Septic tanks are one of modern life's many conveniences. Septic tanks are essential if a person lives further away from a sewer system. How does a septic tank work? And how do you properly maintain them to avoid home water damage?

We'll explain the following:

First, the basics.

What Is A Septic Tank?

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A septic tank is a buried container, typically made of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene. It is used to treat and dispose of household wastewater in areas where a connection to a centralized sewage system is unavailable.

The water-tight tank separates solids and liquids and allows the liquids to flow out to a drain field for further treatment and dispersal.

Solids that have not broken down remain in the tank and must be pumped out periodically.

How Does A Septic Tank Work? The Basics

A septic tank uses the natural digestion and treatment process to clean household wastewater.

The tank connects to the main sewer line from the house, and all the wastewater flows into the tank. The tank separates the solids from the liquids.

Solids, called sludge, sink to the bottom of the tank. The lighter liquids, called effluent, flow from the tank to a drainage field. The drainage field is a network of pipes and trenches that distribute the treated effluent into the soil.

Solids in the tank break down, thanks to natural bacteria, which decompose the organic matter in the sludge.

This process reduces the volume of solids and creates a liquid called sludge effluent. The sludge effluent is held in the tank until it is pumped out by a septic service professional.

The soil further treats liquids that flow out of the tank into the drainage field. The soil filters out impurities and bacteria, which purifies the water. The clean water absorbs back into the groundwater.

It's crucial to maintain the septic tank by having it pumped and regularly inspected to ensure it continues to work correctly.

Septic Tank Vs. Sewer

A septic tank and a sewer are used for the treatment and disposal of household wastewater, but they are quite different systems.

A septic tank is self-contained and used in areas where a connection to a centralized sewage system is unavailable. Solids that have not broken down remain in the tank and must be pumped out periodically.

A sewer is different. It's a centralized system connected to a pipe network that transports wastewater from homes and businesses to a treatment plant. The wastewater is treated at the plant and then discharged into a body of water or recycled for use.

In short:

Where's My Septic Tank?

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Your septic tank's location will depend on your property's design and layout. In most cases, the septic tank is located underground, typically within a few feet of the house. It is usually situated in the front or back yard and is often near the house or the property's leach field. The tank may be buried underground and have a manhole or access point sticking out of the ground.

If unsure, contact the company that installed the tank, your local health department, or a septic service professional. They may have records of the tank's location or be able to locate it for you. Additionally, some contractors or plumbers have a ground penetrating radar to find the tank without digging.

Buying a property and need to know where the septic tank is? Ask for a septic inspection as part of the home-buying process. Don’t overlook this, as it could result in home repair and reconstruction in Murrieta.

How Often Should A Septic Tank Be Pumped?

The frequency of pumping a septic tank depends on several factors. This includes tank size, the number of people living in the household, and the amount of wastewater produced.

Generally, you should pump a septic tank every 3-5 years for a household of 4-5 people. However, it's always best to consult with a septic service professional or check with your local health department for recommendations specific to your area.

Have your septic tank pumped regularly to prevent solids from building up and clogging the tank. A clogged tank can lead to overflowing, back-ups in the pipes, and damage to the system. It can also lead to costly repairs.

A good rule of thumb is to have the tank inspected every three years and pumped when the inspector determines it's necessary.

An easy way to remember when to pump your tank is to write down the last pumping date. Jot it down on the lid of the tank or in your calendar. Schedule the next pumping from that date.

Notice signs of septic system failure, like slow drains, gurgling sounds, sewage odors, or wet spots on the ground? It may be time to pump your tank.

Common Septic Tank Problems

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Some common septic tank problems include the following.

Suspect any of these problems or notice any signs of septic system failure? It's important to immediately contact a professional to have the issue inspected and repaired.

Septic Tank Maintenance Tips

Here are some tips for maintaining your septic tank:

Following these maintenance tips can help ensure that your septic system continues to work correctly and reduce the likelihood of costly repairs.

Repairing Water Damage In Riverside County With Five Star Restoration

Whether it's a septic tank leak or a burst pipe, the Murrieta water damage repair experts are here. The team at Five Star Restoration will work alongside you to maintain, repair, and recover. 

Our reconstruction team is well-versed in overhauling properties in the wake of everything from ceiling leaks to dangerous storms.

Learn more about how Five Star Restoration's Murrieta water damage repair services can make life much easier.

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