The septic tank is a type of sewage treatment that works with the natural process of decomposition. This process is done by bacteria, which essentially digests organic matter using oxygen in the air.
This may sound unpleasant, but it’s actually great news for those who live on farms and have livestock. In order to get rid of any waste, livestock will consume grass and dirt that contain their manure or other organic materials, creating an underground cesspit in which their waste will decompose. The septic tank system separates these solid wastes and collects the liquid component that can be used for irrigation or recycling into fuel sources.
As waste decomposes, it becomes a very rich, black substance that washes away into the yard or farm. This substance is known as sludge. This sludge can become toxic and put a strain on water treatment systems in the form of too much waste or too little flow coming from the septic tank.
A septic tank is located in the yard of many homes. It is attached to a sewage system with intake pipes located at either end of the house, depending on whether your house was built into an existing sewerage system or not. The sewage system is connected to a larger pipe system that can go up to the street in some cases, which allows for the septic tank to have its own drainage outlet.
Inside of a septic tank is a chamber in which sludge sits on the bottom and a collection area on top of the tank. The sludge will sit on top as bacteria digests it, creating anaerobic conditions while contributing to digestion. There are two main types of bacteria that work together in this environment to break down organic materials: aerobic bacteria and anaerobic bacteria (also known as denitrifying bacteria).
The most well-known bacteria that work in this process are “enterics” (also known as good bacteria). These provide a balance between the amount of digestion by anaerobic bacteria and the aerobic bacteria that helps to ensure a proper ecosystem in the tank. The anaerobic bacteria will also break down sludge into smaller pieces, which can then be collected separately or disposed of with regular trash.
Once the septic tank is full, it will begin to back up into the absorption system. This can cause problems if waste gets trapped inside of it or if there is not enough drainage outlet.
A common septic problem is an overabundance of sludge in the tank. This can be due to a number of causes, such as:
1. The septic tank fills up faster than it can be drained. If a household uses too much water, it will fill faster than a drain field can accept.
2. The soil around the absorption system has become compacted and will not allow for proper drainage. This could be due to the ground being frozen or filled with rocks that block water from getting through.
3. If too much sludge is in a septic tank, specific steps can be taken to clean and restore the bacteria environment within the tank. A professional septic company can help you decide how to proceed to ensure a healthy tank and efficient bacterial digestion.
Septic tanks are an important part of any household, but it is important to learn how they work and what you can do to make sure they keep working properly. Septic tanks are used to dispose of human and animal waste. These tanks use a system of conveyances called “logs” that move the wastewater from the building’s septic tank, through pipes and filter beds, to an outlet where it is discharged into a body of water. Often, these piping systems are not visible inside the building before being installed below grade. Still, they can instead be found alongside or near other utility piping in basements or crawl spaces.
The pipe transports wastewater from the septic tank to the outdoor drainage field. At the field, water passes over screens (also called “media”), which remove particulate matter and bacteria from the wastewater. The wastewater then passes over a pipe or culvert, then over another screen or media, and finally into a final drain pipe that discharges water into a body of fill.
Circulatory systems for septic tanks
Septic tank soils are classified according to the number of solids they can retain. Septic tank soils range in solids retention capacity from 1 pound per gallon (lbs/gal) in sandy soil to more than 40 lbs/gal in clay soil. A soil with a high capacity to hold solids is called a “dense” soil, and one with a low capacity is called a “sandy” soil. Septic tank soils may be discolored black or brown but are often not visible because they are well mixed with sand and gravel. A septic tank must be placed on porous soils for proper operation. The solids must be allowed to pass into the saturated subsurface soils because the dense soils do not allow water to pass through them. The end result is that the wastewater has nowhere to go but out of the septic tank.
Some states require periodic pumping of small septic tanks, most commonly at intervals of twenty years for single-family residences. Homeowners often install backyard septic systems to comply with such requirements.
If the tank is not pumped, the solids settle out, and the soil will become saturated. If a homeowner attempts to dig an underlying or adjacent garden, they may damage the septic system. However, suppose a homeowner moves their home or needs to build above their current residence and needs to replace their existing septic tank. In that case, they can use a new “deep” system that will accept more wastewater (for example, 30 gallons per minute) than was formerly discharged from their home’s old septic system (for example, 20 gallons per minute). The new septic system should also meet additional septic tank requirements from the local government.
Septic tank overflow is typically regulated by a local government or regulating agency rather than being regulated by the states. Many states only require septic tanks to have an overflow vent into a public sewer or storm drain and may require a backflow preventer at the outlet of the storm drain.
Septic tank operation and maintenance
Septic tank construction and inspection laws vary by state. The majority of states do not require inspections or testing of septic systems, except as required by law (“as required”). Most states do not require periodic inspections and no testing of septic systems. Some states have specific requirements for periodic inspections and rate-based testing for all solids handling systems, especially residential systems. However, a few states only regulate the design, construction, installation, installation inspection, and testing of septic tanks in accordance with the North Carolina Building Code (NCBC).
The most common septic system types are subsurface flow, where the dwelling is not connected to the groundwater below, and closed (where seepage water is collected in a leach field), which are designed for areas with significant groundwater and limited surface drainage. These septic systems will typically consist of a leach pit or dugout within 100 feet of the house and an underground drain field or piping system. These systems are most common in areas with extensive groundwater because the system is designed to handle the seepage and erosion that would occur if the groundwater were allowed to directly enter the house, potentially resulting in subsidence.
Septic tank maintenance
Septic tanks should be inspected and tested every three years or when another routine inspection indicates a need for service. Inspections may be required by law. If a homeowner’s septic system is leaking into their basement, they will likely be required to have that leak repaired or replaced by their local government agency. If a homeowner feels their septic system is not working properly or needs maintenance, he/she should contact his/her local government agency.
Septic tank maintenance includes regular inspection, repair, and maintenance. Septic tanks should be inspected every three years, more often if there are problem areas. There are two types of inspections: visual inspection, where a septic tank is visually checked for leaks and problems, and pressure testing, where the system is tested to ensure it can handle the amount of waste discharged from the dwelling.
Testing is important because the severity of any problems can become apparent only after a certain number of units handle their waste. Pressure tests performed annually indicate whether seals are leaking or seeping, whether fittings are broken or corroded, whether piping joints have rusted through, and other possible problems in the system. The inspection should be carried out by a person qualified to handle septic systems, such as a septic tank contractor.
Septic tank maintenance will likely include, among other things, an inspection of the leach field, repair or replacement of installers rubber, an inspection of diverters and skimmers located at the outlet to make sure they are open as required by law, an inspection of all piping for equipment leaks and slight cracks. The installer rubber is a “rubber” that is placed inside pipelines to prevent corrosion from leaking from fittings. If a pipe became broken or completely destroyed, it would be replaced at that time.
Septic tank licensing
Only a few states require septic system contractors to be licensed. These include California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and New York. In Virginia, a contractor’s license is required in certain occasions. Other states only require certification for septic systems for sewer and drain cleaning companies that clean drains that connect to septic tanks. A liquid waste system (sewage) that combines wastewater from toilets with storm waters from roofs, roads, and streets requires greater care in design to prevent sewage contamination of storm waters.