If you live in a remote or rural place with no access to a modern sewage system, your home or business almost certainly has a septic tank system. Septic tanks are an excellent method to deal with wastewater on your property utilizing simple technology combined with nature’s natural processes.
However, the precise types of goods, waste, and chemicals that may be flushed down your property’s various drains must be watched carefully. Although they are efficient in their own right, septic tanks are far more finicky than standard sewage systems about what they will absorb.
The improper things and beverages can wreak havoc on an otherwise healthy septic system, requiring a professional to come to your property for potentially expensive repairs and cleaning.
You can save money while maintaining your facilities in excellent working order by keeping everything clean and maintained. You may prevent any stinky ruptures from leaking into your grounds or even backing up into your own toilets by keeping everything tidy.
In this article, we’ll explain what septic tanks are for, what’s safe to put in them, and what NOT to put in them. Hopefully, you’ll have a better understanding of why you should invest in a septic system, as well as whether or not one is appropriate for your property.
What Are Septic Tanks Used For?
Septic tanks are a type of sewage treatment that is becoming increasingly popular in urban areas. Septic tanks are used to treat human waste in places where a centralized sewer system isn’t available. They’re generally sunk underground outside the main structure, near where people live and work, and they dispose of wastewater by flushing it down toilets.
The kitchen sink, dishwasher, bathtub, laundry room, and toilet are among the many sources of wastewater. This water is generally more than 99% liquid.
Instead of sending all this daily unwanted runoff to a faraway municipal treatment facility, your septic tank takes care of it on your own property. The wastewater is processed within the tank and then dispersed via a series of pipes deep into the surrounding earth where nature can break down these organic materials naturally and safely.
How Do Septic Tanks Work?
To put it another way, a septic system is made up of two key elements: a tank and an absorption field. The last pipe that brings all of the wastewater from your house, school, or business to one final septic tank is straight downhill sloping and driven entirely by gravity.
A septic tank is a waterproof housing that’s usually constructed of concrete or specialized plastic and situated beneath the surface of your property. The tank collects all this water, which then breaks it down naturally by through natural processes over time.
The organic matter in this runoff water will begin to separate into three parts once it is left to its own devices. The oils and grease on top will form scum. Solids, known as sludge, will start to settle at the bottom. What remains floating in the middle between the two is almost entirely a liquid called effluent.
Over time, the tank’s natural bacteria will begin to decompose the biodegradable material and prepare it for dispersal. The accumulation of slime oils and sludge solids will mount over time, requiring a skilled to empty it out.
It is then sent from the septic tank into the drain field and away from your property.
The outgoing liquid is funnelled into perforated plastic pipes or underground gravel ditches, which then carry it out and distribute it to a larger soil absorption area, allowing the ground itself to complete the rest of the treatment naturally.
The runoff from your home naturally contains a variety of germs and microorganisms that may be harmful to you. Although this runoff is acidic, the microbes in it begin to filter and destroy the bacteria, neutralizing any remaining unpleasant odours or toxicity. It’s not only efficient but also environmentally responsible.
What Can Go in Septic Tanks?
There are a few factors that may effectively be handled within the septic tank system. The following are some of your best practices:
- When it comes to personal cleanliness, use ‘green’ and biodegradable cleaning products.
- Even organic foodstuffs, fruits and vegetables can get down the garbage disposal if they’ve rotted or perished. However, you should not misuse your garbage disposer. A better alternative is a compost bin for all of your organic leftovers and peelings from potatoes. When it comes to your kitchen drain, be sure to clean it out on a regular basis. If you’re not able to scrape dirty plates into the trash and install a food catcher in your sink.
- Only use toilet papers that are thin and manufactured especially for septic tanks.
- Water-efficient showerheads, dishwashers, and washing machines are all worth a try. Showering for an excessive amount of time or using too much water can put a lot of strain on your septic system.
- Finally, only water, toilet tissue, and human waste should be sent down your pipes. Anything that cannot be broken down organically is never acceptable and will only cause you aggravation in the long run.
What Shouldn’t Go in Them? (And Why?)
When moving from a location with a centralized sewer system, home or property owners must change their attitude and waste disposal routines considerably.
It can all be rather tough at first, but once you’re used to the distinctions, you’ll discover that it’s not much more difficult than recycling.
The most essential thing to remember is that your septic tank is not a trashcan. Anything non-biodegradable should not be poured down your sink or toilet.
Of course, many hazardous items are also proscribed in normal plumbing systems, but the consequences of dealing with septic tanks can be far more serious.
Septic tanks can easily take up to 90% of the regular sewage you would normally flush away in a modern city, but the following are the most hazardous exceptions:
- Surprisingly, coffee grinds are one of the most common offenders. Even if they’re passed through a waste disposal unit, coffee grinds disintegrate too slowly and might clog your pipes.
- Cigarette butts, cat litter, kitchen towels, contraceptives, nappies, and other similar items can never be dumped into a septic tank system.
- Toilets with acid chemicals or bleach. These substances can harm the beneficial microorganisms that live in the septic system. Instead, make an effort to utilize natural, ecologically friendly cleaners.
- Paints, varnishes, oils, and other chemicals that are not paint-related should all be disposed of at official waste sites in your area. Never pour them down the drain.
- Grease, fats, and drippings are highly harmful to septic tanks. Bacon fat and other frying oils should be collected and thrown away with the regular trash. In addition, a grease catch between your kitchen sink and your sewage tank is also a smart move. These oils build up on the scum layer within the tank and eventually pollute the soil drainage region surrounding it. Bacteria that are released into contaminated earth can’t be naturally handled.
- Antibiotics and antibacterials can wreak havoc on the fragile ecosystem of microorganisms that break down your organic runoff. Even human waste from persons taking prescription drugs may have an impact on your sewage treatment system. All of your unused medications should be handed back to your local chemist.
Looking After Your Septic Tank
As you may have noticed, septic systems are simple yet clever devices that process wastewater from your property when you don’t have access to a sewage line.
They separate oils and solids from the liquid, and send the effluent water out into the soil of your property. Naturally occurring microorganisms in the septic tank and around the site consume away at the most overwhelming odors and germs, completing sewage treatment naturally.
However, septic systems are sensitive, and they need a substantially greater level of attention than a typical house in order to function properly. The landowner must carefully maintain this equilibrium by controlling what is disposed of down the toilets, sinks, and drains on their property.
A septic tank, like a car, will need regular maintenance in the same manner as any other mechanical device. Even with the above recommendations, there is always a risk of an accident. A septic tank professional must visit your property and perform an inspection and cleaning after every three to five years depending on the size of the system.
Contact OMDI if you would like to find out more about Septic Tanks