What Are Septic Tanks, And Why Do They Need Cleaning?

Septic tanks are underground wastewater storage containers. They can be made of plastic, fiberglass, or concrete. This container must be watertight, or the sewage will leak and cause unpleasant smells as well as reduce the efficacy of the septic tank. A septic tank serves to do some very basic water treatment for household wastewater. The water settles in the tank, separating into layers. The heavy layer is composed of solids and settles to the bottom. This stuff is given the unappetizing term "sludge". Grease and oil, of course, settle on top of the water, as it is wont to do.

Once the water settles, it goes into a drainfield, which allows the water to filter through the soil. If this field is saturated or flooded, it can back up the entire septic system and the house attached to the system.

This is, of course, a very simplified explanation, intended to get the general idea across.

Septic tanks are useful to those who are too far away from a municipal water source to be connected to it — often they will also have well water. They are also somewhat common to off-the-grid folks, and sometimes people install them because they don't want to pay sewage fees to the city. There's a variety of reasons someone might have one.

They need to be cleaned, mostly, because that sludge layer will build up over time. Most septic tanks are large enough that cleaning probably only needs to be done every few years, though it depends on the size of the family using the system (as well as whether or not they use a garbage disposal — some may need to empty it yearly). If the septic tank gets over full, well, there's nowhere for it to go but out. Sometimes it forced up and out into the yard, and sometimes it backs up into the house. (If you're unlucky, it does both.)

But also, having someone out to clean your septic tank can mean that someone actually inspects pipes and other bits that nobody sees. This means that they can detect cracks and buildup in pipes and help you figure out what kind of maintenance you might need.

They can also help let you know if you need to have a conversation with your household about what, exactly, is appropriate to go down the drains and what should be thrown away or disposed of in another manner.

For more information, reach out to a septic tank cleaning service today.