What Is a Septic Tank?

A septic tank is a large, underground container that stores home wastewater. Heavy solids sink to the bottom and form sludge, while oil and grease float to the top and become scum.

The liquid waste (effluent) then flows into a drain field, where soil naturally filters and purifies it further. If the septic tank is not functioning properly, pathogenic bacteria can enter groundwater wells and waterways. For more information, click the link https://www.septictankarmadale.com.au/ provided to proceed.

Septic Cleaning Guide for Septic System Maintenance - Why does a Septic Tank Need Cleaning? - septic tank cleaning and septic system care guide

The Septic Tank is a buried watertight container made of concrete, fiberglass or polyethylene that serves as the initial point of treatment for wastewater. Wastewater flows into the tank from household fixtures, such as toilets and sinks. The septic tank holds the wastewater long enough for solids to settle to the bottom forming sludge and oil and grease to float to the top as scum. Compartments and a tee-shaped outlet prevent the sludge and scum from leaving the tank and traveling into your drain field where they could clog and contaminate groundwater and soils.

During the time that wastewater is held in the septic tank, up to 50 percent of the solids decompose anaerobically, without chemical or biological additives. The tank is sized to meet the needs of the home’s wastewater flow and the amount of solids it contains, which can be estimated by the number of flushes per day and the size of garbage disposal used.

As the solids settle in your septic tank, their density differences automatically separate them into three layers. Oils and grease float to the top as scum, while the rest of the sewage forms a layer of sludge that is dense and compacted. Underwater anaerobic bacteria consume the organic waste in the sludge, producing gases that combine with the sludge to form a thick liquid known as effluent. The liquid wastewater flows out of the septic tank through a tee-shaped outlet and into your drain field.

Gases and odors generated by these processes are vented through the septic tank vent that has a mushroom shape, which can be fitted with a charcoal filter to reduce odors. The vent also has a second opening to release hot water that relieves pressure built up ahead of the wastewater, which prevents your septic tank from overflowing and backing up your household plumbing.

During regular maintenance, the inlet and outlet tees are cleaned of floating debris such as coarse materials and grease, and the sludge layer is removed manually or mechanically using a machine called a de-sludging pump. De-sludging is necessary every 2 to 5 years, depending on your household use and your septic system design.

Septic tanks produce sludge, which is organic waste that is very thick. The sludge layer is found in the bottom of your septic tank, where it is a mixture of non-liquid substances such as soil, bones, and food particles. The bacteria in your septic tank work to break down these solid waste materials, and eventually, the sludge is digested into a liquid substance called effluent. The watery effluent that is produced in a septic tank is then passed into the drain field, where natural microorganisms further break down the sewage.

The first septic tank layer is the scum layer, which is made up of lighter discharged wastes. The scum layer typically contains fats, oils, and greases (FOGs). The bacteria in your septic system are able to break down and digest the FOGs in this scum layer. The septic tank bacteria break down these materials in an oxygen rich environment and this process is crucial to your septic system’s efficiency.

This scum layer is prone to building-up if you aren’t careful about what you put into your septic system. If you flush things like cigarette butts, cotton buds/swabs, menstrual hygiene products, and condoms down the toilet, it can cause your septic tank to build-up rapidly. This is because these items aren’t able to be broken down by the bacterial population in your septic tank.

If you notice a lot of scum floating on the top of your septic tank, it’s likely time to get it pumped out. If you wait too long, the bacteria in your septic tank may die from lack of oxygen, and they won’t be able to digest the remaining waste in your septic tank.

You can test the sludge level in your septic tank by using a stick that is designed specifically for testing septic tank sludge depth. A simple way to use this is by wrapping a white material around one end of the stick and lowering it into the septic tank until you feel it touch the bottom of the sludge layer. Then you can mark the level of the sludge on your stick, so you can determine when it is time to have your septic tank pumped.

Septic tanks are a common way of dealing with residential sewage. This waste is decomposed in the tank, and the resultant gases are expelled through the vent system. These gases can be toxic in high concentrations. Septic gases include hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, ammonia and sulphur dioxide. The concentration of these gases depends on septic tank size, sewage composition, temperature and time. Hydrogen sulfide has a rotten egg smell and can be poisonous when inhaled in high concentrations. It can cause eye irritation, sore throat, breathing problems and coughing. In extreme cases, it can lead to respiratory depression and even death.

The septic tank’s vent system is designed to allow methane and other gases to escape safely, rather than building up to dangerous levels inside the tank. Proper venting is also important for ensuring that the tank does not explode. It is important to never lean over the top of a septic tank as hydrogen sulfide can leak out and dissolve in water, creating sulphuric acid. This acid can eat through concrete over time and destroy the septic tank.

It is also important to note that a septic tank should never be filled above the liquid level. Filling a septic tank above the liquid level can cause the liquid to seep out through the cracks and crevices of the tank. It can also seep into the drainfield and contaminate groundwater.

While septic odors are normal for any properly functioning septic system, they can be an issue when the tank is full. If you notice septic odors in the yard, it is likely that the tank needs to be pumped.

If you have a newer septic tank, you might be able to avoid these odors altogether by reducing the amount of organic matter that is flushed down your toilets. You can do this by avoiding non-biodegradable items like cigarette butts, cotton buds/swabs and menstrual hygiene products. You can also do your part by making sure that you are regularly pumping your septic tank and having it serviced as recommended.

It is also possible that the septic odors might be coming from your home’s plumbing. Clogged drains and sink traps often cause this, and it can be remedied by cleaning or replacing your drain traps. You should also make sure that trees or other objects do not block your septic tank’s vent. If it is, this will prevent the gases from escaping and lingering in your home. You can check this by observing your vents from the outside of your home and making sure they are unobstructed.

Septic tanks produce odors due to anaerobic bacteria breaking down organic waste in the tank. When this occurs, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and methane gases are released. These gases have a very foul smell, which is why septic tanks are located underground – to keep these unpleasant smells away from the living areas of the home. However, these odors shouldn’t be lingering outside your home and, in fact, when they do, it is an indication that the system is in need of attention.

The foul odors can be caused by a number of issues, including ineffective digestion inside the tank and a full tank that is due for pumping. A clogged drain line can also cause septic odors, especially when it is not drained regularly. Adding baking soda to your drains can help maintain the correct pH level inside the septic tank and reduce odors.

In winter, septic odors can occur when a septic tank’s vent stack is not functioning properly. High winter rainfall, rapid snowmelt, and water flooding into the septic tank can all interfere with the natural process of gasses being released from your septic tank.

If you’re noticing septic tank odors near your house, consider having the plumbing vent pipes extended. This will allow wind to better diffuse septic tank odors and ensure they don’t get trapped within your home.

Keeping a lid on your septic tank can also limit the amount of odor that comes into your home. This is because it limits the amount of scum and sludge that enters your drain lines. If you’re unsure whether or not your lid is closed, contact a plumber for assistance to test the septic tank.

When opening a manhole or access lid to your septic tank, be sure to wear rubber gloves and safety goggles. Septic fumes are highly toxic and can irritate the eyes, nose, throat and respiratory tract. They can also be inhaled and can lead to organ damage or even death.