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What Is a Septic Tank and How Does It Work?

1 in 5 houses in the US isn’t connected to a proper sewer system, which is why septic systems serve more than 60 million households nationwide. It’s a unique plumbing system that utilizes nature and technology to manage wastewater.

What is a Septic Tank?

A septic tank is a large underground container used to store and treat wastewater. It enables households to properly dispose of wastage from bathrooms, kitchens, and other sources by safely transporting it out into nature.

Septic tanks and all their related components are located below the ground surface. To ensure the safety of the household, these tanks are generally placed 50 feet away from the house.  They must also be situated at enough distance to avoid contaminating the water supply.

The most common materials used to construct a septic tank are concrete and plastic. These tanks are available in various sizes to accommodate different types of homes. They usually have a capacity of 1,000 to 1,500 gallons.

How Do Septic Tanks Work?

A septic system typically includes a tank, a field for soil absorption, and several discharge pipes. Organic matter is decomposed in the septic tank, while oil, grease, and other sediments are separated from the water. The treated water in the tank is discharged through pipes installed in the drainage unit that release the liquid slowly into the soil.

Step By Step Procedure

Many homeowners consider septic systems to be outdated or difficult to maintain. Understanding how the system works can enable proper maintenance.

Below, we’ve listed the step-by-step procedure for how a septic tank treats wastewater before discharging it into nature:

Step 1

The water from your house runs down through one main pipe into the system built underground.

Step 2

The wastewater is held in the tank long enough for solids to settle to the bottom and form sludge. Substances like oil and grease from dishwashers float to the top as scum.

Step 3

After separating it from waste, the liquid, also referred to as effluent, is discharged through a series of pipes.

Step 4

This water is transported to porous surfaces that filter into the soil. Once absorbed in the ground, the water eventually mixes in with groundwater.

Step 5

Finally, the water is filtered of harmful bacteria that either die or settle in the soil to aid in fertilization.

rows of commercial water drain fields

Now that you know about the components of a septic system, it should be easier for you to maintain your septic tank and leach fields. If you’re looking to hire a plumber in Palo Alto for regular inspection and maintenance for your septic system, consider Smart Plumber.

We’re a reputable company for plumbing in Palo Alto, California, with decades of combined experience.

Our team of plumbers in Palo Alto is experienced and reliable, offering top-quality plumbing at the best rate. Get in touch with a local plumber and know about our services by contacting us today!

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