The Process Behind How a Septic Tank Works

The Process Behind How a Septic Tank Works

There are a few advantages to having your own septic tank system versus using your municipality’s water and sewer services. Not only are you disposing of your home’s wastewater in an environmentally eco-friendly way, but you don’t have those water utility bills. But, how does a septic tank work?

Here are the four main components of a septic tank system.

1. Main Drain

The pipes from any drain in your home where wastewater is deposited will flow towards your main drain, located on a lower level of your home. The main drain will flow the wastewater directly into the septic tank.

2. Septic Tank

Simple in theory, with just a little maintenance, it will effectively handle your home’s wastewater for many years. As the water from the main drain is deposited into the septic tank, any solid materials will settle to the bottom of the tank. The wastewater will rise to a certain level, where another pipe will flow it towards the distribution box.

3. Distribution Box

The distribution box regulates the flow of the wastewater towards the drainfield. Water flows out of the top part of the septic tank at a certain rate, and there are screens in place to keep any solids that may have risen to the top of the tank from obstructing the pipes.

4. Drainfield or Leach Field

The drainfield is a large area located in your yard where a series of pipes are strategically designed to distribute all of the waste water from your home’s septic tank. The pipes in the drainfield will have holes allowing the water to gradually drain into the soil beneath it. Over time, the water is purified by the nutrients in the rocks and soil.

How do you maintain a septic tank?

There really isn’t much involved with maintaining a septic system.

  • Pumping and cleaning: Depending on the size of the septic tank and your water usage, it will need to be pumped out and cleaned every one to five years. Once the sludge has reached about two-thirds full, it time to schedule a cleaning.
  • Annual inspection: Once a year, have the tank inspected. They’ll also be able to let you know if it’s ready to be pumped.
  • Daily routines: You need to be mindful that only septic-safe items are going down the drains. Things like grease, cigarette butts, paper towels, and feminine hygiene products can cause problems.

It’s actually a pretty simple process. Gravity is really a septic tanks driving force. All you need to do is have a little annual maintenance performed, and be careful about what gets into the septic tank.

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