How Does a Septic Tank Work?

A septic tank is an important part of your home that you may not ever give a second thought until something goes wrong with it. However, just as you would learn more about how your stove works or what protection insulation offers, you should know how your septic works. By knowing what it does, you will be better able to ensure it is used and maintained properly to prevent issues.

The Basics

A septic tank is a sewage treatment system. You will have one if you aren’t connected to a city sewer system. Systems can be either traditional or modern. What you have greatly depends on when it was installed. They all involve an underground tank, which collects the waste that is flushed through the pipes in your home. These are usually made of plastic, concrete, brick, fiberglass or PVC.

Traditional System

A traditional system uses aerobic and anaerobic bacteria to break down the waste. The aerobic bacteria require aeration to work, while the anaerobic bacteria do not, but they do produce a sulfur smell as a byproduct. Waste will travel from the tank through pipes to a leach field.

Modern System

A modern system, on the other hand, is more advanced. It uses chlorination to help disinfect waste material. Instead of a leach field, the treated waste is sprayed into a spray field. Modern systems have an advantage because they are equipped with monitors and alarms that will help you to be alerted to issues before big problems develop.

A septic tank is a modern solution to old outhouses where waste would just sit and leech into the ground. These systems provide a more sanitary solution to the very human issue of waste removal. While both traditional and modern systems work great, knowing which one your have can help to better ensure you stay on top of care to prevent problems that could pose a health hazard.