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What is Septic Tank, and How does it work ?

A septic tank is a vital component of waste management in homes located in rural or remote areas that are not connected to the city’s sewage lines. These underground tanks collect, filter, process, and disperse waste in a safe and efficient manner, making them an essential part of wastewater management for homes in these areas. Have you ever wondered what happens to the wastewater from homes in these remote areas? Understanding how septic tanks work can help you appreciate the value and convenience they provide. Although septic tanks may not be top-of-mind for many homeowners, learning more about them can be interesting and helpful.

Everest Plumbing Mar 02, 2023
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What is a Septic Tank?

• An underground system that is used to treat and dispose of household wastewater
• Used in areas where there is no access to a centralized sewer system like in cities and densely populated areas
• Septic tank is made up of a watertight container that is usually made of concrete, fiberglass, or plastic.
• Tank is buried in the ground and receives wastewater from the home through a network of pipes.

How does a Septic Tank Work?

visual interpretation septic system

Now that you have learned what a septic tank is, now let us learn more about the how part. How does it work? Below is a simple point form note that we have listed that describes the gis of things:

• Receives wastewater from home through a network of pipes.
• Wastewater is separated into three layers: scum, liquid, and sludge.
• Bacteria in the tank break down the solids in the sludge layer, turning them into liquid.
• Liquid flows out of the tank through an outlet pipe to a drain field or leach field.
• Drainfield is made up of perforated pipes buried in gravel-filled trenches.
• Wastewater is slowly released into the drain field, which is further treated by the soil and ultimately absorbed.
• Regular maintenance is required to keep the system functioning properly (pumping out every 3-5 years).
• Non-biodegradable materials should be avoided to prevent blockages and damage to the system.

Septic systems work on the principle of bacterial decomposition, . In a septic system, wastewater from a home or building flows into a tank where solids settle to the bottom and liquids rise to the top. The liquids are then discharged into a drain field, and further treated by soil and natural bacteria.
The bacteria in a septic system break down the organic matter in the wastewater through a process called anaerobic digestion, which does not require oxygen. This process produces gases such as methane and carbon dioxide, which are released into the atmosphere.

While some advanced septic systems incorporate aeration to enhance the treatment process, the traditional septic system operates without it. In fact, introducing too much oxygen into a septic tank can disrupt the anaerobic digestion process and lead to system failure.

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Lastly, if you do run into any problems like a smelly backyard where the tank is situated, or backflow sewage, call your professional local plumber near you, immediately as these symptoms may cause serious damage to your home, or the tank. If you ever wonder what kind of waste management system you may have, call your local authority like the city, and you’ll know more about your home.


What is a septic tank, and how does it work?

A septic tank is an underground tank that collects, treats, and disposes of wastewater from your home. It works by separating the solids and liquids in the waste and breaking down the organic matter with bacteria, after which the liquid waste is discharged into the drain field.

How often should I pump my septic tank?

The frequency of septic tank pumping depends on various factors like the size of the tank, the number of people in the household, and water usage. However, it is generally recommended to pump the septic tank every 3-5 years to ensure optimal performance.

What are the signs that my septic tank needs to be pumped?

Some of the signs that indicate your septic tank needs pumping include slow drains, bad odors, gurgling sounds from the plumbing system, and sewage backups in the home or drain field.

What should I do if my septic tank is overflowing?

If your septic tank is overflowing, you should immediately stop using water in your home and contact a licensed septic system professional for assistance. Avoid trying to repair the system on your own, as this can lead to further damage and expensive repairs.

How can I prevent septic tank backups and clogs?

You can prevent septic tank backups and clogs by practicing proper septic tank maintenance, including regular pumping, avoiding flushing non-biodegradable materials down the toilet, and being mindful of water usage in your home.

Can I use a garbage disposal with a septic tank system?

Using a garbage disposal with a septic tank system can increase the amount of solid waste in the tank and lead to more frequent pumping. It is recommended to limit the use of a garbage disposal or avoid using one altogether.

How can I maintain my septic tank system to ensure optimal performance?

To maintain optimal performance of your septic tank system, you should have it inspected and pumped regularly, avoid flushing non-biodegradable materials down the toilet, be mindful of water usage, and avoid planting trees or shrubs near the drain field.

What are the environmental implications of a failing septic tank system?

A failing septic tank system can have significant environmental implications, including groundwater contamination and damage to nearby ecosystems. It is important to address septic tank issues promptly to prevent environmental damage.

How much does it cost to install a septic tank system?

The cost of installing a septic tank system varies depending on various factors like tank size, soil type, and local regulations. On average, the cost of installing a septic tank system in Canada ranges from $4,000 to $15,000.

for septic tank installation in the Toronto area or Canada?

Are there any regulations or permits required Yes, there are regulations and permits required for septic tank installation in the Toronto area and Canada. It is important to work with a licensed septic system professional who is familiar with local regulations and can obtain the necessary permits for installation.

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