A septic system and Waste Removal Perth is an alternative to a public sewer when it’s not feasible or practical to extend municipal pipes to your home. Wastewater flows through a pipe into a septic tank, where bacteria decompose the organic waste. Heavy solids sink to the bottom and form sludge; lighter waste floats to the top and becomes wastewater, known as effluent.
A septic tank is a large, water-tight container made of concrete, fiberglass or polyethylene. Wastewater from household plumbing flows into it, where heavy solids sink and are broken down by bacteria to form sludge. Lighter solids like fats and grease float to the top, where they partially decompose to create a layer of scum. The clear wastewater liquid in the middle, known as effluent, exits the tank and travels into the drain field.
The septic tank is buried underground and connected to the house’s plumbing by pipes. It’s important that the septic tank is in the right place because it’s surrounded by soil that filters and purifies it. Putting buildings, driveways, playgrounds or parking lots over the drain field can damage it, but even more serious is covering it with soil that prevents it from functioning properly.
In areas that aren’t served by a sewer system, septic tanks are used to separate solids and liquids from wastewater. The liquid part, called effluent, is deposited in the drain field where natural filtration takes place. During the filtration process, the soil naturally removes pathogenic organisms and other contaminants from the wastewater.
Unlike sewage treatment plants, septic systems can’t handle hazardous waste. That’s why it is so important not to flush chemicals, such as cleaning agents, paint thinners and pharmaceuticals, down a toilet. These can kill the microorganisms in a septic system that digest and treat household wastewater.
The septic tank is linked to the drain field by a distribution box that evenly distributes the effluent to the pipes in the drain field trenches. This is important because it prevents overloading one area of the absorption field.
The drainage field is a long, rectangular area of soil that sits about a foot or two below ground level in the backyard. It’s filled with gravel and sand that acts as a filter to further clean the effluent before it enters a water supply well or the aquifer. The drain field can be used for residential and commercial properties. However, in sandy or limestone soils, the drain field may not perform the necessary filtration to protect against disease-causing pathogens and other contaminants.
The septic system’s drain field is where liquid effluent, or wastewater, is released from the tank into soil. As the effluent percolates through this soil absorption field, it is naturally broken down by microbes and bacteria. When the drain field functions properly, this natural filtration and cleansing process protects ground water and surface water.
Several issues may cause drain field failure, including improper disposal of waste, excessive water use, and soil that is too compacted to allow wastewater to absorb into it. Some signs of drain field trouble include septic tank overflow, odor, and effluent surfacing above the soil surface.
Preventing the causes of drain field failure will help prevent costly repairs. This is done by avoiding putting anything in the toilet or down the sink that should not be there, such as fats, oils, and grease (FOGs). These solids can clog pipes, resulting in overflow from the septic tank or a backup in the house plumbing.
It is also advisable not to plant shrubs or trees over the drain field. The roots from these plants can clog the septic system pipes. Instead, choose low-maintenance ground covers and sun-loving perennials over the drain field. Avoid planting vegetables over the drain field, as they need daily irrigation and can contaminate ground and surface water with harmful bacteria.
Another option is to have a portable aerobic treatment unit installed. This device injects oxygen into the sewage system, encouraging the activity of healthy bacteria and breaking down organic waste so that it can pass easily through the soil.
Finally, it is important to minimize traffic over the drain field area. Heavy vehicles, especially trucks, can crush the buried pipes. In addition, people walking or playing in the area can compress the soil, preventing wastewater from properly absorbing into it.
Some systems use a distribution box that equally disperses the wastewater into different trenches within the drain field for final treatment. Other systems use a pump to push the wastewater directly into the drainfield. Both are effective systems, but the difference is how the wastewater is treated once it is in the soil.
The absorption field is a network of pipes in the soil that treat household sewage. It is sized for the soil conditions on your property and household sewage input. For example, the number of toilets, showers and sinks, the amount of sewage that goes down drains at one time and the soil percolation rate determine the size of your absorption field.
After primary treatment in the septic tank, the liquid effluent flows through a distribution device, which ensures that equal amounts of the wastewater go to each pipe in the absorption field. This allows the soil to filter and partially digest the sewage, reducing nutrient levels in groundwater.
The distribution device connects to the absorption field through watertight 4-inch diameter pipe. The watertight pipe should slope a minimum of 1/4 inch per foot toward the absorption field to prevent clogging. The lateral pipe connections should be made of durable, corrosion-resistant materials.
Absorption fields can be arranged in trenches or beds. Trenches are generally preferred on flat or sloping sites because they allow the sewage to make more sidewall contact with the soil. Beds are usually used on sites with up to 5 percent slope or on smaller lots that don’t have room for trenches. For both types of absorption fields, a curtain drain is installed to divert subsurface and surface water from the absorption area.
When constructing the absorption field, construction should be done when the soil is dry. Construction in wet soil increases the risk of puddling, smearing and soil compaction that reduces the permeability of the absorption field and can lead to system failure. After the absorption field is constructed, you should regularly brush or rake the soil surfaces to help maintain their integrity.
The most common reasons for a malfunctioning absorption field are overuse of plumbing fixtures, inadequately designed drainage systems and a seasonally high water table during rainy periods that saturates the soil. If you notice the absorption field becoming full of sludge, have your county health department sanitarian inspect it to determine whether it is properly sized for the site and household sewage input. If it isn’t, you’ll need to enlarge the field or build a new one. You can minimize the demand on an existing absorption field by installing water conservation devices such as low-flow toilets, faucet aerators and shower heads.
Keeping your septic system functioning properly requires periodic septic tank pumping. A professional septic tank pumper will remove your septic tank contents by suctioning them up through a tube that is then carried away to the waste treatment plant where it will be processed and recycled as clean soil or energy. The process can take up to a few days and is a messy procedure. It’s best to have professionals like Metro Plumbing, Heating, and Air carry out this job for you.
A septic tank lift station is a large storage container with a pump that’s sited above ground and connected to the septic or sewer system via a pipe that’s either buried underground or hidden from view. This pump is turned on by a float switch that can monitor the level of waste in the tank and activate the pump when the container is full. It churns up and pushes the waste uphill through a pipe that leads to the main sewer or septic tank sited some distance away.
Pumps are available in a wide range of sizes and configurations to handle a variety of fluids and solids. A few common specifications include maximum discharge flow, max pressure and inlet size. Pumps may also be electric, diesel or manual. They can be submersible, frame-mounted or portable. Other features include a control panel, battery backup, pressure gauge and strainer or filter. Some pumps are self-priming and can operate without being supplied with liquid (like oil) to create and maintain a vacuum. Others are non-clog and can move sticky or stringy materials.
Verderflex pumps are ideal for septic and sewage applications as they are self-wetting and don’t require an additional water supply to make them work. They can also handle food waste and other materials that have a high solid content. These include sludge, mash, paper pulp and effluent. They’re also used to drain basements flooded by floodwater, clear debris from stormwater drains and drain filthy spills.
Homeowners can reduce the amount of wastewater that enters the septic system by installing water-conserving devices in faucets and showerheads and fixing leaking sinks, toilets and roof drains. They can also help prevent problems by directing gutter downs and surface drains away from the septic system, by diverting house footing drains and lawn sprinklers away from it and by using a septic tank biodegradable toilet treatment product that helps the septic system break down the organic waste faster.