How Septic Tanks Work

If you live in the country or outside of the city sewer system, it's probable that you have a septic system to handle your household waste water and sewage. These systems are basically self-contained Eco-systems that make use of "friendly" bacteria to neutralize and process what you send down your drains. It takes a little effort to keep your system healthy.

Approximately one-fourth of American households operate on a septic system, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Unfortunately, many homeowners who move from the city don't know a lot about how a septic system works:

How your septic system handles waste

Your septic system is made up of a large tank and a drain field. All of your household plumbing leads into that tank. The heavier material sinks to the bottom of the tank where "friendly" bacteria work at disposing it. This sinking causes the liquid to rise where it is discharged into a drain field that leads off of your tank. Most modern systems have two chambers to the central tank, with a charcoal or sand filter separating the two.

Knowledge is power when it comes to keeping your septic system healthy. It's important to avoid things that can upset the fragile ecosystem in your septic tank. For example, you need to be more careful about what you put down your drains than do your city neighbors. Things like oil and grease, bleach-based cleansers, egg shells, coffee grounds and paper "flushables" can all cause problems with your system.

You should also avoid planting any trees or shrubs near the system, as roots can grow down and infiltrate the tank and the pipes. It's also a bad idea to allow cars to park atop the system or build any kind of structure, such as a deck, patio or gazebo on that part of your lot.

Septic tank maintenance

Unlike a city waste disposal system, where the city maintains the system and you pay a monthly or quarterly bill, the homeowner is responsible for maintaining the septic system on his or her property. Well-maintained, a septic system can last for up to 50 years. However, even the healthiest septic tank system needs to be pumped and cleaned every few years. This prevents sediment from collecting and clogging the system.

While many new homeowners may be wary of having a septic system for their waste disposal, properly-maintained, there's really no need for concern. Such a system can work efficiently and safely for years and years. To learn more, contact a company like Burleson Septic Cleaning with any questions or concerns you have.