How Does a Septic Tank Work?
Answer the question of how does a septic tank work with these septic tank diagrams and expert advice.
Save big money by understanding how does a septic tank work—and what can go wrong—so you can perform your own septic arrangement maintenance.
Reading: How Does a Septic Tank Work?
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How does a septic tank work?
Septic tank pumping: How does a septic tank work?
regular ‘ pumping ’ removes sludge and scum from the tank, helping to keep a septic system in lead form .
A well-designed, by rights installed septic system can last for decades—or fail in just a few years. It ’ s up to you equally long as you can answer how perform septic systems tanks ferment .
Maintaining healthy septic systems international relations and security network ’ metric ton all that expensive, but you could well spend tens of thousands to dig up and replace a septic arrangement that has wholly failed. As the old pronounce goes, an snow leopard of prevention is worth a lumber of remedy. It ’ mho authoritative to learn how does a septic tank car work .
good alimony starts with understanding how does a septic system work and how it can fail. Let ’ s take a look underground and see what ’ s supposed to happen in a well-functioning septic system. After that, I ’ ll show you why things go improper and give you some pointers for keeping your system in clear shape .
Understand that a septic system is a cafeteria for bacteria
Bacteria are what makes a septic system work. They break down waste, leaving water uninfected enough to safely percolate down into the earth. The whole system is designed to keep bacteria healthy and busy. Some live in the tank, but most do their work in the drain field .
1. All barren flows to the septic tank.
2. Watery waste, called “ effluent, ” fills most of the tank. Anaerobic bacteria begin breaking down the organic material in the effluent.
3. A layer of sludge falls to the penetrate. Sludge is composed of inorganic solids and the byproducts of bacterial digestion.
4. A layer of trash floats to the exceed. Scum is primarily composed of fats, greases and oils .
The septic tank acts like a settle pond. Greases and oils float to the top. Heavier solids sink to the bottom.
5. A filter prevents most solids from entering the mercantile establishment pipe.
6. effluent flows to the enfeeble field .
The drain septic field provides a big sphere where bacteria can thrive and treat urine can seep into the background.
7. Holes in the drain septic field pipe give up effluent to seep into surrounding annoy .
Gravel around pipes allows urine to flow into dirt and oxygen to reach bacteria.
8. aerobic bacteria in annoy and territory dispatch decomposition of the barren.
9. clean water seeps down into the groundwater and aquifer .
Septic Tank Clean Out: Don’t abuse the system
A septic system that was by rights designed and installed needs lone casual ‘ pumping ’ to remove the sludge and scum from the tank. But without knowing how does a septic tank workplace, you can do things that harm—or destroy—the system .
- Waste that decomposes slowly (or not at all) gets flushed down drains. Cigarette butts, diapers and coffee grounds often cause problems.
- If used heavily, garbage disposers can send too much solid waste into the system.
- Lint from synthetic fibers flows from washing machines. Bacteria in the tank and drain septic field can’t break it down.
- Household chemicals like disinfecting cleaners and antibacterial soaps kill bacteria. Most systems can handle light use of these products, but the less you use them, the better.
- Too much wastewater over a short period of time flushes out the tank too rapidly.
- Too much sludge reduces bacteria’s ability to break down waste. Excess sludge can also overflow into the drain field.
- Sludge or scum plugs holes in the pipe.
- Roots from trees and shrubs can clog and damage a drain field.
- Compacted soil and gravel block seepage of effluent and deprive bacteria of oxygen. This is often caused by cars driving or parking on the drain field.
Get your tank pumped…
‘The Sludge Judge’
Your tank must be pumped out regularly by a pro .
Pumping removes the buildup of sludge and scum, which slows down bacterial military action in the tank. Your tank may need pumping each year, but it ’ s potential to go two or three years between pumpings, depending on the size of your tank and the come of waste you run through the system. Ask your examiner to make a pugnacious recommendation for how frequently your tank should be pumped .
…but don’t hire a pumper until you need it
Septic tank pumping
regular inspections and pumping are critical. But if you ’ re not dainty, you can check the sludge level yourself with a device called The Sludge Judge. It costs $ 100 to $ 125 and is wide available on-line. Once you ’ ve determined that your tank car is one-third wide of sludge, call a contractor to come pump it out.
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Install an effluent filter in your septic system
Septic tank diagram
waste from your house settles into three layers. The septic filter keeps the drain battlefield pipes from clogging .
Septic tank filter close-up
The septic tank trickle catches suspended particles which can clog the drain field pipes .
Ask your contractor to install an effluent trickle on the outflow pipe on your tank. ( It will credibly cost $ 50 to $ 100, plus labor. ) This device helps prevent solids from entering the enfeeble field and will need to be cleaned out on affair by a contractor .
Solution for a clogged septic system
If your septic system becomes clogged and you frequently have to clean the filter, you might be tempted to just remove it. Keep it. septic tanks sour by allowing waste to separate into three layers : solids, effluent and trash ( see exemplification above ). The solids settle to the bottom, where microorganisms decompose them. The trash, composed of waste that ’ s lighter than water system, floats on top. The middle layer of effluent exits the tank car and travels through underground perforated pipes into the drain field. There, annoy and dirt dissemble as biological filters to purify the effluent as it sinks into the crunch ( see exemplification above ) .
Your state of matter health code requires an effluent filter, so keep it in plaza. ( not all regional codes require this filter. ) Besides, removing the percolate could create a far worse ( and expensive ) problem. Without the filter, waste particles could pass into the penetrate pipes and clog them. It would require across-the-board dig to clean and unclog the system .
however, your percolate should not need semiannual clean. Most filters don ’ t have to be cleaned until the tank is pumped, which is typically every two to five years. Chances are you ’ re putting filter-clogging materials down your drain, such as grease, fat or food scraps .
The consumption of a food disposer is a coarse error. A disposer won ’ metric ton break down food particles adequate to allow them to pass through the septic tank percolate. It can increase the amount of solids in the septic tank by adenine a lot as 50 percentage. Flushing fictile materials, disposable diapers, wallpaper towels, nonbiodegradable products and tobacco will besides clog the system .
For more details on what not to put down your drain, call your state health department. Read more on filtering out troublesome laundry lint .
Get an inspection
A exhaustive initial inspection by a pro will cost $ 300 to $ 500 ; after that, regular inspections cost less than $ 100 each. Your pro will be able to tell you how often your system should be inspected and how does a septic tank make .
simpleton as a septic system may seem, evaluating its health truly requires an adept. There are enough of contractors who will gladly pump the sludge out of your tank car, but in my experience many can ’ t in full answer how does a septic arrangement workplace or how it should be maintained. I highly recommend looking for a contractor who has received some ball discipline in the science of septic systems. Some states have adopted authentication programs for septic contractors—check with your Secretary of State ’ second position to see if yours is among them .
A complete inspection will determine whether your system is up to code ( many are not ) and the condition of the tank and drain field. A full inspector will besides be able to tell you whether your tank car is large enough for your family, and the maximum volume of water you can pass through it in a day .
You may be able to improve the performance of your arrangement by adding bacteria with a merchandise such as RID-X. Your pro should be able to tell you if your system will benefit from this treatment as you discover how does a septic tank make .
Alternatives to a new drain field
If an inspection or sewage backup reveals that your drain field is in trouble, the ultimate solution is to replace it. The cost can be huge, however, so it ’ mho worth discussing other options with a contractor.
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- Clean the pipes. A contractor can clear out the drain septic field pipes with a rotary pressure washer. “Jetting” the pipes usually costs about $200.
- Treat the system with chemicals. Ask your contractor about treating your system with a commercial product (not a homemade one) that increases the amount of oxygen in the drain field. I recommend Septic-Scrub. A typical treatment costs $500 to $1,000.
- Loosen the soil. In states where it’s legal, some contractors can fracture compacted soil around the pipes by injecting high-pressure air in numerous locations around the drain field, a process called “terra-lifting.” Depending on the situation, this can cost less than $1,000 or more than $4,000.
Protect your drain septic field from lint
Install a filter on your washing machine’s drain
This device prevents lint from entering the system, peculiarly the synthetic fibers that bacteria can ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate digest. I ’ ve develop one of these filters myself and named it the Septic Protector. It costs about $ 150, plus transportation, and includes a refilling percolate. Find out more about how to filter out laundry lint .
Don’t overload the septic system
Limit your water use. Reducing the amount of body of water that runs into your tank, peculiarly over a short time period of time, will prevent the blush of untreated neutralize into your drain plain. You can replace previous toilets with low-flow models, install reduced-flow showerheads, and simplest of all, slipstream laundry throughout the workweek rather than just on Saturday dawn .
Meet the Expert
Jim vonMeier believes septic systems are the answer to America ’ mho water deficit because they deliver purify body of water to depleted aquifers. He travels the country advocating, lecturing and testifying on septic systems. If you have a septic system question and want to know how does a septic tank knead, write to him .
Category : How To
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