How does a septic tank work?
A septic tank works by treating the wastewater from a building’s plumbing fixtures such as toilets, sinks, showers, and washing machines. Here are the steps involved in the functioning of a septic tank:
- Wastewater flows from the building into the septic tank: The wastewater from the building flows through a pipe into the septic tank.
- Solid and liquid waste separation: Once inside the septic tank, the wastewater begins to separate into three layers: solid waste sinks to the bottom and forms a layer of sludge; lighter materials such as fats and oils float to the top and form a layer of scum; and the middle layer, which is mostly water, flows out of the tank and into the drain field.
- Bacterial digestion of waste: Inside the septic tank, bacteria present in the wastewater begin to break down and digest the organic matter in the sludge and scum layers.
- Effluent discharge: As the middle layer of water reaches a certain level in the tank, it flows out of the tank and into the drain field.
- Further treatment in drain field: In the drain field, the effluent from the septic tank is further treated as it seeps through layers of gravel and soil, where natural bacteria and microbes help break down any remaining pollutants before the treated water enters the groundwater system.
- Regular maintenance: Regular maintenance of the septic tank is necessary to ensure its proper functioning. The sludge and scum layers in the septic tank must be pumped out periodically by a licensed professional to prevent the tank from becoming too full and causing backup or other issues.
Overall, a septic tank works by separating and treating the wastewater from a building in a contained and controlled manner. By using natural bacterial processes and physical separation, it is possible to treat wastewater on-site and prevent it from polluting the environment.