How Does a Septic Tank Work?

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Schedule regular septic system cleaning for peak performance!

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A septic tank system is an underground wastewater treatment system that, when built appropriately, can last for generations. You commonly find septic tanks in rural areas, where centralized sewer systems are more difficult to install and manage. Such systems utilize a combination of natural resources and innovative technology to treat wastewater stemming from household plumbing. Typically, the bathroom, kitchen drain, and laundry room all run directly to the septic tank. Here, organic matter is digested, and floatable matter is separated, along with solids.

How a Septic Tank Works

Thanks to the Environmental Protection Agency, homeowners have a better understanding of how a modern septic system works:

  • All water running from your house enters the main drainage pipe leading directly to the septic tank.
  • The septic tank, which is buried underground and is a water-tight container, holds wastewater long enough for solid materials to settle at the bottom and begin dissolving. Oil and grease float to the top as a layer of scum.
  • Any liquid wastewater then exits the septic tank via the drainfield.
  • A drainfield is a shallow, covered excavation made of unsaturated soil. The pretreated wastewater is sent through the piping onto a porous surface, which allows the wastewater to filter into the surrounding soil. The soil then treats and disperses the wastewater. If overloaded, you may experience wastewater flooding, which could create a backup in the toilet or sink.
  • Lastly, wastewater percolates into the soil, where harmful bacteria is naturally removed, along with viruses and other contaminants.

Signs of a Failing Septic Tank

If your home’s septic tank is beginning to fail, you’ll notice a few common signs beforehand. It’s crucial to keep an eye on such symptoms. Otherwise, you risk contamination and costly water damage restoration and repairs. Here are a few signs of a failing septic tank:

  • Sewage backup in the toilets, drains, and sinks in your home.
  • Slow drainage in every plumbing system.
  • Gurgling noises stemming from within your home’s plumbing.
  • Standing water or noticeable damp patches near the septic tank.
  • Foul odors escaping the septic tank or drainfield.

Septic Tank Cleaning

Every few years, schedule professional septic tank cleaning. If a septic tank is not properly cleaned on occasion, toxins and antibacterial will begin to form, killing the vital bacteria that helps break down waste.

Furthermore, your average household cleaner, which can be bought at any store or supermarket, contains chemicals that lead to sludge and solid waste in the septic tank. Then, you’ll likely deal with a septic system failure. By failure, we mean solid waste from within the system overflows or blocks the entire system. You’ll have a backup in your home, which allows harmful bacteria and viruses into your household.

If you’ve experienced issues with your plumbing system and need professional assistance, including repair and cleaning, contact Pratt Plumbing by calling 806-373-7866. We have you covered when it comes to your residential plumbing system needs in Amarillo!

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