How the Septic Tank System Works

15 January 2016
 Categories: , Blog


If you live in an area not served by a sewer system, you might have to install a septic tank. This would be your own sewer treatment plant. It is usually buried underground where waste water from your drainage system is directed. It helps to prevent pollution since the waste water would otherwise be released to the ground or water systems such as rivers, swamps, lakes and ponds. The release of sewer water into these systems could spread diseases such as dysentery, typhoid and hepatitis. Thus, having a septic tank is important for your home. Knowing how it works can help you understand more about maintenance so that it provides long term service.

Septic Tank

This is the main component of the system and it may have single or double compartments. Older tanks have a single compartment while newer ones have double compartments to increase efficiency. The sewer water is first directed to the septic tank where it is supposed to stay for a period of one day. This provides adequate time for the heavy solids to sink to the bottom, leaving the liquid in the middle and the light scum at the top. An outlet pipe leads the liquid to the drain field while the sludge and scum layers are left in the septic tank. Bacteria helps to decompose most of the solid waste so that it does not accumulate at a high rate in the septic tank. Therefore, the septic tank can operate for a long period of time without needing to be emptied. The solids that are not broken down by the bacteria remain in the tank till they are drained. If they are not removed in time, they may over-flow either into the drain field or back-up into your drainage system. Signs of an impending over-flow include fixtures such as sinks and showers draining slowly. The solids need to be pumped out immediately to prevent further damage.

Drain Field

This is the other component of the system. It is basically an area where the liquid from the sewer is treated further by soil organisms. You can use grass or other small plants in this area to help in the treatment of the water. It is important to leave this part of the yard free from installations such as carports or decks. Animals should also not be allowed to graze in the area. To ensure that you do not experience any problems with the septic tank system, regular checks should be carried out to establish the levels of the sludge and troubleshoot potential problems. So contact your local plumber if you run into any problems.