Taking Septic Services Into the Future: Research, Tips and Ideas

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What Are Septic Tanks, and How Are They Maintained?

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Septic tanks are used to break sewage down to make it disposable. They require regular maintenance in the form of pumping out to reduce the need for repairs.

How they work

A septic tank contains water and bacteria. When sewage passes into the tank, the bacteria break it down to create wastewater and a hard component of sludge. The wastewater then travels to a drain or lagoon where it will be discarded. The interior of the tank is covered in a shell which blocks air from entering. The absence of air allows the bacteria to continue breaking down any sewage that enters the tank. After a while, the sludge has to be pumped out of the tank.

Septic tanks are typically made from concrete and are cylindrical in shape. There will usually be two tanks connected by a pipe. Sewage will enter through the first pipe, and wastewater will pass out of the second tank. There may be a larger tank or multiple tanks used: one for the sewage and another for the sludge.

Septic tank pump out

Septic tanks need to be pumped out after a time to remove the sludge. If the tank becomes clogged or sewage leaks out, the tank will need to be pumped out sooner. Tanks that serve a larger number of individuals will need to be pumped out more often than those that serve a small household. A professional with a waste licence will need to pump out the tank. Before pumping out a tank, the contractor will need to notify the organisation that governs environmental health.

Septic tank maintenance

Septic tanks are generally long-lasting. The main maintenance required is for the tank to be pumped out on a regular basis. If the level of scum becomes too high, the tank will not be as effective, and it will need to be pumped out. If an issue does occur, the tank will need to be repaired or replaced. Factors which increase the likelihood of faults include old tanks, a lack of pumping out, overuse of the tank and an incorrect fitting of the tank. If any of these occur, sewage could recede into the pipes or the wastewater may overflow or leak around the tank. These are both dangerous situations, and a contractor will be required. The contractor may replace the tank, pump out the tank or replace parts of the tank, such as the diverter box or drainage receptacle.

Contact a septic professional to learn more about septic tank maintenance.