Septic tanks are the sewage disposal systems for households that don’t have access to one provided by municipalities. The system relies on a combination of natural and technological methods to dispose of the sewage.
Before we jump to problems associated with the use of septic tanks, we need to understand how the system functions. Knowing the function of each component will give you a better ability to determine the cause of the problem that shows up in the system.
Septic System Basics
A septic system consists of a network of pipes, a tank and a drainfield.
The wastewater that flows out from your sinks, basins and toilets is carried by pipes to an underground, watertight container called the septic tank. The function of this tank is to separate the solid waste and accumulate it as sludge. The tank also works to decompose the waste.
Effluent that has been separated from solid waste is carried onto the drain field. The drain field is a bed of gravel, sand and soil. Water that moves through its tight pores is filtered and finally discharged into the soil beneath or the surface above.
Now that we have a basic understanding of the functions of the system, we can focus on the top three problems faced by septic tank users and work to their solutions.
Fixing the Top 3 Problems
Clogging in the System
As was explained above, the septic tank stores decomposed solid waste which gradually fills it up. If the sludge fills up completely, the tank overflows and clogs the system. If your septic system is clogged, you may experience sewage backing up in the toilets or water in basins draining slowly.
To avoid the problem of clogging you need to make sure the sludge in septic tank is pumped out at appropriate intervals, which usually ranges from 3 to 5 years.
However, there are also cases where the system clogs up much more frequently. If you too are facing this issue, then it is likely that an object is stuck in one of the pipes that carry water to the tank. Items such as wet wipes, paper towels or tampons can get stuck in the pipes and block the flow of waste through it. Installing filters that stop big objects to pass from your toilets and sinks can easily and cheaply fix this issue.
Damage in the Structure of Septic Tanks
Placing objects on top of septic tank can damage its structures. Often the tank is placed beneath driveways and parking spots. The force a car puts on the tank can weaken its walls and cause cracks to appear overtime. Similarly, placing weight on the drainfield can also be harmful since it can force the soil and gravel in the field to compact.
In the same way, tree roots can damage septic tank and the pipes around it. In order to fix this issue you need to make sure the tanks are properly placed and trees and shrubs around the system are cut down.
Imbalance in the Decomposition Process
Bacteria in the septic tank work to decompose waste. Dumping of toxic household chemicals and harsh cleaning products can harm the bacterial process and slow down the decomposition process. To solve this issue, the tank can either be pumped clear of the waste or septic system additives can be poured in the tanks to speed up the decomposition cycle.