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What is a Septic Tank?

When it comes to household plumbing systems, there are only two options:

Sewer and Septic.

Sewer systems are run by the local governments, but septic systems are installed and managed by individuals on private property. The primary unit of a septic system is the septic tank. In this article, we will discuss what a septic tank is, how it works and what type of households would benefit from a septic tank rather than the traditional sewer system.  

septic tank e1549295596862What is a Septic Tank?

A septic tank is an underground container, the major component of a septic system. It is usually made of concrete, plastic, fiberglass or steel. Treatment of household wastewater takes place inside the septic tank. This is a process of biological decomposition and, eventually, drainage. A septic system sees to the safe disposal of waste water.  


How Does it Work?

septic tank cross section

The septic system is of a basic design. This underground, watertight container is usually made in a rectangular or round shape. Your septic tank is connected to two pipes, an inlet and an outlet. The inlet pipe will collect the water waste inside the septic tank. Over time, the solid and liquid waste will separate from one another. The outlet pipe, or drain field, then carries the processed wastewater from the septic tank. From here the water spreads evenly into the soil and watercourses.

 After some time has passed, three layers will begin to form: the top layer is comprised of oils and grease that floats above the waste, which is called scum. The middle layer is your wastewater with waste particles. The bottom layer is made up of heavier particles that settle down into sludge. From inside the tank, bacteria in the wastewater will begin to break down all the solid waste. The decomposition of the solid waste is very quick, which is what allows the liquids in the tank to separate and drain away easier. 

How Do you Maintain a Septic Tank?unknown

 Making sure that you have a properly maintained septic tank is very important, not just for you, but for your property and health. Depending on the size of your septic tank, you should have it cleaned every few years. Without these regular “checkups” septic tank damage could go unnoticed, resulting in the need for a new tank.

Why do I need to clean my septic tank?

Toxins and antibacterial substances can build up in the tank if it is not cleaned often, resulting in the elimination of the vital bacteria that is responsible for breaking down the waste in your septic tank. Another thing to be mindful of is that a lot of household keep cleancleaners will accumulate solid waste and sludge in the drain field lines and septic tank itself. This will inevitably lead to septic system failure by blocking the system and causing overflow into the watercourse or possibly out an access grate. None of which sounds like a fun time for anyone involved.  

The best thing you can do as a homeowner with a septic tank is to make sure that it is in prime condition for you and your family. Whether you just bought a house that has a septic tank system, or you’re building a home with one, make sure you know the last time it was cleaned.  

Do I need a Septic Tank?wishing well

Homes in rural areas or secluded sections of forested land would benefit most from a septic tank system. If your home is out of the hustle and bustle of the suburban lifestyle, it’s a good candidate for a septic system. Another common thing that homeowners with septic systems have is well water, these two things typically go hand in hand. Septic tanks are becoming more popular with the younger generation ready to buy homes because they are eco-friendly and efficient. Waste that is collected from your septic tank is organic, which means you can’t send it to a landfill. The heavy sludge, however, when removed by a company that is permitted to do so, can be taken to a landfill. Another option is to have the sludge  converted into fertilizers.  

Whether you are considering buying, building, or renting a property that has a septic tank, we can help. Give us a call today. We want to make the next step of your journey as a homeowner an easy one. 

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