Septic Tank Maintenance
How It Works
- In the diagram below you will see how the waste sludge accumulates on the bottom of the tank and the scum layer floats at the top. Septic tanks are designed to trap this waste in the tank but allow the liquid sewage to pass through to the drain field. If the tank is not pumped often enough, the scum and sludge layers will thicken to the point where they reach the outflow pipe. Then with every flush of the toilet, solids start to be pushed out of the tank with the effluent and into the drain field. This causes the drain field to plug up and fail.
- Recommended pump-out frequency is based on the number of people using the system, the size of the tank, and a household's care of what goes down the drain. Some tanks fill a lot faster than others because the bacteria is being killed. A household of 3-4 should be pumped every three or four years. More people - more often, less people - less often. A single person can go 7 to 10 years between pump-outs.
- A septic system functions on the principal of natural digestion of organic materials by bacteria. In the septic tank enzymes break the bonds of compounds, resulting in a more simple and soluble feed that the bacteria then metabolize, converting some of the waste into liquid. The effluent then flows out of the tank and into the drain field where final treatment is completed. The more efficient the system operates, the less pollution goes into the environment. The more bacteriological activity in the septic tank, the better the treatment of the waste in the tank; and longer life of your drain field. The increased use of antibacterial cleaners and the huge array of shampoos, laundry detergent, bleaches, paper products, etc. can and do overburden and mess up many septic systems! It's not unrealistic for new systems to cost $15,000 to $30,000. Regular pump-outs and limited use of bacteria-killing cleaners is key to a healthy, long lasting drain field.