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What is a Septic Tank?

Wastewater from your home’s toilets, sinks and laundry drains flows into the septic tank. The weighty masses sink to the bottom, while lighter grease and soap floats to the top. Bacteria digest and reduce the contaminants in wastewater. Contact Septic Tank Armadale now!

Effluent then flows into the drain field, which is a shallow area of uncovered soil that filters sewage and water. Bacteria in the septic tank also generate gases that escape through a vent.

A septic tank collects all the sewage and waste from your home’s toilets, showers, sinks and garbage disposal. It then allows the waste to settle or float. The heavier solids (fats, oils, grease) sink to the bottom of the tank and become sludge. The lighter solids (wastewater) rise to the top and form a layer of scum. In between these two layers, the wastewater is treated by bacteria that digest and break down the sludge into liquid effluent.

Septic tanks are watertight containers made of concrete, fiberglass or polyethylene. They are typically located underground and are designed to be leakproof. Septic tanks are built to withstand the pressure of sewage from household plumbing, groundwater and surrounding soil.

Your septic tank is connected to your house through a pipe called an inlet pipe. Wastewater flows from your home’s toilets, showers, bathtubs, dishwashers and washing machines to the septic tank where it begins to separate into three layers: sludge, scum, and effluent.

The wastewater inside your septic tank has the potential to contain disease-causing pathogens and other contaminants. Bacteria in your septic tank work to reduce these contaminants and make the wastewater safe to discharge into a buried drain field.

A septic tank baffle wall (sometimes called a partition wall) divides the tank into compartments. The baffle wall keeps surface scum from clogging the inlet pipe and reduces wastewater agitation, which makes it easier for solids to sink to the bottom of your septic tank. The baffle wall also has an opening that lets the liquid wastewater pass out of your septic tank.

The liquid effluent exits your septic tank through a series of perforated pipes buried in an absorption field, sometimes called a leach field or septic tank trench. The wastewater is absorbed into the ground where it is further treated by bacterial action and the grass that grows above. A septic tank system is the first step in a conventional sewage treatment system.

How does a septic tank work?

All wastewater from your toilets, bathtubs, showers, washing machines and sinks drains into the main drainage pipe that leads to your septic tank. This septic tank is usually made of concrete or heavy-weight plastic and is buried underground, typically several feet from your home. It is a watertight container that holds about 1,000 to 2,000 gallons of wastewater. Inside your septic tank, all the solid waste sinks to the bottom and forms a layer called sludge. Fats, oils and grease float to the top and form a layer known as scum. The middle of the septic tank contains clear liquid wastewater, or effluent. Anaerobic bacteria in your septic tank digest these organic materials and help break them down to a liquid. The wastewater then flows out of the septic tank through an outlet valve to a septic system drain field.

The septic tank drain field is a series of trenches filled with gravel where the wastewater seeps into soil and is naturally filtered by microbes. The septic tank outlet pipe goes into a distribution box that has multiple outlets to evenly distribute the wastewater among sections of the drain field. This prevents the effluent from flooding one area of the drain field or getting clogged with sludge.

You must avoid putting any solids in your septic tank or drain field. This includes paper towels, feminine hygiene products, sanitary products, baby wipes, cleaning chemicals and pet waste. If these items enter your septic tank, they can clog the tank or flow into the drain field and contaminate soil and groundwater. It is also important to pump your septic tank out every three to five years. If you don’t pump it regularly, the septic tank can become full of sludge and overflow into your house. You can tell if your septic tank is full by looking at the overflow baffle or noticing that your home’s drains are slowing down or backing up. Keeping up with your septic tank maintenance can help extend the life of your septic tank and septic system. Keeping up with your septic maintenance schedule also protects the health and safety of your family, pets and neighbors.

Why do I need a septic tank?

Septic tanks are important because they allow you to live in rural areas without the limitations and inconveniences of municipal sewer systems. They are a way to take advantage of the quiet and freedom of living in the country without giving up modern conveniences like toilets that flush easily, running water, and garbage disposals. If you are thinking of buying a house in the country, it is important to consider whether a septic system would be right for your property and your family’s needs.

Wastewater from all drains and toilets in your home runs into one main drainage pipe that leads to the septic tank underground. When the wastewater enters your septic tank, it is treated by natural and mechanical processes. Heavy solids sink to the bottom of the tank where they are decomposed by anaerobic bacteria, while oils and fats float to the top where they are decomposed by aerobic bacteria. The resulting liquid wastewater, called effluent, leaves the septic tank through the outlet.

As the sewage leaves your septic tank, it flows through a network of perforated pipes extending into an absorption field, also known as a lateral field or drainfield. The soil in your septic drainfield absorbs the wastewater, treating it further by filtration and absorption. The absorption field is made up of a series of gravel trenches that connects to the inlet and outlet pipes in your septic tank.

You need a septic tank because septic tanks are a good way to deal with wastewater that wouldn’t otherwise be treated and returned to the environment. This is especially important because of the high population density in urban and suburban areas. Septic tanks also reduce the environmental impact of sewage by keeping it out of local rivers and streams.

Besides the environmental benefits of septic systems, they can help you save money on utility bills by avoiding costly sewage backups and repairs. If you notice that your toilets or drains are draining slowly or making a gurgling sound, it could be a sign that it is time to get your septic system checked out.

How much does a septic tank cost?

While septic systems are often cited as one of the most expensive home improvement projects, there are many factors that can affect the total cost. Choosing the right tank material, system size and installation methods are important considerations. Additionally, septic tanks can be purchased through a home warranty plan for an added peace of mind.

When considering a new septic system, homeowners should always consult a professional installer to get the most accurate pricing for their specific project. A home warranty company can help connect you with a licensed, experienced professional who can provide a complete quote for a septic tank and installation services.

Depending on your household’s water usage, you may require a larger or smaller septic tank for optimal performance. On average, septic tanks hold between 1,000 and 1,500 gallons of wastewater. Water from the sinks, toilets and bathtubs enters the septic tank where it is treated with natural and mechanical processes to remove solid waste and organic matter before returning it to the groundwater supply.

On average, a septic tank costs between $500 and $2,500 before installation. Concrete tanks are the most durable option, but they can crack and break down over time, so they must be inspected on a regular basis ($700 to $2,000 total). Plastic septic tanks are more affordable than concrete, but they can also become cracked or separated from the foundation over time ($500 to $2,500). Fiberglass septic tanks are an alternative to concrete tanks, but they are prone to damage during installation and can shift in the soil when moisture levels change quickly or frequently ($1,200 to $2,000 total).

Regular septic tank pumping is essential for ensuring your septic system operates properly. If you hire a professional to perform this preventative service, it will typically cost $300 to $600. Performing routine pumping will ensure that your septic tank is never full or overflowing. This will prevent sewage from leaking into your home or groundwater supplies and will reduce the likelihood that harmful bacteria will enter these resources.

Purchasing a septic system is an investment that can last decades with proper care and maintenance. A septic system that isn’t regularly inspected or cleaned may begin to leak or overflow, leading to costly repairs and possible environmental hazards. If you’re considering buying a home with a septic system, make sure an experienced, licensed professional professionally installs it to avoid future expensive and potentially dangerous issues.