Understanding and Caring for Your Septic System
WHO has a septic system?
Households that are not served by public sewers usually depend on septic tank systems to treat and dispose of wastewater. A well designed, installed, and maintained septic system can provide years of reliable low-cost service. When these systems fail to operate effectively, property damage, ground and surface water pollution, and disease outbreaks can occur.Therefore, it makes good sense to understand and care for your septic tank system.
There are many different types of septic tank systems that can fit a wide range of soil and site conditions. The following information will help you to understand a simple type of septic system, and keep it operating safely at the lowest possible cost.
WHAT is a septic tank?
The typical septic tank is a large buried rectangular or cylindrical container made of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene.
HOW does it work?
Wastewater from your toilet, bath, kitchen, and laundry flows into the tank. Heavy solids settle to the bottom where bacterial action partially decomposes them to digested sludge and gases. Most of the lighter solids, such as fats and grease, rise to the top and form a scum layer. Septic tanks may have one or two compartments. Two compartment tanks do a better job of settling solids and are required for new systems. Tees or baffles are provided at the tank’s inlet and outlet pipes. The inlet tee slows the incoming wastes and reduces disturbance of the settled sludge. The outlet tee keeps the solids or scum in the tank. All tanks should have accessible covers for checking the condition of the baffles and for pumping both compartments. If risers extend from the tank to or above the ground surface, they should be secure to prevent accidental entry into the tank.
WHY do I need to pump my septic tank?
Solids that are not decomposed remain in the septic tank. If not removed by periodic pumping, solids will accumulate until they eventually overflow into the distribution box and drain field, causing damage and possible septic backups.
WHERE is the tank?
Most tanks are located about 8 – 10 metres out from the house. Look for a dead patch or particularly green patch of grass. It should be where the main water line leads out of the house.
WHEN should a tank be pumped?
Most septic tanks need to be pumped every 2 years, depending on tank size, number of people using the system, and the amount and type of solids entering the tank. Because of these variables regular tank inspection is a must to ensure the safe and efficient operation of your system.