Understanding The Residential Septic Tank: Necessary Information For Homeowners

Posted on: 22 November 2021

Purchasing a home with its own private septic system can offer a bit of a learning curve for homeowners, especially those who have previously relied on public options to handle waste disposal. Since septic tanks are buried underground with only risers or other openings extending above soil level, many homeowners struggle to understand the basic construction of their system's septic tank and how it is designed to function. Homeowners who want to gain more knowledge about their septic tank can use the following information to shorten the learning curve and feel more comfortable with the idea of owning and maintaining a private septic system

Basic septic tank construction features

While there can be variations in the actual design, size, and materials used, septic tanks are manufactured to act as waterproof tanks capable of collecting and processing the solid and liquid waste produced by the home it serves. Most septic tanks manufactured today are made from durable materials like molded polyethylene or reinforced concrete. While metal tanks were once popular and may still be used in some instances, fewer installers use metal tanks today because of their tendency to corrode. 

Septic tank designs typically include three types of openings. The first is an inlet opening to allow waste to flow into the tank from the home through an attached pipe. Next, there are riser openings in the top of the septic tank to allow access for maintenance or pumping. Lastly, the outlet opening allows effluent to move from the tank for further processing, in a drain field, mound system, sand filter, or other processing option. 

Basic septic tank function 

As liquid and solid waste enters the tank, heavier waste components sink while lighter ones rise. Over time, a thick layer of sludge forms in the bottom of the tank, followed by a layer of effluent topped by a layer of scum. In a healthy, fully functional septic tank, colonies of bacteria work to consume and process the waste, forming effluent to be released from the tank to the drain field or other sewage processing option. 

Most residential septic tanks benefit from periodic pumping services to help reduce the level of waste inside the tank and keep it within a healthy level. The size of the tank, amount of waste produced in the home, and overall efficiency of the septic system will help to determine the actual pumping schedule that will be needed to keep the system healthy and functional. 

Homeowners who want to learn more about their septic tank and develop an optimal schedule for pumping services should take time to contact a reputable septic system service in their area.