What You Should Know About Septic Tanks

Published On: October 28, 20201 Comment on What You Should Know About Septic TanksTags: Last Updated: February 20, 20243.8 min read

Septic tanks are unseen yet important parts of many households up to this day. It is a major part of a house’s septic system, and it does the dirty work of taking care of your domestic waste and taking care of your sewage. The septic tank and the entire septic system can be self-sufficient and will last a long time if used properly. We may already know a bit about what a septic tank does, but there are other important things to know about that will help you use your septic system properly.

What You Should Know About Septic Tanks

Read on as we unearth more about the important things you should know about septic tanks.

A Septic Tank Is Part of the Septic System

As mentioned before, a septic tank is part of the septic system of a household. The main parts include a pipe from home, a septic tank, a drain field, and the soil as the natural component. The septic tank is the largest component and is typically made of concrete, polyethylene, or fiberglass. Its installation can be tricky, as it depends on several factors, including the size and dimensions of the septic tank. Most underground installations need a 4 to 6 feet deep burrow, which will often require you to hire excavation services to get the excavation size done right. A typical rectangular septic tank can have 5 feet by 8 feet length and width dimension. Homeowners can opt to have the septic tank surface be visible on the ground or can have it buried when installing septic system but no deeper than 6 inches for easy inspection and maintenance.

A Septic Tank Holds and Treats Wastewater

Most of us may think that septic tanks work as large receptacles of the wastewater from our homes. A septic tank can hold large amounts of wastewater for a long time to allow solids to settle out and form sludge and allow oil and grease to float as scum. All of the necessary bacteria needed to break down the solids are within this part of the septic system. An optimally functioning septic tank can separate solids, sludge, fluids, and scum into separate layers, and the filtered water is directed into a drain field for further treatment.

Only Biodegradable Solids Should Flushed Down Septic Tanks

A septic tank relies on bacteria to break down the solids that come from your home’s pipe. Thus, it is important that you should know what to flush and what not to flush from your toilet bowls, sinks, and drains as non-biodegradable items or chemicals can throw off the balance of bacteria in the tank. Never flush dental floss, feminine hygiene products, diapers, cat litter, cotton swabs, and paper towels down your septic system.

small septic tank

Not only can these items adversely affect the bacteria in the septic tank, but these can also cause serious clogs and pipe damage. Chemicals and liquids are also not advised to be sent through your septic system. These include paints, household chemicals, pesticides, oil, gasoline, and antifreeze, which can severely reduce or destroy the biological treatment taking place in the system, wipe out the bacterial population in the septic tank, and possibly contaminate the groundwater or surface waters.

Regular Inspection and Pumping Are Needed to Maintain Your Septic Tank

It’s not just your septic tank that benefits from a regular inspection and pumping, but the entire septic system as well. Older septic tanks and systems need 3 to 5-year intervals for pumping, while the newer versions of tanks and systems (those that have switches, pumps, or mechanical components installed) need to be pumped once a year. These schedules can be subject to change depending on how frequently you use your septic system and how many members of the household are using it daily. Nevertheless, regular pumping and taking preventive measures during inspection can ensure good working conditions for your septic tank and septic system.

There is so much going on in our septic system that we don’t know about. We hope that the bits of information we shared here can help us become more aware of the important role our septic system plays in our health and the environment. The septic tank is an important wastewater storage and treatment device that needs care and attention for it to function properly for many years. So once in a while, take time to inspect your septic tank and have your tank pumped to keep your home clean and healthy inside and out.

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  1. Victoria Addington October 25, 2023 at 2:15 pm

    I loved how you stressed how important it is to only use biodegradable solids in your septic tanks. This is due to the fact that, as you mentioned, bacteria are needed to break down the solids coming from the home’s pipe. Since my brother was considering installing a septic tank on his new property, I will surely pass information along to him. I’ll also look into expert services that could provide him with assistance. I appreciate you sharing!

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