Septic Tank Care and Maintenance

Plumbing

If you use a septic tank on your property you will understand that correct care and maintenance is required.

Below are some key tips for septic tank maintenance. Consult a professional sceptic tank maintenance team if you are unsure of how to manage any of these processes.

  1. For a safe and functional waste management system, a septic tank is an important component. Thorough care, preventive maintenance and timely cleaning/pumping of the septic tank can’t be overemphasized. Its proper care and maintenance can not only increase the life of your sewage system but is also useful in avoiding heavy expenditures on maintenance apart from keeping the effluent quality in check.
  2. The average annual wastewater generation from an ordinary household with 3 occupants and 2 bathrooms is over 85,000 gallons, which amounts to 250-300 gallons every day. All this wastewater can’t be allowed to flow out to the natural water bodies without adequate treatment. A septic tank is the heart of such a system; it isolates solid waste from the liquid and then further segregates the treated water from the untreated one. 
  3. It pre-treats wastewater before it’s allowed to flow out in the drain field, taking about 24-48 hours for the process. If the septic tank is not properly taken care of, it may pose serious health hazards as the untreated solid/liquid wastes overflow into the water system. Repairing the damages is an expensive task. It’s therefore very important to maintain and carry out regular checks and periodic pumping of the septic tank. 
  4. Septic Tank – The Functioning. Septic tank is the watertight container where all the wastewater from your household gets collected. Since it’s underground, it mostly gets neglected as far as regular maintenance and preventive care is concerned.

As the wastewater from bathrooms, toilets, kitchen etc flows into it, the heavier solids settle down to the bottom, where bacteria start decomposing them. The lighter solids form a layer of scum at the top. The solid waste that doesn’t get decomposed, remains in the tank and needs to be removed through pumping (to be undertaken periodically after 3-5 years). In case these aren’t pumped out, the waste starts overflowing from the tank into the drain field that can cause large-scale damages.

  1. Drain Field. The effluent (wastewater flowing out from septic tank) flows out into the neighbouring field, where the soil acts as the final filter as well as the treatment media for it. There are perforated pipes laid inside gravel-filled trenches in the drain field. This network of pipes, soil and gravel provide an effective filtration to the effluent before it’s absorbed into the substrata.  
  2. An annual inspection of the septic tank levels, regular monitoring of the odours and any signs of overflow etc around the tank or in the drain field are essential activities. If these are undertaken religiously, it goes a long way towards carrying out timely pumping of the septic tank. Ensure that you abide by the regulations of the State and county in respect of the inspection frequency. The tank will need to be pumped in the following cases:- 

(a) Based on Solid Waste. It’s recommended that the septic tank should be pumped after about 3-5 years or when the solid quantity reaches 25-33% in the main compartment, whichever happens, earlier.

(b) Based on the Top Layer of Sludge. When the top layer of sludge reaches 12″ from the outlet bottom.

(c) Based on the Bottom Layer of Scum. It should be pumped when the scum accumulation reaches a level that its bottom is around 3″ from the outlet. 

Note. Measuring the Scum Level.

– Fix a 3″ square wooden block at the end of a long enough pole. 

– Carefully prod the block through the scum top. 

– Moving the block up and down, gauge the location of the bottom of scum as the resistance will suddenly change there. 

– Make a mark on the pole at this position. 

– Now feel the outlet pipe bottom and mark it on the pole. 

– If the two marks are 3″ or less apart, the tank needs to be pumped.

 

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