How Does A Septic Tank Work?
While modern plumbing and sanitation is a necessity for many, you don't actually need to use your city's sewers. Instead, you can install a septic tank, which will then break down your waste in a more environmentally-friendly manner. To help you decide if a septic tank is right for you, here is an overview of how they work:
The General Process
With a septic system, when you flush your toilet, everything flows down into a steel tank that is somewhere under your property. This tank can hold several thousand gallons, but only a smaller fraction of that will actually be solid waste, with the vast majority being dirty water.
In that tank, there are a number of different types of bacteria. These bacteria are excellent at breaking down human waste and other organic products, which means that they will break down your waste over time. Over time, your waste will change from solids to its constituent nutrients and liquids. Once it is in this form, it can then be pushed out of the tank and into the drain field. Once there, it will simply be absorbed back into the dirt, where its nutrients will help enrich the soil.
Inside the septic tank, there are three crucial layers:
On the top, you have the scum. This is composed of everything that is less dense than water, which is what allows it to float instead of sink. In most cases, this is made up of fats and grease. You want to keep the size of this layer to a minimum, since it can clog up your pipes and cause problems.
In the middle, you have the effluent, which is mostly just dirty water. This should be the biggest layer by far, but over time, it will grow smaller proportionally to other layers. This means that you need to get your septic tank inspected and cleaned out once every few years, because if the other layers get too big, then your septic tank could stop working and your waste could really start to pile up.
Finally, you have the sludge, which is made up of solids that are more dense than water. This layer rests at the bottom of the tank and will always be present as long as you have waste to flush into your septic tank. Over time, the layer will be broken down and passed through the system, but you will always be adding more every time you flush solid waste down the toilet. Contact a company like Southern Sanitary Systems Inc to learn more.