tank?
DON’T flush material that will not easily decompose, such as hair, diapers, cigarette butts, matches, or feminine hygiene products. DO conserve water to avoid overloading the system. They kill the bacteria needed to decompose wastes in the septic tank and drain field. DO use substitutes for household hazardous waste.
Should washing machine drain into septic tank?
Fortunately, most modern septic systems are entirely capable of handling wastewater from your washing machine, but irresponsible use can still cause serious problems in septic tanks and lines. Erring on the side of caution will help to prevent washing machines from causing serious damage to your septic system.
How much does it cost to pump a septic tank?
How much does it cost to pump out a septic tank? The average cost is $300, but can run up to $500, depending on your location. The tank should be pumped out every three to five years.
Does hair break down in a septic tank?
Why Hair is a Such a Problem It’s composed of tough strands of proteins similar to those in your fingernails, and it’s not easily broken down by bacteria. Even if it doesn’t for years in your septic tank, it’ll almost certainly last for longer than the 24-48 hours that it sits in your septic tank.
Can you overwhelm a septic system?
If the septic system is suddenly flooded from a large volume of water generated by a number of guests in a few hours, it can potentially overwhelm the tank and drain field capacity. Your septic tank or onsite waste water system requires about 24 hours for processing and settling out the solid inputs.
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 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.
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!
How often should a septic tank be emptied?
How Often Should I Empty My Septic Tank? To keep your sewage system running correctly, your septic tank needs to be pumped out or desludged every 1 -2 years. It is extremely important to keep your septic tank maintained.
Septic Systems and Surface Water
|1. Bathrooms and Kitchens||Wastewater from toilets, sinks, showers, and other appliances contains harmful bacteria, viruses, and nutrients that could contaminate nearby surface water sources. You can help reduce the amount of nutrients in your wastewater by limiting use of the garbage disposal and using phosphate-free detergents. Avoid flushing other chemicals or medications down the drain or toilet since they could also contaminate surface water sources.|
|2. Septic Tank||Wastewater generated in your home exits through a drainage pipe and into a septic tank. The septic tank is a buried, water-tight container that holds wastewater for separation and treatment. The solids settle to the bottom (sludge) and fats, oil and grease float to the top (scum). Microorganisms act to break down the sludge and destroy some of the contaminants in the wastewater. Your septic tank should be serviced and pumped on a regular basis to make sure it’s working properly.||Learn more about how your septic system works.|
|3. Drainfield||The drainfield is a shallow, covered trench made in the soil in your yard. Partially treated wastewater from the septic tank flows out through the drainfield, filters down through the soil and enters the groundwater. If the drainfield is overloaded with too much liquid or clogged with solids, it will flood and cause sewage to surface in your yard or back up into your home.||Learn more about maintaining your drainfield.|
|4. Wastewater Treatment in Soil||Filtering wastewater through the soil removes most bacteria and viruses (also known as pathogens) and some nutrients. While soil can treat many contaminants, it cannot remove all of them (e.g., medicines, cleaning products, other potentially harmful chemicals). If untreated wastewater surfaces in the yard, wastewater may contaminate the streams, lakes, or coastal waters near your home. Avoid putting chemicals or medications down the drain or toilet since they could end up in surface waters too.||Learn more about sources of and solutions to nutrient pollution.Learn more about preventing eutrophication.|
|5. Water Table||The water table is where you first hit water if you dig a hole into the ground.|
|6. Groundwater||The water below the water table is called groundwater. Groundwater flowing underneath a drainfield captures any remaining contaminants released from the septic system. A stream, lake, or coastal water is at greater risk of becoming contaminated if it is in the path of groundwater flow beneath the septic system.||Learn more about getting up to speed with protecting groundwater.|
|7. Nutrients in Surface Water (Nitrogen, Phosphorus)||When there are too many nutrients in surface water, they act as a fertilizer for fast-growing bacteria and algae. This rapid growth can cause algal blooms that can reduce water quality, kill aquatic animals and plants, and form toxins in the water. This process is called eutrophication. Harmful algal blooms (HABs) in lakes and streams can be toxic to humans and animals.Phosphorus: Depending on your soil type, phosphorus from wastewater can be absorbed and retained in the soil. Unabsorbed phosphorus can travel in groundwater toward a waterbody and become a source of contamination. Freshwater is more vulnerable to phosphorus pollution.Nitrogen: Some nitrogen may be removed as wastewater flows through the septic system and soil. But the remaining nitrogen can enter the underlying groundwater and flow towards a surface water body. If there are many septic systems in a small area, the nitrogen flowing through groundwater could overload a waterbody, causing eutrophication. Saltwater is more vulnerable to nitrogen pollution.||Learn more about harmful algal blooms and cyanobacteria.|
|8. Setback Distance||Most states or local governments require a specific horizontal distance (or setback) between a septic system and surface water bodies. If the soil where you live is sandy, or porous, you may want to place your septic system farther away than the minimum required distance. Contamination is less likely the farther away your septic system is from a body of water.||Consult your local health department about required setback distances in your area.|
|9. Streams, Lakes and Coastal Waters||Groundwater and surface water runoff flows into streams, lakes, and coastal waters. If this water contains contaminants, they can make their way into surface waters, causing eutrophication (see7). It’s important to keep surface waters healthy to use for recreation, fishing, and as a drinking water source.||Learn more about the environmental problem of nutrient pollution.Learn more about the effects of nutrient pollution.|
How Does a Septic Tank Work?
Mr. Fix-It-Up-For-The-Family You may save a lot of money if you understand how a sewage treatment system works—and what can go wrong—so that you can handle your own septic system maintenance.
How does a septic tank work?
Pumping the tank on a regular basis eliminates sludge and scum, which helps to keep a septic system in good working order. It is possible for a well-designed and well built septic system to last for decades, or it might collapse in a matter of years. It is entirely up to you as long as you can answer the question of how do septic tanks function. Healthy septic systems are very inexpensive to maintain, but digging up and replacing a septic system that has completely collapsed may easily cost tens of thousands in labor and material costs.
It’s critical to understand how a septic tank works in order to maintain one.
Let’s take a look below ground and observe what happens in a properly operating septic system, shall we?
Understand that a septic system is a cafeteria for bacteria
Bacteria are responsible for the proper operation of a septic system. They decompose garbage, resulting in water that is clean enough to safely trickle down into the earth’s surface. The entire system is set up to keep bacteria healthy and busy at all times. Some of them reside in the tank, but the majority of them are found in the drain field. 1. The septic tank is the final destination for all waste. 2. The majority of the tank is filled with watery waste, referred to as “effluent.” Anaerobic bacteria begin to break down the organic matter in the effluent as soon as it enters the system.
- A layer of sludge settles to the bottom of the container.
- Scum is mostly constituted of fats, greases, and oils, among other substances.
- Grease and oils float to the surface of the water.
- (5) A filter stops the majority of particles from reaching the exit pipe.
- The effluent is discharged into the drain field.
- Effluent is allowed to leak into the surrounding gravel because of holes in the drain septic field pipe.
- The garbage is completely decomposed by aerobic bacteria found in gravel and dirt.
- Potable water seeps into the groundwater and aquifer system from the surface.
Septic Tank Clean Out: Don’t abuse the system
Septic systems that have been correctly planned and constructed require just occasional ‘pumping’ to remove the sludge and scum that has built up inside the tank.
However, if you don’t understand how a septic tank works, you may unintentionally hurt or even destroy the system.
- Drains are used to dispose of waste that decomposes slowly (or not at all). Cigarette butts, diapers, and coffee grounds are all known to cause issues. Garbage disposers, if utilized excessively, can introduce an excessive amount of solid waste into the system. Lint from synthetic fibers is emitted from washing machine lint traps. This substance is not degraded by bacteria in the tank and drain septic field. Bacteria are killed by chemicals found in the home, such as disinfecting cleansers and antibacterial soaps. The majority of systems are capable of withstanding limited usage of these goods, but the less you use them, the better. When a large amount of wastewater is produced in a short period of time, the tank is flushed away too quickly. When there is too much sludge, bacteria’s capacity to break down waste is reduced. Sludge can also overflow into the drain field if there is too much of it. Sludge or scum obstructs the flow of water via a pipe. It is possible for tree and shrub roots to obstruct and cause harm to a drain field. Compacted soil and gravel prevent wastewater from seeping into the ground and deprive germs of oxygen. Most of the time, this is caused by vehicles driving or parking on the drain field.
Get your tank pumped…
Your tank must be emptied on a regular basis by a professional. Pumping eliminates the accumulation of sludge and scum that has accumulated in the tank, which has caused the bacterial action to be slowed. If you have a large tank, it may be necessary to pump it once a year; but, depending on the size of your tank and the quantity of waste you send through the system, you may go two or three years between pumpings. Inquire with your inspector about an approximate guideline for how frequently your tank should be pumped.
…but don’t hire a pumper until you need it
Inspections and pumping should be performed on a regular basis. However, if you’re not afraid of getting your hands dirty, you may verify the sludge level yourself with a gadget known as The Sludge Judge. It ranges in price from $100 to $125 and is commonly accessible on the internet. Once you’ve verified that your tank is one-third full with sludge, you should contact a professional to come out and pump it out completely.
Install an effluent filter in your septic system
Garbage from your home accumulates into three distinct strata. The septic filter is responsible for preventing blockage of the drain field pipes.
Septic tank filter close-up
The septic tank filter is responsible for capturing suspended particles that may otherwise block the drain field pipes. Obtain an effluent filter for your tank from your contractor and place it on the outflow pipe of your tank. (It will most likely cost between $50 and $100, plus labor.) This device, which helps to prevent sediments from entering the drain field, will need to be cleaned out on a regular basis by a contractor to maintain its effectiveness.
Solution for a clogged septic system
If your septic system becomes clogged and you find yourself having to clean the filter on a regular basis, you might be tempted to simply remove the filter altogether. Hold on to it. Solids, wastewater, and scum are separated into three levels in septic tanks, which allows them to function properly (see illustration above). Solids sink to the bottom of the container, where microbes breakdown them. The scum, which is made up of trash that is lighter than water, rises to the surface. In the drainage field, the middle layer of effluent leaves the tank and goes through an underground network of perforated pipes to the drainage field.
- Keep the effluent filter in place since it is required by your state’s health law.
- Waste particles might flow through the filter and clog the perforated pipes if the filter is not used.
- Your filter, on the other hand, should not require cleaning every six months.
- A good chance is high that you’re flushing filter-clogging things down the toilet, such as grease, fat, or food scraps.
- A garbage disposal will not be able to break down food particles sufficiently to allow them to flow through the septic tank filtration system.
- Plastic items, disposable diapers, paper towels, nonbiodegradable goods, and tobacco products will clog the system if they are flushed through it.
For additional information on what should and should not be flushed down the toilet, contact your local health authority. More information on removing lint from your laundry may be found here.
Get an inspection
The temptation to just remove the filter may arise if your septic system becomes blocked and you have to clean it on a regular basis. It should be preserved. Solids, effluent, and scum are separated into three levels in a septic tank, which allows waste to be separated into three layers (see illustration above). Microorganisms breakdown the particles that settle to the bottom of the tank. It is the scum that floats on top because it is made up of trash that is lighter than water. In the drainage field, the intermediate layer of effluent leaves the tank and is carried away by subterranean perforated pipes.
- Keep the effluent filter in place since your state’s health law mandates it.
- In addition, removing the filter may result in a far bigger (and more expensive) problem down the road.
- Cleaning and unclogging the system would need substantial digging.
- The majority of filters don’t need to be cleaned until the tank is pumped, which occurs every two to five years on average, and then only when necessary.
- Food disposal is an error that many people make.
- Solids can accumulate in a septic tank to levels as high as 50% more than normal.
- More information on what should not be flushed down the toilet can be obtained by contacting your local health authority.
Alternatives to a new drain field
If an examination or a sewage backup indicate that your drain field is in need of replacement, the only option is to replace it completely. As a result, it’s important to talk with a contractor about other possibilities before proceeding with the project.
- Pipes should be cleaned. A rotating pressure washer, used by a contractor, may be used to clean out the drain septic field pipes. The cost of “jetting” the pipes is generally around $200. Chemicals should be used to clean the system. A commercial solution (not a home-made one) that enhances the quantity of oxygen in the drain field should be discussed with your contractor before installing your new system. Septic-Scrub is a product that I suggest. A normal treatment will cost between $500 and $1,000. Make the soil more pliable. The practice of “terra-lifting,” which involves pumping high-pressure air into several spots surrounding the drain field, is authorized in some regions. Some contractors use it to shatter compacted dirt around the pipes. Depending on the circumstances, this might cost less than $1,000 or as much as $4,000 or more.
Protect your drain septic field from lint
When this device is in place, it inhibits lint from entering the system, especially synthetic fibers that bacteria are unable to digest. One of these filters, which I’ve designed and termed theSeptic Protector, was invented by me. An additional filter is included in the price of around $150 plus delivery. Learn more about how to filter out laundry lint in this article.
Don’t overload the septic system
Reduce the amount of water you use. The volume of water that flows into your tank, particularly over a short period of time, can be reduced to avoid untreated waste from being flushed into your drain field.
Replace outdated toilets with low-flow ones, install low-flow showerheads, and, perhaps most importantly, wash laundry throughout the week rather than just on Saturday mornings to save water.
Meet the Expert
Septic systems, according to Jim vonMeier, are the solution to America’s water deficit because they supply cleaned water to depleted aquifers, according to vonMeier. He travels the country lobbying for septic systems, giving lectures, and giving testimony. For septic system inquiries, as well as information on the operation of the septic tank, contact him by email.
Septic System Guide: How It Works and How to Maintain It
As soon as you flush the toilet in most metropolitan locations, the waste is pumped out to the nearest sewage treatment facility. Garbage is processed at this factory, which separates it into two types of waste: water that is clean enough to be dumped into a river and solids known as residual waste. The remaining material is either disposed of in landfill or utilized as fertilizer. Septic systems, which are used in places where there aren’t any sewage treatment plants, provide a similar function, but on a much smaller scale.
What are Septic Tanks and How Do They Work?
Septic tanks are normally composed of concrete or heavyweight plastic and have a capacity of 1000 to 2000 gallons, depending on the manufacturer. In the tank, there are two chambers that are divided by a portion of a wall. The waste from the residence is channeled into the bigger room. Solids sink to the bottom of the chamber, and liquids make their way through a partial wall into the smaller second chamber, which is located above it. Anaerobic bacteria, which are found naturally in the environment, digest the solids and convert them into water, carbon dioxide, and a tiny amount of indigestible debris.
Septic Fields Distribute Liquid Effluent
The second chamber has an output pipe via which the liquid (known as effluent) from the tank is discharged to a disposal or leach field, depending on the situation. It is drained into the earth by a network of perforated pipes or through perforated plastic structures known as galleries, which are constructed of perforated plastic. It is common practice to lay the pipe or galleries in a bed of gravel, which aids in dispersing the liquid. During the course of the effluent’s percolation through the soil, the soil absorbs remaining bacteria and particles, resulting in water that is safe to drink by the time the water reaches the aquifer deeper down.
They are not much deeper than that since a large quantity of water escapes through evaporation or is transpired by grass growing above ground.
If you have sandy soils that drain too rapidly, you may not be able to treat the wastewater properly.
Sometimes the water cannot be disposed of properly because the natural soils include a high concentration of silt or clay.
Topsoil and grass are applied to the mound, which allows more water to leave through transpiration and evaporation than would otherwise be possible.
Septic Systems Rely on Gravity, Most of the Time
The majority of septic systems rely on gravity to transfer the liquid from the home to the tank and then to the field where it will be disposed of. However, due to the slope of the land, the tank or the field may need to be higher than the house in some instances. It is necessary to have a pump, or occasionally two pumps, in order for this to operate. A grinder pump, which liquefies sediments and is installed in a pit in the basement or crawlspace of the home, will be used if the tank is higher than the house.
Sewage pumps are essentially large sump pumps that are used for heavy-duty applications.
How to Treat Your Septic System
It is not necessary to do much to keep your septic system in good working order, other than cut the grass above it and keep the drainage area free of trees and plants with roots that may block it.
How Often Do You Need to Pump A Septic Tank?
You should have a septic provider pump out the particles from your tank every two years, at the absolute least. A manhole at the surface of the tank will provide the pump operator access, but older systems may necessitate digging a hole in the tank’s top so the pumping hatch can be exposed. Unless the tank is continuously pumped, sediments will build up in it and ultimately make their way into the leach field, clogging it. You’ll know it’s occurring because untreated effluent will rise to the surface of the tank and back up into the home, causing it to overflow.
Pumping the tank on a regular basis can ensure that the leach fields continue to work eternally.
What to Do if Your Septic System Fails
Pumps in a pumped septic system will ultimately fail, just as they will in any mechanical system. Most pumps are equipped with an alarm that sounds when the effluent level in the pit is greater than it should be, indicating that the pump has failed and has to be replaced. This is a job that should be left to the professionals. Visit the following website to locate a trusted list of installation and septic system service companies in your area:
- The National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association’s Septic Locator
- The National Association of Wastewater Technicians
- And the National Association of Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association
It is rare for a homeowner to have to worry about their septic system because it is well-maintained and doesn’t cause problems. Simple maintenance, such as keeping the tank pumped and the lawn trimmed, should result in decades of trouble-free service. What kind of protection do you have in place for your home’s systems and appliances against unforeseen maintenance needs? If this is the case, you might consider purchasing a house warranty.
- Home Warranty Coverage for Roof Leaks
- Septic Warranty Coverage and Costs
- And more. Plans for protecting your mobile home’s warranty
- What Is Home Repair Insurance and How Does It Work? How to Find the Most Reasonably Priced Home Appliance Insurance
Everything You Need to Know About Your Septic Tank
What is a septic tank, and how does it work? A septic tank is a water-tight container that is often constructed of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene to prevent flooding (plastic). In fact, it is only one component of the entire septic system, which includes several other components such as a distribution box, pumps, float switches, aerators, filters, and other accessories. Septic systems are used to treat wastewater on-site in many rural and suburban areas that do not have access to centralized sewage systems.
If your home is equipped with a septic system, you will almost certainly discover a septic tank buried in your yard. The components of a conventional septic tank are depicted in the diagram below. A septic tank is made up of six major components. These are:
- The Tank: This is the water-tight tank into which wastewater from your house is sent once it has been collected. A hole, fracture, or any other structural damage should not be present. Access Ports: When a trained pumper comes to clean up your tank, they will utilize an access port. When it comes to tank cleaning, it is critical that the access port be large enough to allow the pumper to move the hose about within the tank properly. A common application for risers is to elevate septic tank access above ground level, eliminating the need to dig up your septic tank every time it has to be pumped. Last but not least, the access port should be securely secured with a child-resistant lid. It is vital for the protection of your family that septic tank lids are securely fastened with screws and that they are not cracked or damaged. Pipes for entering and exiting the septic tank: Wastewater from your house enters the septic tank through the intake pipe. After the particles have settled out, the effluent is discharged from the septic tank through the exit pipe and into the drainage field. There should be roughly 3 inches between the output pipe and the intake pipe. A baffle is fitted on the intake pipe within the tank, and it serves to keep the water out. It provides a variety of functions. Additionally, it helps to avoid the build-up of scum and its backup into the intake pipe It is also important for solids to settle in the tank that the input baffle be properly installed. When wastewater enters the septic tank, it should hit the entrance baffle, which will reduce the flow and prevent the tank from becoming agitated. This permits the contents of the septic tank to remain at rest, allowing the solids to sink to the bottom of the tank. The intake baffle can also prevent odorous odors from entering the sewage line and spreading throughout the home or business
- And It is even more crucial than the inlet baffle to have an exit baffle in place because it helps to prevent scum and other particles from flowing directly into the outflow pipe and eventually into the drain field. Gas Deflector/Effluent Filter: As gas bubbles climb to the top of a septic tank, they may bring sediments with them. This is why an effluent filter is used. A gas deflector prevents these solid-carrying gases from entering the output line by preventing them from entering. However, while not every septic tank is equipped with an effluent filter, it is strongly suggested as an additional safety to prevent particulates from entering your drain field.
Any of the above-mentioned components in your septic tank should be checked for damage or missing parts as soon as possible, and the problem should be resolved by a septic system specialist. What is the operation of a septic tank? Each and every drop of wastewater from your home is channeled via a main drainage pipe and into your septic tank. Solids are prevented from entering your drain field by using the septic tank, which is just a settling tank that serves as a filter. Ideally, the water should be kept in the tank for at least one day in order to enable time for the solids to settle.
- Heavy materials, such as dirt and digested waste, will sink to the bottom of the tank and form a sludge layer at the bottom of the tank.
- Effluent is the term used to describe the liquid that exists between the sludge and scum layers.
- It is critical that solids are given adequate time and space to settle before being used.
- In fact, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection mandates a minimum capacity of 900 gallons for any new septic tank installations in the state (the table below shows recommended septic tank capacities for different sized homes).
- Ideally, you should have your septic tank emptied every two to three years, according to the Pennsylvania Septage Management Association (PSMA).
- If a drain field has been ruined by a buildup of sediments, it might cost tens of thousands of dollars to rebuild it.
- It is crucial to understand that your septic tank must be completely filled with liquid in order to function effectively.
- The septic tank diagram shown above depicts the correct operating level of a septic tank in a residential setting.
- The result is that whenever more wastewater is added to the tank, an equal volume of effluent will be discharged from the tank and drain into the drain field.
- The opposite is true if the liquid level is higher than the outflow line, which may signal a blockage in a line downstream from the septic tank or in the drain field.
If you’re wondering if your septic tank is full, a skilled pumper will consider it “full” once solids have filled one-third of the tank’s capacity. This is the time of year when your septic tank will need to be pumped.
Your Septic System – Water Programs – University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
The tank and the drain field are the two most important components of a septic system (sometimes called a leach field). In Florida, approximately one out of every three families is reliant on a septic system for sanitation. It is estimated that well over 2.5 million systems are in operation across the state, according to UF/IFAS researchers. The tank is a watertight container that is buried beneath the surface of the earth. Solids and other materials are distinguished in this section. Solids sink to the bottom of the tank and become sludge, while oils and grease float to the top of the tank and become oil.
The middle layer is made up of liquid wastewater.
Solids can accumulate in your septic tank despite the fact that bacteria are continually breaking down the organic materials in your tank.
Otherwise, solid material from the tank may flow into the drain field pipes and clog them, preventing them from draining properly.
Lifespan of Your Septic System
Septic tanks may endure for up to 30 years if they are properly maintained. Tanks should be pumped every three to five years to ensure that they are in perfect functioning condition and that difficulties do not arise from their use. This time frame might vary depending on a variety of factors, including the size of the tank, the number of people living in your home, and the amount of wastewater produced by your residence.
Septic System Concerns
The graphic shows a section-view of an advanced septic system beneath a residential home | UF/IFAS Photo Water from the home, also known as sewage, contains pollutants such as pathogens (bacteria and other microbes), nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus), and trace organic substances such as medications, common household chemicals, and pesticides, among others. These have the potential to be hazardous to human health and the environment. The proper treatment of wastewater is essential, and septic systems may be an efficient method of on-site wastewater treatment when installed properly.
Because of their widespread usage since the 1940s, conventional septic systems are still in use today.
They also have a positive impact on the environment by eliminating pathogens and safeguarding human health.
Only around 30% of the nitrogen that comes into a normal septic tank is removed by the tank’s bacteria.
Therefore, even a well-kept system will become a source of excess nitrogen (especially nitrate-nitrogen) to the surrounding soil in the drainfield, which can seep into groundwater if not properly managed.
- Find out more about the fate of nitrogen, phosphorus, bacteria and protozoa, viruses, and trace organic chemicals in septic systems by reading this article.
Excess nutrients and hazardous organisms such as E. coli are released into the environment by failed septic systems, resulting in an unpleasant odor and contamination of groundwater, private and public supply wells, and regional water bodies. System failure can be avoided if proper maintenance is performed on them.
Signs of a Failing Septic System
If you detect bad odors emanating from drains within your home or near the septic tank and drain field, it is possible that your septic system is deteriorating. Other problems that you can encounter include poor draining from the tub or shower and from the kitchen or bathroom sinks. Additionally, you may see standing water or overly-saturated soil in the vicinity of your septic tank, which should be addressed immediately. If this is the case, you should contact a licensed septic tank contractor to examine your septic tank system.
Septic System Maintenance
Pumping out your septic system should only be done by a trained and certified expert. However, there are steps you can do to guarantee that the system continues to function well throughout the year. Specifically, only toilet paper and human waste should be flushed down the toilet in this situation. Items such as napkins, face tissues, cotton swabs, “flushable” wipes, and cigarette butts should never be flushed down the toilet. Additionally, it is advisable not to spill oil or fat down the kitchen sink drain.
- Excess organic matter will not be able to accumulate within your septic tank if you follow these instructions.
- You should also consider water conservation measures.
- Repairing leaks, installing low-flow showerheads and toilets, and running washing machines and dishwashers at full capacity are all examples of water saving strategies.
- In the event that septic systems get inundated, as might occur in Florida following severe rain and storms, certain precautions must be taken.
- This is the most effective action you can take.
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 provider on average every two or three years. An further visual inspection of the component is often performed at the same time by a qualified specialist
- Call a specialist as soon as you see any signs of impending failure (as indicated below)! The sooner you contact, the less expensive a repair may be
Image courtesy of istockphoto.com
4. How do you find the best septic system inspector?
Once an offer on a home is made, the deal is nearly always subject on the outcome of a thorough inspection of the property, which includes an examination of the septic system. Important to remember is that what is stated on a seller’s disclosure form is not a substitute for a thorough inspection of the property being offered for sale. The average homeowner does not have the necessary knowledge or equipment to conduct a thorough inspection of the system. If there are concealed issues, it is possible that the homeowner will not be aware of them.
- One of the most common types of house inspection is a general home inspection, which evaluates the structure of the home, systems within it (such as plumbing and electricity), roof condition, and maybe some of the external features.
- As a result, always seek the services of a septic system specialist for an inspection.
- Your neighbors and real estate agent may be able to provide you with a few decent leads.
- To begin, contact each possible inspector and ask them about their approach to the task; for example, some may use cameras to evaluate the distribution box and drainfield, while others may dig to complete their inspection.
- Once the inspection has begun, the expert will search for pumping and maintenance records, examine for signs of leakage or backup, measure the levels of sludge and scum, and determine the age of the tank, among other things.
- Depending on whether or not the property includes extensions that were built after the septic tank was originally installed, an inspector may give recommendations to make the residence more sanitary.
For example, a two-bedroom home will require a tank of a different capacity than a three-bedroom home will. Image courtesy of istockphoto.com
5. What are the signs that a septic system needs to be replaced?
It is critical to notice the warning symptoms of impending failure before they manifest themselves. For the most part, failure of a septic system goes unnoticed at first. Keeping an eye out for warning indicators will help you arrange a replacement before something goes wrong.
- Gurgling noises coming from outside sewers
- Interior drains in bathtubs and sinks that are slow to drain
- Odors emanate from the sewage treatment plant, drainfield or inside drains of the house. There are wet places visible over the drainfield. Water is backing up into the home from the sewer line. Toilets are flushing more slowly
- This is a problem. A sudden and dramatic increase in the amount of lush and full vegetation over the drainfield might indicate a probable obstruction or break in the exit pipes outside.
Image courtesy of istockphoto.com
Septic systems, which are used in around 20% of homes in the United States, are designed to remove effluent from a residence. While septic systems may need a bit more maintenance than utilizing a public sewage system, they are not nearly as difficult to maintain as their reputation would have you believe. A well-maintained septic system may survive up to 40 years if it is inspected on a regular basis and kept on the lookout for indicators of potential problems. It is critical for homebuyers contemplating a property with a septic system to have the system inspected by a professional before making an offer.
FAQs About Septic Tanks and Septic Systems
When it comes to septic systems, there is a lot to understand. Even after reviewing the information provided above, you may still have concerns regarding how septic systems operate and how to properly manage them. Answers to some frequently asked questions concerning septic systems are provided here.
Q: How does a septic tank work?
When sewage is discharged into a septic tank, the solid stuff descends to the bottom, where it is colonized by helpful anaerobic bacteria, which work to break down the solids and liberate the lipids contained within them. The byproducts rise to the surface of the tank and are separated by a series of baffles.
Q: What are the three types of septic systems?
Traditional septic systems are classified into three types: chamber septic systems, drip distribution systems, and septic systems with chambers. In most cases, conventional systems are employed in residential buildings. Typically, a chamber system is used in high water table settings due to the fact that it is comprised of a succession of closed compartments. Drip systems are often less difficult to install, but they require more upkeep.
Q: How many years does a septic system last on average?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a well managed septic system may survive for 40 years. It is essential that you get the septic system evaluated before to purchasing a property so that you can get an estimate of how long the septic system is projected to operate.
Q: What is the alternative to a septic tank?
An aerobic treatment system, composting waste, and a drip system are all options for replacing a septic tank in a residential setting.
Q: What chemicals are bad for a septic tank?
The use of chemicals such as oil-based paint, paint thinners, lubricants, gasoline, weed killers, foaming cleansers, and chlorine-based cleaners can cause damage to your septic tank. They have the potential to pollute the surrounding environment as well as destroy the bacteria that are necessary for waste breakdown inside the septic tank, making it difficult or impossible for matter to degrade. Septic systems are well-understood by professionals. Link up with reputable professionals in your region and obtain free, no-obligation quotations for your project.+
3 Signs Your Septic System Is Full
It is necessary to pump away the waste that accumulates in septic tanks when they reach capacity. If you are a homeowner whose home is serviced by a septic system, you should be aware of the signs that indicate a septic system is full. Discover the three telltale indications to keep an eye out for. 1. Pools of stagnant water are formed. When water collects near a septic tank and there is no evident reason for it to be there, a full septic tank is the most probable culprit to blame. This is especially true if there hasn’t been any rain in a while or if the water contains visible waste.
- The drainfield is a network of pipes that drains water that has passed through the system and into the soil underneath the system.
- But if your septic tank gets overflowing with solid waste, the sludge may begin to seep into the pipes leading to your drainfield.
- After the water has entered the field, it will not flow through the pipes in the manner intended and will instead pool in a specific region.
- Due to the likelihood that the water is polluted with human waste, you should avoid the area until you can adequately resolve the issue.
- You may check for potential problems by occasionally sniffing the air surrounding your septic tank and drainfield to see if anything is wrong.
- In reality, it has an unpleasant odor due to the fact that it is contaminated with kitchen waste, human waste, and general wastewater.
If you discover a foul odor around your septic tank and drainfield, however, the odor indicates that gases are escaping from the drainfield and should be investigated.
The fact that they are present is a warning that your septic tank is beginning to fill up.
However, the trash will not be disposed of in the drainfield immediately.
Because no pipes will need to be unclogged, the service will be kept as easy as possible.
When only one drain becomes sluggish, it is likely that a clog has formed in the pipes that are directly linked to that drain.
Instead, it has spread throughout the majority of your home, and it may even be in your septic system.
Without immediate action, the situation will only deteriorate and become far more serious If this is the case, you should pump your septic tank as soon as you possibly can. If you need to have an aseptic tank pumped out, call Pete’s Outflow Technicians for assistance.
HOW EXCESSIVE WATER AFFECTS YOUR SEPTIC TANK AND WHAT TO DO
Septic systems are built with a certain capacity in mind, which is determined by the quantity of water used in a household. By exceeding this capacity, the system’s ability to handle wastewater can be severely compromised, perhaps resulting in the pollution of drinking water sources. Indoor and outdoor water consumption should be regulated to avoid overloading your septic tank, which will also help to extend the life of your tank. Find out more about septic tank overload and simple ways to conserve water while yet safeguarding your septic system by continuing reading.
When functioning correctly, a septic tank should allow solid waste to settle to the bottom of the tank and microbes to break down organic waste in order to provide nutrients for the garden.
A septic system that is overloaded does not enable sediments to settle properly and does not allow for the essential bacterial activity.
An excessively high flow rate of wastewater might also reduce the amount of bacteria present in the tank, resulting in insufficient wastewater treatment.
Here are a couple of suggestions to get you started.
If you’re in the market for a new washer, consider a front-loading model, which is more energy and water efficient than a top-loading model, according to Energy Star.
However, make an effort to launder your clothes more frequently, preferably several times a week.
Reduce the amount of shower water wasted.
Consider taking fewer and shorter showers, as well as shutting off the water while you are lathering, in order to conserve more water.
Reduce the amount of water you flush down the toilet.
To reduce waste, consider flushing the toilet numerous times before using it for the first time.
If you have older toilets that tend to use a lot of water, consider replacing them with modern, water-efficient toilets to see a considerable reduction in your water usage over time.
Toilet leaks account for a significant portion of water waste in the average household.
Lawn Maintenance Should Be Conscientious For your landscape requirements, drip irrigation may be an option.
Make sure to check your irrigation system for leaks that are wasting water and to create a watering plan that corresponds to your irrigation requirements.
Consume Water Only When Necessary Considering watering your lawn and garden less frequently in the mornings or late at night when evaporation is lowest, you can save money on your water bills.
Once your septic tank has been repaired or pumped, it is important to save water in order to extend the tank’s lifespan.
Pete’s Outflow Technicians can assist you in keeping your septic system in good working order throughout the year. Get in contact with us right now to learn more about our products and services.