How Does a Septic System Work?

Written by tara dooley
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A septic system has two sections. The first section is where the waste enters from the house or other building. The waste is broken down in the first tank by natural bacteria that comes from our own bodies. The septic owner can also purchase more bacteria to help with the breakdown of the waste. Once the waste is broken down, it flows through a filter system to the second section, where it is now just waste water.

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Where It Goes

Some system are set up to send the waste water to a treatment facility once the waste has been broken down. The waste treatment centre will process the water and purify it. Other systems have the water soak down through a set-up of gravel, sand and other filtering materials to disperse the water back into the ground. Either way, it is just water that is processed out of the second section of the septic system.

When to Pump

Sometimes the system doesn't work properly and the waste is not broken down as it should. And there is typically some build-up over time even when a system does run well. When this happens, the owner of the system needs to call a septic company to come in and pump out the waste. The owner of the septic system should make sure that the company pumps out the entire tank, including both sections. After the tank has been pumped, bacteria should be added to the tank. This will usually be provided by the pumping company. Add the bacteria a couple of days after the tank was pumped to insure that there is some water and waste in the tank for the bacteria to react with.

What Causes Buildup

There are many things that can cause a build-up of waste in the tank. The actual cause of build-up is that the bacteria in the tank is dead. If there is no bacteria to eat the waste, then build-up is inevitable. Causes of the death of the bacteria generally come from the user. Bleach is the worst culprit. It takes little more that a tablespoon or two to kill most of the bacteria in a tank. Antibacterial soap is another culprit. Soaps and bodywashes with oils will kill bacteria as well, as will antibiotic medicines. Most of these things can be avoided, while others can't. If you have issues with bacteria dying, add extra bacteria to the tank every few months.

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