While most homeowners, even new ones, grasp the fact that their septic system is designed to accept and safely process the waste water and solids produced by the occupants of their home, many may not know how that process actually works. Since even large septic tanks have a finite capacity that will be reached at some point, it is important that every homeowner with an on-site septic system fully understands how these waste treatment options work so that they can properly maintain them. If you are new to owning both a home and a septic system, the following information will give you the knowledge and confidence you need to manage the waste disposal needs of your family.
The basic design and purpose of a septic tank
While the type, size, and location of the components may differ due to the needed capacity, soil composition, and available area, the typical septic system includes a pipe to move the waste from the home, a septic tank to receive and process it, and a drain field to allow wastewater to be absorbed into the soil.
If the septic system was designed and installed properly, it is able to process solid waste over a period of time while allowing effluent to continuously be carried out to the drain field. As the effluent is pushed out of the perforated pipes of the drain field, it is filtered by layers of soil and rock before returning to the groundwater system.
The action of a healthy septic tank
Inside a properly-functioning septic tank, solid organic waste materials slowly sink to the bottom where they are consumed and broken down by colonies of bacteria, while grease, scum, and other lighter materials float to the top. Special vents allow the effluent, or water, to be drained away to keep the septic tank from becoming too full.
Septic tanks that are too full or not working properly will not be able to digest the waste matter and continue to release the effluent. When this happens, the system becomes overloaded and can fail. Homeowners can opt to have their septic tanks drained on an as-needed or regular maintenance schedule to prevent the tank from becoming too full and risking a complete septic system failure.
To get specific information about your particular septic system, including the development of a plan for optimal maintenance, homeowners will want to work closely with a reputable septic tank cleaning and pumping service in their area.