At West Michigan Septic Sewer and Drain Service, we find that there is a lot of confusion when it comes to septic tanks and home disposal systems. We hope to give you the information you need so that you understand and get the most from your septic system.
A septic system is a small sewage treatment and disposal system buried in the ground at a home or business. There are two components: the septic tank itself, made of precast concrete, concrete blocks or reinforced fiberglass, and a soil absorption area, called the drain field or block trench.
The tank is a water-tight box equipped with an inlet pipe and an outlet baffle positioned so that under ideal conditions only clear water moves on into the soil absorption area.
This works because, while the inorganic or inert portion of the solid waste sinks to the bottom becoming “sludge,” the organic portion floats on the surface. (See diagram 1.)
In the natural flow of operation, bacteria which comes from body waste acts on this floating scum” to break it down into a sludge. Problems arise when the sludge builds up and fills in the area reserved for clear liquid, or when the sludge is not pumped out and accumulates until it overflows into the drainage system. (See diagram 2.)
Obviously, it is important to keep the bacterial activity in balance. Many people think that a “starter” product to promote bacterial growth will eliminate the need for proper care, but this is not the case. There are enough bacteria in the body waste materials going to the tank to do the job, but it is necessary to try to avoid overusing and discharging products such as bleach, disinfectants, medicine and polishes which destroy bacteria. Refuse from garbage disposals and items such as coffee grounds, wet-strength towels, cigarette butts, or grease will clog the system and slow down the natural decomposition process, and should not be put into the system.
After time it will be necessary to pump out the sludge accumulated in the bottom of the tank regardless of how careful you are. How often this is needed depends on a number of factors, such as the size of the septic tank and the number of occupants in the house. The information would give you an indication, but these times are just estimates and as you get to know your individual system you may discover that it needs more frequent cleaning.
Plumbing back-ups, sluggish drainage, and other problems can be avoided by routinely scheduling the thorough maintenance provided by the professionals at West Michigan Septic Sewer & Drain Service. We carry off the waste and dispose of it properly. It is eventually used as fertilizer for crops, completing the ecological cycle. We keep records of your system size, location, and cleaning program, and we remind you when maintenance is due.
The chart below is an estimated time frame for having your septic system pumped out and maintained. as you get to know your particular system, you may find that it needs to be done more frequently. As mentioned previously, use of a garbage disposal unit will make it necessary to pump more frequently.