Proper Planning for Septic Tanks

Posted on: 18 May 2015

Septic tanks are a necessity for areas outside of municipal sewage treatment areas, but they aren't always an eco-friendly or easy-to-maintain option. Whether you're installing a new septic tank or moving into an area that has a septic tank on your property, keep a few things in mind as you plan upgrades, prepare for repairs, or even just walk over a buried septic tank.

Septic Tanks Can Be a Hazard

Instead of flushing toilets and emptying sinks into a professionally installed and managed system of sewage, a septic tank is the first line of defense for waste. Waste leaves the building through a standard waste pipeline and enters the septic tank, which is used to handle heavier wastes such as toilet waste or garbage disposal waste.

Water continues flowing to a larger soil absorption field (also known as a drainfield or leachfield) which is covered with sandy loam. This means that a lot of solid waste fills up in your septic tank, which can be a biohazard if the tank begins to leak.

It isn't just the ick factor of old food and fecal matter; after all, such things are used for compost in farming. The bigger issue is that a lot of the medications, chemicals, and other substances used in day-to-day life can enter the wastewater system, which can create an extremely toxic mixture. Such leaks can reach other homes and water supplies, which creates a health hazard for others. 

There are also fines associated with a leaking septic tank. Although some areas may be lenient if you moved into a building with a leaking septic tank and didn't know it, many government environment agencies (state-specific Department of Natural Resources or the Environmental Protection Agency) may take action.

Getting a New Septic Tank and Regular Pumping

If the septic tank is old, prepare to have it replaced. There is no single age requirement for replacement, as many companies have different answers. Many state-specific documents mention to pump the solid waste from the septic tank every 3–5 years, but fill replacement depends on the physical condition of the tank and the features available.

You may want to invest in a septic tank that includes a baffle designed to slow the movement of wastewater. This reduces the chance that lighter solid waste will be stirred up and sent closer to the exit end of the septic tank.

Solid waste should settle closer to the entrance (entry point) of the septic tank. If it settles and builds up near the exit (outlet), the exit pipes have a higher chance of picking up solid waste and beginning a clog in the outlet. Leaks from clogs can cause the soil to get softer than normal above the draining field, which can bog down cars parking in the yard or even people.

Contact a septic tank installation professional like Schlegelmilch Plumbing & Well Drilling for septic tank choice assistance, installation, and repair.