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How Does a Septic Tank Work

How does a septic tank work? What are they? What are the benefits of using one? In this article, we will answer all of those questions and more. We'll start by explaining what a septic tank is and how it works. Then we'll discuss the benefits of using a septic tank and show you why they are such an important part of any home wastewater system.

In every home, all household plumbing has to go somewhere. All the waste we produce must be filtered before going back into the water cycle. Urban areas often use a city sewer system. The waste from every home and business in an area goes into one collective sewer main. This wastewater then travels to a treatment plant for filtering.

Rural areas don’t have this convenience due to the larger distance between homes. A sewer system would be too expensive to install, so private septic systems are installed to filter the wastewater; Read this guide to find out how a septic system works.

These private septic systems consist of a septic tank and a drainage field also known as a leach field. When considering the installation of septic tanks how they work is often the first question our experts hear. So how do septic tanks work? Read on to learn more about their key role in wastewater management.

The Role of a Septic Tank

A conventional septic system consists of two main components—the septic tank and the leach field. In this article, we’re going to focus on the heart of the system: the septic tank. If you’re interested in how a septic system works together as a whole, you can find more information at our newest page.

The role of the septic tank is to treat the wastewater before it enters the leach field. The septic tank is a watertight chamber that is typically made of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene. It’s important to note that a septic tank will function effectively without a leach field. However, if you want your septic system to last for many years, we recommend installing a leach field in addition to the septic tank.

How Septic Tanks Work

How Does a Septic Tank Work - NexGen SepticsNow that we know where septic tanks are installed and what their purpose is, let’s take a closer look at how a septic tank works. Wastewater enters the anaerobic septic tank through an inlet pipe and begins to settle inside the tank. Heavy solids sink to the bottom of the tank and lighter waste remains on top. For aerobic septic tanks how it works is a bit different. Once the wastewater enters the tank, it is immediately aerated to encourage bacteria growth. This type of septic tank is more effective at breaking down waste but requires more maintenance than anaerobic septic tanks.

Wastewater enters the tank through one end and leaves on the other. There are three layers in a septic tank system. The bottom layer is called the sludge layer where solid wastes collects. Bacteria in the tank breaks down the solid waste material that sinks to the bottom. The top is called the scum layer, and this consists of lightweight waste such as grease or fat. The middle layer is the wastewater also called the effluent. The wastewater in this layer still needs further filtering before it’s ready to enter the groundwater. When new wastewater enters the septic tank, the overflow of effluent enters the drainage pipe to travel to the drainage field. There are only a few system designs where a septic tank will function effectively without a leach field.

The Leach Field

How Does a Septic Tank Work - NexGen SepticsThe drainage field, or leach field, is the final step in the septic system. This consists of perforated pipes in trenches filled with gravel or sand. Each pipe is four inches in diameter. They are inserted into trenches that are four to six feet deep and two feet wide. Gravel or sand surrounds the pipe and is topped off with soil. The water that is distributed into the pipes slowly enters the ground through the drain field. Here more bacteria filter the water before it enters the groundwater safety free of pollutants. Water should be absorbed by the soil at the right rate. There are many factors that affect how a drain field works.

How does leach field work affect your property? It’s easy to locate the drainage field on your property. Just look for the greenest area. The grass around the drainage field takes advantage of the water released from the pipes. It’s important to know where this area is so that you can watch out for any signs of septic system failure.

Septic Tank Maintenance

While a septic tank can filter sewage unattended, there are still things the homeowner needs to do to keep the septic tank process running smoothly. How does septic tank work like maintenance and repairs affect your system? You shouldn’t experience much downtime for routine maintenance, but repairs (as a result of damage or lack of maintenance) could cause larger problems.

Problems with the septic tank can lead to sewage backing up into the house or overflowing into your lawn. Clogs, cracks or backups are problems that will only get worse the longer you ignore them. Properly maintaining septic tanks can allow them to last for many years without needing to have any major installation done. There are many ways to keep your septic system functioning.

Things To Avoid To Keep Your Septic Tank Functioning

You may be wondering, how does the septic tank work to remove inorganic waste? The short answer is that it doesn’t. An important thing to remember is that all the waste that leaves your home through the plumbing will end up in your septic tank. This means anything flushed down the toilet or garbage disposal ends up there. Don’t flush anything into the septic tank that shouldn’t be there. This can include diapers, feminine products, kitty litter or chemicals. Also, be careful of products that claim they are “disposable”. Not all products are safe to enter the septic tank. Even some toilet paper products aren’t designed to break down in the septic tank which can cause clogs or build up.

The drainage field needs to be properly maintained as well. Without maintenance, wear and tear can affect how a septic field works. How does septic field work become affected by wear and tear? Driving over the leach field can cause damage to the pipes. The soil and gravel surrounding the pipes can compress under the weight of a vehicle.

Avoid roots damaging the septic system by keeping trees with long roots far away from the area. Roots can get into the drain field, pipes and septic tank. This can cause clogs or even cracks that will disrupt the system.

Signs Of Septic Tank Work on the Horizon

There are many signs that your septic work is showing signs of wear or damage. One could be slow draining in sinks or bathtubs. Toilets can also have trouble flushing. These are both signs that the septic tank is not dispelling the wastewater in the tank quickly enough to take in the new wastewater. You might even notice a foul odor coming from drains in your home which can lead to sewage backing up into the house.

If you notice your lawn getting lusher and greener around the leach field, this might not actually be a good thing! This can show signs of problems with the outlet pipes. There could be a blockage or even a break that is spilling excess water into the soil.

Noticing any of these problems is the first sign that you need to call your local septic tank expert to repair any damage to your system.

Finding A Septic Tank Expert

How Does a Septic Tank Work - NexGen SepticsSeptic tanks can’t last forever. Eventually, maintenance by a professional needs to be done to keep the septic tank working correctly. Call a contractor at any sign of problems with the septic tank, but they also should be doing routine maintenance to your septic tank. Every three to five years, you need to have a contractor perform a septic tank pumping. The solid waste in your tank will build up over time and there won’t be enough room in the tank for anymore waste. Having your septic tank pumped routinely will be a way to ensure a long healthy life for your septic system.

Not only can you call a septic expert for problems with your septic tank, you can also install a new system. This might sound like a daunting task, but upgrading your septic tank is a great investment into your home. How does a septic work order increase your home’s value? There are alternative septic tanks that will speed up the filtering process that will allow for a smaller septic tank. For more information about how septic tanks work, check our FAQ below!

Septic Tank Function FAQ

When you're buying a septic tank how does it work is likely to be at the forefront of your mind. A septic tank is a water-tight chamber made of concrete, fiberglass, or plastic, with an inlet and outlet piped to it. Wastewater flows from your home to the septic tank where it is held for some time before being discharged into a leach field for further treatment.

If you wonder how do septics work with wells, the answer is "fantastically." A septic tank system can be paired with a well on your property to maximize efficiency and minimize environmental impact.

Wondering how does a septic field work to prevent contamination? Once you know how to septic tanks work wonders for irrigation and nutrient delivery with minimized risk for environmental hazards. The effluent flows through a series of pipes into a drain field where it is purified by soil bacteria before wastewater ever reaches the groundwater. Septic systems are an important part of any home or business and understanding how they work is critical to their proper maintenance.

When functioning properly, septic tanks treat wastewater to remove contaminants and contain waste. You might be wondering how does septic tanks working properly look? Essentially, you shouldn't notice anything extraordinary if your tank is working right.

Once you know what goes into a septic tank how it works can be easier to understand. Each tank is composed of three main parts: the inlet, outlet, and baffle.

The inlet is the pipe that brings wastewater into the septic tank. The effluent then flows through the baffle, which is a T-shaped structure that prevents solids from leaving the tank while allowing liquids to pass through. From there, the liquid waste enters what's called the anaerobic chamber where digestion occurs. In this chamber, bacteria break down solid matter. Finally, the treated effluent exits through the outlet and returns to groundwater.

It's fascinating how septic tank system works as a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. A pipe transports wastewater from your house into the septic tank. The solid waste in the water sinks to the bottom, forming sludge, while oil and grease float to the top, forming scum. Bacteria decomposes waste in the tank. The effluent is pumped out of the septic tank and dispersed through a drain field where it is further treated by bacteria as it percolates through soil. This method purifies wastewater before it reenters groundwater aquifers or surface waters by removing hazardous germs, viruses, fungi, and other pollutants.

A septic tank is a large container, usually made of concrete, plastic, or fiberglass, which holds and treats wastewater before dispersing it to a drain field. They are an environmentally friendly wastewater treatment option, and they can be used in place of or in conjunction with a sewer system.

When comparing how a septic works versus how sewer systems work, you have to consider how septic tank works with the environment of your property, where sewer is dependent on proximity to your neighbors and the city center.

The septic tank is a watertight container usually made of concrete, fiberglass, or plastic. It receives wastewater from the home. Inside, solids settle to the bottom, forming sludge, while fats and oils float to the top, creating scum. The liquid in between, called effluent, flows out to the leach field, a series of underground perforated pipes or trenches in a bed of gravel. Here, the effluent percolates through the soil, which acts as a natural filter, removing harmful bacteria, viruses, and nutrients.
A septic pump is used in systems where gravity alone is not sufficient to move effluent from the septic tank to the drain field. It is installed in a separate pump chamber from the main septic tank. The pump activates when the effluent reaches a predetermined level and moves the effluent to the drain field.
The 2 tank system involves two tanks in a series. The first tank works as a primary settling basin where solids separate from the liquid. The partially clarified liquid then flows into the second tank for further settling and anaerobic digestion. This additional step provides better effluent quality before it is discharged to the drain field.
A concrete septic tank is a heavy-duty, durable container for wastewater. Its main function is to hold the wastewater long enough to allow solids to settle to the bottom (forming sludge) and oils and grease to float to the top (forming scum). The middle layer of effluent then exits the tank to the leach field.
The 3 tank septic system is similar to the two-tank system but with an additional tank, offering even more advanced treatment. The first two tanks function similarly - for settling and digestion. The third tank can provide further treatment, such as additional settling, nutrient reduction, or pH balancing, improving the quality of the effluent before it enters the drain field.
This alarm system is designed to alert homeowners when the water level in the pump tank is unusually high or low, indicating a potential problem. High water levels can mean pump failure, clogged pipes, or excessive water usage. The alarm typically includes a float switch and an audible and/or visual alarm.
Essentially similar to the description in point 3, this system uses two tanks for improved separation and digestion of waste, enhancing the overall efficiency of the septic system.
A bio septic tank incorporates biological processes for treating wastewater. It often includes media or biofilters that enhance the growth of bacteria. These bacteria break down the organic matter in the wastewater more effectively than in conventional septic tanks, resulting in cleaner effluent.
This tank divides the sewage treatment process into three chambers. The first chamber is for settling solids, the second chamber further separates the remaining particulate matter, and the third chamber is where the final settlement and clarification occur. This design enhances the treatment process and reduces the amount of suspended solids in the effluent.
Plastic septic tanks are made from high-quality plastic or polyethylene. These tanks are lightweight, resistant to corrosion, and often easier to install than concrete tanks. They perform the same basic function as concrete tanks but are more susceptible to damage from improper installation or soil conditions.
Infiltrator systems are a type of plastic septic tank known for their ease of installation and durability. They often feature a unique design that allows for more efficient use of space in the drain field. The chambers are typically modular and can be configured based on the specific requirements of the site.

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