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The Septic Tank and Drain Field

In a well-functioning septic system, wastewater enters the tank where heavy solid waste sinks and lighter liquids float. Bacteria break down the waste, and a flowing liquid stream leaves the tank for a drain field.

Septic Tank Armadale sells biological additives that promise to hasten the breakdown of septic tank sludge. But the bacteria in human feces will do this job just fine without the additives.

Septic Tank

Wastewater from sinks, toilets and washing machines flows into a septic tank. It’s a large, buried, water-tight container made of concrete, fiberglass or polyethylene. Depending on the number of bathrooms and the volume of home water usage, it can hold anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 gallons.

Inside the tank, weighty masses like feces and solid food waste sink to the bottom to form sludge. Oils and fatty substances float to the top to create a scum film. Bacteria break down these materials to make them harmless. The clear liquid waste that remains in the middle is called effluent. A basic septic tank design features partitions and a T-shaped outlet that prevent sludge and scum from leaving the tank and traveling into the drain field area where they could damage or clog pipes.

As bacteria break down wastewater contaminants, they release gases such as hydrogen sulfide. These gases must be released to avoid a build-up of pressure that could block or reverse the flow of liquid waste into the drain field. A vent pipe extends through the septic tank lid and is usually fitted with a charcoal filter to reduce odors.

A septic system relies on a septic tank, drain field, and absorption trenches to eliminate sewage waste from your home. You can help protect your septic tank and absorption field by avoiding flushing non-biodegradable items down the toilet. Cigarette butts, cotton buds or swabs, menstrual hygiene products and condoms can clog a toilet and cause a septic system to overflow or fail.

A septic tank links to the drain field through a network of underground perforated pipes. The treated wastewater enters the soil through a series of absorption trenches, where gravel and dirt filter it even more. This helps to eliminate harmful bacteria and viruses from entering groundwater supplies. A failing septic tank or drain field can pollute water supplies and create a toxic septic tank odor that can smell like rotten eggs. The best way to maintain your septic tank and drain field is to have them both inspected and serviced by a professional on a regular basis.

The septic tank is one big underground container that collects wastewater from household plumbing and stores it until bacteria break it down into gases and water. It is part of a simple onsite sewage system that treats waste in homes that are not connected to public sewer lines. These systems are most often used in rural areas.

Every time you flush a toilet, take a shower, wash clothes or do dishes, waste travels through a sewer line that slopes toward your septic tank. From there, the waste goes through a process called settling or digestion. Heavy solids sink to the bottom of the septic tank, while light solids, such as fats and oils, float to the surface. The liquid that remains is known as sludge. Liquid waste is pumped from the septic tank into a drain field, also known as an absorption field.

Septic tanks have compartments that separate the solid waste from the sludge and the liquid waste, which is called effluent. The distribution box then directs the effluent into a series of perforated pipes that are buried in a gravel or stone drain field. The effluent flows through the soil, where it is absorbed into the groundwater.

Some septic systems use chambers or other devices to treat the effluent before it enters the drainage field. This helps prevent premature clogging and bioclogging of the drain field. It is important to know which type of septic system you have so that you can make the best maintenance decisions.

You can help protect your septic tank and drainage field by avoiding items that cause build-up, such as coffee grounds, cigarette butts and synthetic fibers from laundry. You should also have your septic tank pumped at least once a year to remove the sludge that settles to the bottom of the tank and the scum layer that rises to the top.

Having your septic tank pumped periodically can reduce the need for expensive maintenance and repairs. You may be able to go two or three years between pumpings, depending on your household size and water usage. Your professional inspector should be able to give you a recommendation for how often your septic tank needs to be pumped.

When wastewater leaves your home, it goes through a pipe to the septic tank. The septic tank holds this wastewater for some time, so that solid waste sinks to the bottom and oil and grease floats to the top. Bacteria inside the septic tank do their best to break down this waste. After some time, the liquid wastewater (effluent) exits the tank and enters the drain field.

The septic tank’s inlet and outlet pipes are designed to carry this wastewater without clogging. However, a variety of factors can cause these lines to become blocked or clogged. These include adding a laundry room, garbage disposal, hot tub or large soak tub, adding more bedrooms, driving vehicles over the area causing soil compaction, not pumping and maintaining the septic tank on a regular basis, and other changes in water usage.

When wastewater reaches the drain field, it is distributed through a network of leaching pipes. This wastewater is broken down by natural bacteria and microbes in the drain field soil. However, the bacteria and microbes can’t do their job if the drain field is clogged or overloaded with wastewater.

A septic system’s drain field may be an absorption trench or a leaching bed. In either case, the drain field is built on a slope so that the wastewater flows into the soil and is slowly absorbed. The slope of the drain field and the soil conditions are important factors in determining the proper size for a septic system.

It is recommended that you not plant gardens or other edible plants in the drain field or around a septic tank or leaching bed. These crops can introduce dangerous bacteria or toxins into the environment. It is also a good idea to not place structures such as playgrounds, storage buildings or driveways over the drain field, as they can damage the tank and absorption system. This will help prevent septic system failure or the need for expensive repairs. If your septic system is having problems with the drain field, it’s important to have these issues resolved as soon as possible. Our team can use jetting to clear blocked lines and mechanical aeration to help restore the drain field to its optimal function.

A septic system’s distribution box, also known as the “d-box,” is located underground between the septic tank and the drain field. It moves partially treated sewage to the leach field and is essential for the proper function of your septic system. The d-box is typically made of concrete or fiberglass and has several outlets that allow wastewater to flow to various sections of the drain field.

As with the septic tank, it’s vital to have regular inspections of the d-box. A septic professional can inspect the distribution box to make sure it is functioning properly and evenly dispersing wastewater. They can also make any repairs or replacements that may be needed.

While it is possible to replace a septic tank distribution box yourself, this is generally a job best left to the professionals. It requires digging up the old d-box, disconnecting it from the rest of the septic tank system, and correctly installing the new one. This can be a very messy and complicated job that could result in major plumbing issues for your home if not done properly.

If you are experiencing plumbing problems even after having your septic tank pumped and inspected, it’s likely that your distribution box needs maintenance or replacement. In addition, if you’re noticing strong sewage smells throughout your home or yard, it could be an indicator that your distribution box has a clog in it that is allowing sewage to leak into the soil.

It’s important to have your septic tank and distribution box inspected at least every three to five years to make sure they’re functioning properly. However, since there isn’t solid waste in your d-box like there is in the septic tank, it doesn’t need to be pumped as often as your primary septic tank.

In general, a d-box should last 30 to 40 years with normal use and good maintenance. The lifespan of your d-box will depend on the material it’s made from and where it’s located. Concrete d-boxes can last 50 or more years, while plastic and fiberglass d-boxes have shorter lifespans.