Septic tank systems depend on bacterial action to break down particulate matter and to remove impurities from the wastewater that passes through the tank and into the drainfield. Increasing the efficiency of these bacterial processes can have a beneficial effect on the functioning of the entire system and can even help failing systems to recover and to resume normal waste treatment activities. Understanding the role of each of the components of a typical septic tank setup can help you to maintain the health and proper function of this critical household system.
The septic tank
The first stages of wastewater remediation take place within the septic tank, a watertight structure that receives solid and liquid waste from household drains and toilets. This waste and wastewater is processed by bacteria that live inside the tank and break down the waste into its component parts, rendering it safer and removing impurities and particulate matter through decomposition and filtering in this part of the septic system. Standard septic tank arrangements usually contain anaerobic bacteria that do not require oxygen to survive. These bacteria are relatively inefficient and may not work quickly enough to keep up with the waste produced by the household. Incorporating an aerobic septic system can significantly increase the efficiency of bacterial decomposition inside the tank, making these systems a valuable addition to the waste remediation process. By providing oxygen inside the tank, these systems promote the growth of aerobic bacteria that break down waste and clean water much more quickly and efficiently than their anaerobic counterparts.
The distribution box
Once wastewater has been partially cleaned and purified inside the septic tank, it passes through small pipes to a central distribution box. This distribution system allows wastewater to pass into several different rows of the drainfield, ensuring the most efficient filtering of water through this important part of the septic system. Many septic tank problems are caused by clogging or broken pipes within the distribution box that prevent water from passing through freely.
Consisting of several perforated pipes seated on gravel and connected to the distribution pipe, the drainfield is the final stage in wastewater remediation. The small holes in the pipe allow water to pass slowly out of the pipes and into the layer of gravel and dirt under the drainfield. This is the last stage of the wastewater remediation process and allows the purified water to return safely to the underground water table.
Understanding the basic elements of your septic system can help you to identify problems quickly and to address them before they become serious issues requiring significant expenditures. By maintaining these elements properly, you can enjoy years of trouble-free performance from your current septic tank arrangement.