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Managing a Septic Tank

If your home is not currently served by a public sewer, you may be using a septic system to treat and dispose of your waste water. When a septic tank is located in the correct position, designed and installed well and looked after correctly, it can prove to be an economical, simple, effective, safe and durable solution. However, to get optimal system performance, you will need to understand the methods for managing a septic tank correctly.

An incorrectly-managed septic tank can result in system failure, damage to a property, surface or groundwater, pollution with the potential to cause disease, and costly part replacements and repairs. To this end, managing a septic tank is a vital and essential exercise.

Let's start by understanding how a septic system actually works. A septic system comprises of two main parts - the tank itself and a soil absorption field or drain field. Wastes flows from a property into the septic tank. In the tank, solids are separated to the bottom where they are partially decomposed by bacteria to form a substance called sludge. Any liquid effluent from the septic tank is discharged into the soil absorption field where it is purified via a process of filtration and decomposition. The waste water is then forwarded to the groundwater system.

So, to get the best possible performance from your system, you will need to manage your septic tank correctly. It is recommended that septic tanks should be pumped once every 3-5 years - although this will differ, depending on the size of your tank and the amount of daily waste it has to cope with. You can carry out this exercise yourself, using a probe to measure the sludge in a tank and a purchased pump. However, it's important to take great care if you do try to pump your own septic tank as you may come into contact with unsanitary conditions and it can be an extremely messy process. To this end, many people prefer to enlist the help of a reputable septic tank pumping firm.

Many people believe that you can ensure the smooth operation of a septic tank using specialist products. It has been said that certain products can enhance a tanks performance and reduce the need to pump it as often. However, these solvents have not as yet been proven to make any significant difference and can actually contribute to more solids being carried into the drain field, causing clogging. If you are unsure about the products to use, it's always best to consult a qualified and experienced septic system engineer/repairer for advice.



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