Septic tanks are often the most overlooked and understated utility in our homes. They are constantly working, when we are eating, washing, bathing, etc.
What is a septic tank? A septic tank is a concrete or steel tank buried in the yard. The tank can hold up to 4000 liters of waste water. A septic tank is part of a septic system and other components of the septic system include:
i. The house sewer drain: This collects all discharges from toilets, showers, laundry, and sinks and transfers them to the septic tank.
ii. The septic tank: This collects all waste from household plumbing. The solids settle at the bottom while the lighter one floats and forms a layer of scum. The wastewater is then released into the absorption field.
iii. The distribution box: This takes care of distributing waste water released from the septic tank into the trenches of the absorption field.
iv. Trenches: Partially treated sewage are released into them.
v. The absorption field: They are made of trenches and pipes particularly designed for distribution. The waste water collected in these trenches and pipes are biologically treated by the surrounding soil.
vi. The vent: Allows gases that build up in the plumbing system to escape.
A septic tank is at the heart of any septic system. It is the most important aspect, and as such needs to be maintained regularly. Why bother with septic tank maintenance?
i. It costs less to maintain a septic system than to repair a faulty one.
ii. For health reasons. When septic tanks are not properly taken care of, inadequately treated water can be released into the environment, thereby causing health risks and problems.
iii. Failed septic systems can also cause property values to drop.
How can septic tanks be maintained? Here are 7 tips:
1. Regularly pump out when needed
It is advisable to regularly pump out the septic tank whenever needed. This will help keep decay at bay. Records of pumping should be kept for future reference too.
2. Don’t flush materials that don’t decompose easily
Avoid flushing materials like paper towels, medications, condoms, diapers, sanitary pads, cooking fats/oils, plastic, grease or bones. These materials don’t decompose easily and can clog the tank.
3. Locate the system
If access to your septic tank is blocked or buried, carrying out maintenance will be difficult. It is important to know where your septic system is and all the accompanying components.
4. Check the connections regularly
Regular uses like flushing the toilet, running water in the sinks, using the washing machine through its normal cycle will help confirm the system is working as it should.
5. Avoid garbage disposals
Garbage disposing can increase the amount of solids in the septic tank and in the absorption field which in turn fills it up faster. If garbage disposals must be used, the septic tank should be of a bigger size and it should also be pumped out more often.
6. Don’t plant trees or long rooted plants over the absorption field
Roots can grow into the absorption field and clog the system. Instead, plant grass or shrubs over the absorption field to avoid roots growing in.
7. Avoid parking heavy trucks or vehicles over the septic system
Don’t drive or park heavy equipment, trucks or vehicles over the septic system and its components.
Follow these 7 tips and you’ll surely enjoy a seamless septic system that poses no threat to your health.