How does a septic tank work?

This post was originally written in January 2016 and has been updated.

The septic tank and septic system are amazing working parts of your home that you rarely think about it or see. There are several different types of septic tanks and systems used today, however we will discuss the most common one, a conventional system.

All water goes into the septic tank

When you wash your clothes, dishes, hands, take a shower/bath or flush your toilet ALL of this water goes into your plumbing, into one main drainage pipe that connects directly into your septic tank through the inlet baffle.

Septic tank holds the waste water

The septic tank is a water-tight container that holds the waste water long enough to allow solids to settle down to the bottom (sludge), while the oil and grease float to the top (scum). The T-shaped outlet prevent the sludge and scum from leaving the tank and flowing into the drainfield.

The illustration below shows a septic tank needing maintenance, the scum layer is thick and the sludge layer has built up.

how does a septic tank work, graphic

Waste water flows into drainfield

Once the waste water reaches a certain level and leaves the septic tank and flows into the drainfield. The water evaporates and nature removes harmful coliform bacteria, viruses, and nutrients.

Understanding how your septic tank works can help you keep it working properly. Regular maintenance and inspections are important.

To prevent buildup, sludge and floating scum need to be removed through periodic pumping of the septic tank. Regular inspections and pumping are the best and cheapest way to keep your septic system in good working order. — EPA Home Owners Guide

“How often do I pump the septic tank?”

This is a common question for homeowners on a septic system. The Tennessee Health Department recommends septic tanks be pumped every 3-5 years. If you have a pump tank you should consider that being pumped every 1-2 years. Maintaining your septic tank on a regular schedule will keep your septic system working for many years.

Call Allgood Sewer and Septic Tank Service

For over a decade middle Tennessee has relied on us to pump their septic systems. When we pump your septic tank we will keep you on a regular maintenance plan with the free Reminder Program. Call Allgood today at 615-672-6969 or 615-230-9298 and schedule your septic tank pumping. More tips and information about septic systems can be found in the blog section.

Please follow and like us: