If your home has a septic tank it is your responsibility as a homeowner to maintain it. Replacing your septic tank can be a major home improvement project, so keeping it in good working order is to your advantage. A well maintained septic tank system is also a must if you are planning to sell your home in the future. Here are the basics of septic tank systems and what you can do to keep yours in shape.
A normal septic tank system has four major parts. There is the pipe that goes from your home to the septic tank, the septic tank itself, a drainfield, and the soil around your yard and the drainfield. Some people worry about the waste in the wastewater contaminating the soil and drinking water. Microbes in the soil, however, will breakdown and digest most of these contaminates before they reach any water supply.
The pipe from your home carries all of the wastewater from your home out to the septic tank. The septic tank is watertight and made from a variety of materials, and is buried in your yard. Some of the newer septic tanks have risers that are level with the ground and have covers over them. These risers are very nice because they make inspecting and pumping the septic tank a much easier home improvement process.
Basically what a septic tank does is allow the solid material to separate from the liquid waste. Septic tanks usually have a screen or filter of some sort to prevent the solid waste from getting to the drainfield. To keep your septic tank system working efficiently, you must periodically pump out the sludge from the bottom. Doing this is the least expensive way to maintain your septic tank.
The drainfield is a portion of your land that treats the wastewater as it is pumped out of the septic tank. Each time more wastewater is expelled from the septic tank, the partially treated water is pushed farther away. If too much wastewater is pumped out at one time, the drainfield will flood and cause an overflow in your home or on the drainfield. This can be a messy and costly home improvement cleaning job.
The soil is considered a part of your septic tank system because suitable soil is necessary to adequately treat and filter wastewater. The soil will remove any viruses and harmful bacteria from the wastewater so that it does not become harmful to any nearby water supply.
It is imperative that you maintain your septic tank system properly. If you do not provide regular treatment and cleaning, you will be looking at a whole host of other issues. Replacing a septic tank can be a very costly home improvement job both in parts and in labor. If you abuse your drainfield you may be forced to find other ways to treat your wastewater. If you properly take care of your septic tank system though, you will have a reliable and efficient waste treatment system for many years.