UNDERSTANDING is the Key to Proper Septic System Operation!
If given the choice, few would choose to pay full price for a half-done job. This information will help you know how to buy a quality septic tank pump-out which will yield a complete job at a reasonable price.
Meet Your Treatment Tank!
There are two kinds of treatment tanks and each has its own proclivities, maintenance needs and energy demands.
SEPTIC tanks contain an anaerobic environment. There is little or no oxygen present.
AEROBIC treatment tanks contain an oxygen rich environment.
Septic tanks are water tight boxes, usually made of concrete, with one or two compartments or chambers inside. Septic tanks receive ALL of the wastewater from the structure. Wastewater and the solids it carries enter the first compartment of the tank where they encounter a baffle. The baffle does two things. It slows down the material as it arrives through the building sewer, and it prevents surges or waves from moving through the liquid already in the treatment tank.
The heavier solid things settle to the bottom and the lighter things that float, float! On the bottom, bacteria break down the settled material which is now called sludge. This reduces the volume of material and releases gases that vent back through the building stack. The building stack is that short pipe that pokes through the roof above the bathroom.
The water that is between the floating debris and the sludge is called partially clarified liquid. Together, the sludge, partially clarified liquid and floating material is called SEPTAGE.
As wastewater arrives at the inlet to the treatment tank, an equal amount of liquid is forced out of the opposite end of the treatment tank. If ten gallons enter the tank, ten gallons leave the tank; it's that simple.
If large volumes are introduced, large volumes will leave. As the volume delivered increases and the time during which it arrives is shortened, turbulence in the tank increases. On wash day, for example, when three or more loads of wash are done, the turbulence increases significantly. This stirs-up the sludge particles and more of these particles have an opportunity to escape from the septic tank.
Aerobic tanks are water tight vessels, usually made of concrete, with two or more compartments or chambers inside. Aerobic tanks receive ALL of the wastewater from the structure. Wastewater and the solids it carries enter the first compartment of the tank where they encounter a baffle. The baffle does two things. It slows down the material as it arrives through the building sewer, and it prevents surges or waves from moving through the liquid already in the treatment tank.
Compared to the relative tranquility of first chamber, the second chamber's turbulence is where the action is! While different manufacturers create the turbulence with different technologies, the goal is the same...break down the solids rapidly and introduce large volumes of air into the effluent. The air sustains the oxygen-hungry aerobic bacteria. These bacteria are more lively and more efficient than the bacteria in a septic tank. The result is a cleaner looking, less odorous final effluent.
Research and science have shown that by delivering cleaner effluent to the soils underlying an absorption area, their work is diminished and the absorption area will enjoy a longer life.
If it goes down the drain, it ends up in the treatment tank!
People put a lot of things down the drain that have no business being there! It is far easier to explain what can go down the drain than explain what cannot. There are five rules of thumb to help in this regard. It can go down the drain with the washwater if...
it came from your body (urine and feces)
- you used it to wash your body
- you used it to wash your clothes
- you used it to wash your home or the things in it
- you used it to wash your food
PROVIDED that you are using these materials and products in accordance with their manufacturers' instructions.
No matter what the manufacturer says, SOME THINGS SHOULD NEVER BE FLUSHED! These include...
- feminine hygiene & sanitary products
- cat litter (teach your cat to use the toilet correctly)
- photographic processing chemicals
- paint and paint brush, spackling and related washing and clean-up water
- unused medicines
- "flushable" toilet brushes
- cleaning rags, paper towels and similar items
But What About Garbage Grinders?
Garbage grinders introduce large volumes of finely chopped food particles. These particles are from (formerly) living plants and animals; they are organic material. Increasing the amount of organic material in the treatment tank gives the bacteria more to eat...but there are no more bacteria present to do the job!
The sludge will accumulate faster, and there will be more particles suspended in the partially clarified liquid. The result is that more of these particles will escape! This is not a good thing.
Click to see our Septic Tank Gallery . Be advised, these are graphic pictures.