Taking Care of Your Septic System

All modern buildings have plumbing in them, especially for waste removal. In fact, the very concept of plumbing dates back to the ancient Romans, who coated their pipes with lead, whose atomic symbol on the periodic table is Pb. This is where the modern term “plumbing” comes from. But today’s waste removal systems are more advanced than anything that the Romans had, and modern American houses and buildings are often connected to public utilities that send waste water to sewage treatment plants to purify it. In some cases, rural and remote communities or homes are too far from these public systems to be connected, so they make use of septic tanks and natural water filters instead. As many as 25% of all American homes today make use of septic systems, and a homeowner may regularly call upon professionals for septic tank treatment and cleaning. A septic tank and system may last a lot longer with septic tank treatment done on it, and septic tank treatment is vital if something is clogged or damaged. How does this system work? And when is it time for septic tank treatment?

Basics of the Septic System

One may start by reviewing how a typical septic system works. Dirty water from the house is flushed and arrives at the septic tank, where many helpful bacteria will help to break down solid organic waste. Particles will settle at the tank’s bottom to form a thick sludge that never leaves the tank, while fats and oils float to the top. There will be relatively clean water in between. After a few days of this, the relatively clean water will flow through a screen filter in the septic tank and further into the system, going through a series of pipes that are just below the surface. These pipes have nozzles and holes in them that allow this partially cleaned water to leak out, and that water will pass through loose soil and gravel in a field known as the drainage field. This completes the water purification system and allows clean water to re-enter the natural system. But what repair or maintenance needs might come up with such a system?

Septic Tank Treatment Methods

It should first be pointed out that the sludge in the tank has no means of leaving, and will continue to build up over time. So, a homeowner may use a long measuring stick (known as a “sludge judge”) to measure how high the sludge levels have reached in the tank. Once the tank is around half full, the homeowner may contact local septic tank pump crews who will arrive with a truck-mounted pump machine. Those experts will dig up the tank, open its access hatch, and use a tube to drew up all the sludge inside and clear out the tank. This may be done once every few years or so. But in other cases, the septic tank is quite old and worn out, and may start leaking or have other problems. If so, the tank may be removed and a new one will be installed. That new tank might in fact be larger than the old one, with more volume.

The filter screen leading further into the system may be damaged or clogged, and it should be cleaned off to restore water flow and filtration. The owner should not, however, simply remove the screen to eliminate a clog and fail to put it back, since this allows too-dirty water to flow into the system. A screen may be repaired or replaced if need be.

Meanwhile, the pipes further in the system may suffer their own problems. If too much debris is allowed to clog their insides and restrict water flow, that could back up the entire system. Such pipes can be dug up, and experts will subject them to hydrojetting; that is, intense blasts of water that scour them clean. Finally, rural homeowners should take care that no one drives any vehicles across the drainage field, since that will compress the dirt and gravel with the vehicle’s weight and block water from flowing through it. Border fences or signs may be posted to mark the drainage field for reference, so that no one drives across it by accident.

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