Nearly every home and public building in the United States is linked to a sewage utility. Many such buildings in urban or suburban areas are connected to public utilities, while many rural and remote homes are instead connected to what is called a septic system. A septic tank and its related pipes and filters can do a fine job disposing of sewage safely, and a plumbing company can be hired every so often to check it for problems or install new parts. Septic tank cleaning should be done regularly to prevent the tank from filling up too much, and professionals with a truck-mounted pump can handle such septic tank cleaning. Plumbing repairs may sometimes be needed if something inappropriate for the system was flushed, and a plumbing service may never be far away. What is there to know about a septic tank and septic tank cleaning?
Septic System Basics
If a home is not connected to a public sewage utility, then it is connected to a septic system instead. Such a system will run its full operation right there on the property grounds, and there are a few steps that sewage will follow in such a setup.
Once dirty water is flushed from the property and into the septic system, it all collects in the septic tank, a large underground tank that can hold a lot of material. In here, fats and greases will float to the top, and bacteria cultures will break down solid waste and allow it to collect at the bottom. The solid material condenses into a thick sludge, while the water above it is relatively clean. Water may sit in the septic system for a few days while this work is being done.
At this point, the water is pumped out of the septic tank, and it flows through a filter to remove more solid particles as it enters pipes. This pipe system will branch out in several directions just under the ground’s surface, and here, water may leak out by design. Holes and nozzles allow water to leak from the septic system and flow through loose dirt and gravel, which acts as a natural filter. This dirt and bacteria scrub the water clean as it re-enters the natural water system. The septic system is now complete.
Septic Tank Cleaning and Care
A septic tank system is simple but effective, but it will need proper care and maintenance or problems may develop. For one thing, vehicles should not be driven across the drainage field, which is where the water flows into the ground for filtration. The weight of vehicles can compress the soil and pack it, making it too dense for water to flow. This can back up the system.
Another issue is flushing the wrong materials into the septic system. Materials that cannot break down easily, such as baby diapers, cigarette butts, or moisturized hand towels, will simply clog the system. Another issue, meanwhile, is failing to keep the filter clean and in good shape. If the filter between the tank and pipes is clogged, then water cannot flow easily, and this backs up the entire system. But the filter should not simply be removed to improve flow, since too-dirty water will get further into the system. Instead, the filter can be removed, cleaned, and put in place. If the filter is damaged, it should be replaced at once.
A septic tank still needs some care even if it is not being misused. For example, the sludge that builds up in the main tank has nowhere to go, and it will continue to build up over time. Therefore, the property owner is urged to measure the sludge level regularly, and this can be done with a measuring stick known as a “sludge judge.” Once the sludge level is high enough, professionals can be called in, and they will have a truck with a strong pump. This pump can empty out the septic tank in one session, and this work may be done once every few years.
The pipes in the system may get clogged, too, and this can be a problem. Crews can be hired to dig up these pipes, then blast pressurized water through them to clear out any debris coated to their inner surfaces.