Did you recently purchase a home that has a septic tank, but you have always been in a home that was connected to a city sewer system? If so, you're likely wondering how your septic tank works so that you can understand it better. Here is what you need to know about this waste management system.
Waste Separates Into Three Layers
Be aware that all wastewater that goes down the drains of your homes will enter the septic tank. This includes water from showers, sinks, toilets, washing machines, and dish washers. This means that the septic tank needs to process all wastewater, no matter how clean or dirty it is.
When the wastewater empties into the first compartment of the septic tank, it will naturally separate into three layers. There is a top layer of scum, a middle layer of liquid, and a bottom layer of sludge.
Sludge Degrades Over Time
There is a misconception that a septic tank is just a tank that holds wastewater and needs to be drained when it is full. That is not true, since the sludge in the tank actually degrades over time. This happens due to the microbes found in the bacteria that actually break down the sludge by eating it.
Excess Water Enters the Second Compartment
The liquids will rest in the middle of the first compartment and enter the second compartment through a baffle. The microbes further break down the solids found in the wastewater in the second compartment. If the water that enters the septic tank is mostly clean, there will not be much bacteria within the water to breakdown.
Treated Water Is Discharged to the Drainfield
All of the water that is at the top of the second compartment will be discharged from the tank where it enters the drainfield. This is done by running a pipe out of the septic tank, with holes in the pipe that allow the water to escape. The drainfield is constructed using material like gravel so that the wastewater can flow into the ground beneath the surface.
If too much water enters the septic tank and is discharged into the drainfield all at once, it is possible for the drain field to become oversaturated. The ground above the drainfield can become wet, and drains can even start backing up into your home.
Reach out to a septic tank plumbing specialist for more information.