You might have heard about septic tanks in the past. But, how much do you know about them? For example, why do they exist and why do some people use them? Are they just for agricultural use or can they get used in a residential setting?
There will be some situations where you will need to consider getting a septic tank. If you want to learn more about them, you’ve come to the right place! Today, I will tell you how they get used and why you might wish to have one. Here is what you need to know:
What is a septic tank system?
In a nutshell, they are underground wastewater treatment systems. They use a combination of manmade and natural technology to treat wastewater.
Examples that get treated include bath water, drains and laundry. In essence, it’s a small-scale sewage treatment system on the grounds of your property.
Why would you need a septic tank system?
The primary reason for getting that system installed is if you don’t have access to mains sewers. Usually, that applies to people that live in rural areas. Of course, if your home is near a mains sewer network, you can use that instead!
Some people assume that septic tanks are only used by the agriculture industry. But, they are just as popular with residential users too.
What happens to all the wastewater and sewage?
The process is quite straightforward. Here is how your wastewater gets treated by a septic tank system:
- All the wastewater runs out of your home from one pipe into the septic tank system;
- The system itself is all buried underground and encased in a water-tight container. It’s made out of concrete, fibreglass or polyethylene;
- It holds the wastewater long enough for the solids to settle down to the bottom, forming a “sludge.” Any oil or grease (“scum”) floats to the top;
- The liquid wastewater exits the tank into a drain field. It then “percolates” into the soil. Harmful bacteria and viruses get removed in a natural way.
Every so often, the sludge at the bottom of the tank needs to get pumped out and taken away. It’s a process that usually needs to happen every few years.
What happens if there is a leak?
For the most part, you shouldn’t experience any septic tank problems. But, if you do, it’s usually down to one of the following:
- Items like nappies and feminine hygiene products flushed down the toilet, blocking the pipes;
- Tanks not getting pumped out when they are full of sludge; and
- Damaged pipes due to tree roots or excavation work above ground.
The first two issues are the main culprits of a faulty system while the third is rare (but does happen).
Do I already have a septic tank system?
There are often clues or telltale signs that you might have one for your home. For instance, you live in a rural area with no provision for mains sewers. Your neighbours might have them, in which case it’s likely you do as well.
You can always check with the previous owner of your home. Although, to be honest, the details would have come up in a survey of your property.