Dealing With Septic Tank Issues

Worried about having septic tank system problems? Below are some very useful facts to know what to do if you run into somethings we may not know too much about.

Septic tanks are a little more complex than most people realize. Take, for example, the function of a septic tank – it provides multiple important functions. It’s all through very extraordinary interactions of physical and biological processes that a septic system can do what it’s supposed to do. The essential functions of a septic tank include:

  • Receive all wastewater from the house;
  • Separate solids from the wastewater flow;
  • Cause reduction and decomposition of accumulated solids;
  • Provide storage for solids (scum and sludge);
  • to pass the clarified wastewater out to the drain field for final treatment and disposal.

A septic tank is usually a chamber made of fiberglass, concrete, plastic, or PVC, through which waste water flows through for primary treatment. The reduced solids and organics happens by the settling and anaerobic process which, in the end finally, reduces it. After these processes, you will need to have it pumped.

The use of the word “septic” refers to the anaerobic bacterial environment that develops in the tank which mineralizes and decomposes the waist discharge inside of the tank. The pace at which “sludge,” or fecal sludge, often accumulates is typically faster than the rate of the decomposition. Furthermore, the accumulation of fecal sledge must be periodically removed which is commonly done with a vacuum truck. This process is referred to as “septic tank service.”

Getting Septic Tank Service Scheduled

You should never attempt to try and clean your septic tank yourself – it should always be done by a qualified plumber.

When It Is Time For Septic System Service

Liquids remain in the tank for a certain amount of time – the floating skin layer on top of the sludge layer at the bottom take up a certain amount of volume in the tank. The effective volume is the liquid volume in the clear space between the scum and sludge layers. This is where the active solids separation occurs as the waste water sits in the tank.

In order for adequate separation of solids to occur, the wastewater needs to sit long enough in the quiescent conditions of the tank. The time the water spends in the tank, on its way from inlet to outlet, is known as the retention time. The retention time is a function of the effective volume and the daily household wastewater flow rate.

Septic tank services should always be completed by a qualified plumber, and they should be regularly maintained or it could cost up to $5,000 -$10,000 to replace a damaged tank or clean up after a backup. That’s not exactly going to be the best day of your life if that happens. To be properly maintained, a septic tank pumping service needs to happen every two to three years.

How septic tank pumping works

The fecal sludge at the bottom of the tank requires periodic septic cleaning. The most powerful bacteria will not be able to break down all the organic material completely, which means it’ll start to build up and take up more tank space. If there’s not enough space then there’s not enough room for the water and the fecal sludge will start to back up into the leach field and into your homes pipes which may cause tank failure. A few ways to help the septic tank keep from overfilling is to:

  • Dispose of cooking oils and grease properly, not down the drain due to the fact that they can cause the drains to become blocked. Grease and oils are often difficult to degrade and can also cause other problems and difficulties with the periodic emptying;
  • Flushing non-biodegradable waste items down the toilet is also a big no-no. Cotton pads/swabs, menstrual hygiene products, cigarette butts, and condoms can also cause a septic tank to clog and fill rapidly.

To make sure this does not happen, stay on top of your septic tank services. On average, a septic tank pumping costs about $270 – $300. A small amount compared to the mistake of not having it done and it backing up. Which, as mentioned earlier, can cost up to $5,000 – $10,000. All it takes is a simple call to your nearest qualified plumber to keep these problems from happening to you.