Unsewered developments, remote properties and older homes often rely on the use of septic tanks to dispose of household wastewater and sewage waste. Although some areas will no longer permit the installation of a septic system, if mains wastewater disposal systems are not available, septic tanks are the most common wastewater system used.
This article will provide a rundown of everything related to septic tanks, such as what they are, how they work, installation, pump outs, maintenance, and more. Having this knowledge is important to avoid home drainage problems in the future.
What Is a Septic Tank System and How Do They Work?
A septic tank system is a basic sewerage storage and treatment facility commonly found in unsewered domestic developments. Household wastewater disposed of in a kitchen, bathroom or laundry passes through into the septic tank located under the property.
The septic tank stores the wastewater - also known as effluent - and breaks down the solid waste through settling and anaerobic processes. After this, the effluent is distributed through leach drains where the water can flow into the gravel and then on into the surrounding soil.
Why Do You Need to Pump Out a Septic Tank?
As a septic system accumulates liquid waste, the volume of the tank is reduced. The sewerage stored within your tank can produce disease-causing parasites and micro-organisms which can be detrimental to your health and safety.
In order for your septic system to handle household waste effectively and safely and prevent diseases from spreading, it’s vital that septic tanks are regularly pumped and maintained.
What Are the Warning Signs of an Unhealthy Septic Tank?
Although it cannot be seen from inside your home, there are many signs that can indicate that your septic tank may need scheduled or emergency maintenance. These include:
- Strong and unpleasant smells (rotten egg-like gas is common).
- Toilets and drains are struggling to clear.
- Grass around the septic tank area is darker green and thriving well.
- Liquid waste overflows.
- Wet areas near or on top of the septic tank.
If you have noticed any of the above warning signs or your septic tank hasn’t had any maintenance in the last 12 months, you should contact your local liquid waste disposal professionals for a health check.
How Often Should a Septic Tank Be Pumped Out?
On average, home septic tanks should be pumped out every two to five years to ensure that the system is functioning at peak condition. However, a septic tank pump-out may be required more often depending on how many litres your septic tank holds, and how many people are in your household.
Over time, it’s commonplace for your home’s septic tank to overflow or become blocked. Periodic septic tank pumping will help with the following issues:
- Eliminates bad odours
- Prevents sewer and drain blockages
- Minimises discharge of raw sewerage
- Prevents damage to pumps and/or sand filters clogging
- Prevents slow draining showers and sinks, and toilets that won’t flush
How Is a Septic Tank Pumped Out?
Septic systems generally consist of one single tank or two tanks connected by a pipe. The latter is designed to be used by up to ten people. However, all septic tanks have sets of drainage receptacles known as soakwells or lead drains. Failure of septic tanks usually means the drainage receptacles have failed.
Septic tanks are given a health check by measuring the sludge and scum layer. Because many systems are buried, you can locate your system through the original tank permits or by engaging with a professional like Tunnel Vision who can help expose your home’s tanks and inspect your sludge levels.
Once the levels have been recorded, the septic tank is emptied. Time and costs for this process will vary depending on the size and location of your tank. The septic tanks are then pumped, a technician will re-examine for any damage, and your septic tank will be re-sealed when all maintenance has been finished.
Get Help with Any Septic Tanks Perth-Wide with Tunnel Vision
There are many elements that go into the function of septic tanks - but Tunnel Vision has the skill and knowledge to assist. We work with both residential and commercial clients throughout Western Australia on everything from waste water to general household plumbing, sewage system works, and more.
Our friendly team is on duty 24 hours a day, so you'll always have access to our plumbing services when you need them most. Get in touch with us today to book a routine or emergency plumber.