In the United States, over 21 million homes use septic systems instead of sewer systems. Septic systems are important as they get rid of all your unwanted waste and break it down. If we didn’t have septic systems we’d still be using outhouses in our backyards.
You may enjoy the perks of the septic system, but you may not know the ins and outs. Below we’ll review how a septic tank works.
What is a Septic Tank?
Septic tanks are mainly used for individual homes that are spread far apart. This type of system will not work in cities. In urban areas, they use sewer systems instead.
You can get either single- or double-compartment tanks. These tanks will be made out of either concrete or fiberglass. Once you’ve chosen your tank, it’s buried underground.
You’ll use this tank to treat wastewater by separating liquids and solids.
How a Septic Tank Works
To start the process, water will leave your home and enter into the septic tank. When waste enters the tank, the solids will settle to the bottom and begin decomposing. This is done by bacteria that are naturally found in wastewater.
Any sewage/sludge remaining will need to be cleaned out at a later date.
Any grease or floating solids (effluent) are trapped in the tank by a baffle. This helps prevent the effluent from flowing out of the tank.
Any partially clarified wastewater in the tank moves into the drain field. The clarified wastewater sits in the middle of your tank while the effluent is at the top of the tank.
Attached to the septic tank is the drain field. A pipe runs through your home to your septic tank. Then, a second pipe runs from your septic tank to your drain field.
The drain field can also be known as a leach field, disposal field, mound, or soil absorption system. The drain field is underground and has either a layer of sand or gravel at the bottom of its trench. It uses pipes or drain tiles that help distribute the wastewater into the trench.
The waster water will slowly exit the pipes/tiles and go into the gravel/sand. Next, it’ll enter into the soil down below. Finally, the soil will filter the wastewater.
The septic tank takes care of 45% of the sewage treatment, while the drain field does 55% of the work.
Your drain field should last you around 15-20 years if you take care of it.
Your septic tank should be pumped about every 2-3 years to prolong the life of your tank and drain field. If you don’t regularly clean your septic tank and drain field it can lead to a system failure. The solid waste will begin to overflow and come out of the access grating or into the watercourse.
Do You Need a Septic System?
Now that you know how a septic tank works, you’ll have an easier time maintaining it. Always do regular checkups on your septic system to make sure it’s in working order. Dealing with a broken septic system is not a fun time.
Review our blog to learn how grease traps are cleaned.