Understanding Septic Tanks

If you are thinking about getting a septic tank, considering moving to a house that has a septic system, or if you just want to find out more about the septic tank that you already have, then there is a lot to learn about how septic systems work in the modern day. Understanding how your system works can lead to greater efficiency and a diminished need for maintenance. To help you out, here is a basic introduction to how septic tanks work:

What happens when you flush something into your septic system?

The general process is actually pretty simple. When you flush something down your toilet or a drain, it will flow through a series of pipes until it reaches the first septic tank. In this tank, your waste will settle into three separate layers.

What are the different layers?

First you have the scum, which is a thin layer of light liquid that is less dense than water. This is mostly composed of fats and greases. You don't want this layer to get too big, since it can clog up the system.

The effluent is the second layer, resting between the other two layers. For lack of a better term, effluent is dirty water. It's waste that's ready to move onto the next step and contains a lot of dissolved waste.

The sludge rests at the bottom and consists of the solids and most of the actual waste. The sludge layer is going to be pretty significant and will get some new material every time you flush something solid down the toilet, but it will also lose some mass over time as well.

To simplify the process, there are colonies of helpful bacteria that sit at the bottom of your septic tank, breaking down the sludge over time. This material is dissolved and passes into the effluent, which is gradually flushed into the next chamber over time. As new wastewater is added into the septic tank from your home, some of the effluent is pushed to the next phase.

What is the next phase?

Depending on your system, you might have a second chamber attached to the first or you might just have pipes leading the the leach field.

If you have another chamber, then the process will repeat, with the effluent becoming even more pure. Once it has exited to the leach field, it will drain into the ready soil. At this point, the cycle is complete and your waste will have been mostly converted to nutrients and water.

For septic tank services, contact a company such as S & S Pumping.


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