septic tank pump out

The Ultimate Septic Tank Guide

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.  

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What Is a Septic Tank System and How Do They Work?

A septic tank system is an underground wastewater treatment structure commonly used in areas lacking centralised sewer systems. These systems are designed to efficiently treat and dispose of household septic waste and liquid wastewater through a simple yet effective process, utilising natural processes to decompose and filter household waste.

The system operates by receiving wastewater from the household plumbing network via an inlet pipe. This pipe channels the incoming liquid wastewater and septic waste directly into the septic tank.

Once inside the tank, the wastewater naturally separates into three layers: solids settle at the bottom forming sludge, oils and grease float to the top as scum, and the middle layer consists of relatively clear water known as septic tank effluent.

The septic tank is designed to retain the solids and scum, while the septic tank effluent, now partially treated, flows out of the tank through an outlet pipe. This outlet pipe then leads the effluent to a drain field, also known as a leach drainer septic drain field, where further treatment occurs.

Here, the effluent permeates through the soil, which acts as a natural filter, removing harmful bacteria, viruses, and certain nutrients, effectively treating the wastewater before it eventually reaches groundwater.

The efficiency of a septic tank system hinges on its ability to separate and store septic waste while allowing the clear effluent to move into the environment safely.

Regular maintenance and inspections by professionals, such as those from Tunnel Vision, ensure that both the inlet and outlet pipes remain clear of blockages, and the system operates effectively, preventing backups and ensuring the safe treatment of household wastewater

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 such as harmful coliform bacteria 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 leach drains. Failure of septic tanks usually means the drainage receptacles or leach drains 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. 

How Do You Maintain a Septic Tank?

After a septic tank installation, regular maintenance can help you avoid overflows of waste and septic tank emergencies. To prevent smaller problems escalating into major ones, make sure you properly dispose of waste and implementing the following tips:

  • Don’t put harsh chemicals or paint down the drain.
  • Avoid planting trees and shrubs with deep roots near your septic tank system.
  • Use a trained technician to pump the system.
  • Don’t flush items down the toilet.
  • Conserve water through Energy Star appliances, fixing leaking faucets and repairing running toilets to maintain an efficient system.
  • Allow as little amount of fat and grease to enter into the drains.

Regularly maintaining and pumping your home septic tanks is paramount in preventing long term sewerage issues. To arrange a health check or to find out more information about septic tank pump-outs, contact our trained professionals today

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. 

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

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