Most rural residences have septic systems in their properties. Because their properties are located miles away from the main sewage line, they have to get their own onsite wastewater treatment system. This allows these properties to continue generating wastewater without worrying about how to dispose of it. While having a septic system is mostly beneficial, that does not mean that the property owners are not responsible for its maintenance.
If you have ever seen a septic tank pumping procedure, then you know how uncomfortable it might be for some. Basically, the septic contractor uses a pumping hose and a pole to stir the sludge from the bottom of the septic tank while the hose sucks the content. The purpose of this process is to clean and empty the tank. This makes sure that the tank can once again fill up with solid waste, wastewater, and grease or fat.
The Three Layers of a Septic Tank
When waste hits the septic tank from your house, it gets divided into three layers. Over time, the solid waste sinks to the bottom and forms part of the sludge layer. The fat and grease float to the top and form of a layer of scum. The middle layer is the wastewater or the effluent. This middle layer is what flows into the drain field that treats and filters the wastewater.
A septic tank is almost always full. The sludge pushes the effluent until it reaches the outlet pipe leading to the drain field. Every outlet pipe should have a septic filter. This filters those tiny solid waste that might get into the leaching field. It’s important to know that the drain field cannot process solid waste. Only wastewater must get into the drain field. The sludge must be pumped out by a competent and licensed septic contractor.
Treating the Wastewater
How does the wastewater get treated? There are bacteria present in the septic tank. These good bacteria are responsible for breaking down the solid waste and pre-treating the wastewater. But there are certain things that you do that could kill the bacteria in the septic tank.
Maintaining the Septic System
You have to take care of the things that you flush down your toilet. You have to be careful of the cleaning chemicals and substances that you pour down the drain. Think of it this way: whatever you throw into your septic tank will eventually affect how it processes the waste there. The septic tank is not a garbage disposal unit. Keep that in mind. When you throw harmful substances into the tank, you are killing the bacteria responsible for pre-treating the wastewater.
Pumping the Septic Tank
How often should a septic tank get pumped? The answer depends on the size of the tank, the number of members of the household, the number of bedrooms in the house, and how much wastewater is being generated each day. At times, even the age of the septic system will come into play.
A typical 1,250-gallon septic tank for a four-bedroom house will need to be pumped at least once every three years. You might have to do it more frequently if there are more than three people generating wastewater every day. The contractor who installed the septic system (or the property’s previous owner) should turn over to you a maintenance schedule for the septic system. Follow this schedule, and you will be fine.
A responsible homeowner will try to understand all the structures and elements of the property. This will keep you on your toes for possible repairs and expenses. You can maintain your property better if you are aware of the things you should watch out for.