How a Septic Tank Works

Every time you flush a toilet or do laundry at home, the water and the water waste flows out the house and fall into the septic tank. A septic tank is primarily used to store wastewater. It holds the water until solid particles present in the water settle down to the bottom of the tank and the lighter waste rises to the top. Between these two layers is the cleared water which then flows through the outlet pipe and is then slowly dissipated into the drain field. The septic tank contains the bacteria which break down the organic waste matter, naturally slowing down the process of the sludge layer formation.

 As more and more water flows into the septic tank, it pushes out water into the drain field at the same rate as well. A standard septic tank consists of three main parts: the septic tank itself, a drain field, and the soil.

What causes a septic tank to fail?

 As mentioned earlier, the septic tank contains bacteria which break down the organic waste matter naturally. So, in case of the excessive use of household chemicals like bleach and anti-bacterial soaps, the bacteria of the septic tank can be killed hence causing it to fail. Another major reason of the septic tank failure is the flow of excessive water into the tank which then results in pushing out a higher amount of the beneficial bacteria into the drain field.

If the septic tank system gets weak, the build-up of sewage in the tank becomes faster. This ultimately results in the blockage and/or clogging up of the drain pipes. In such a case of failure, back up is required in the form of an emergency pumping or the replacement of the drain field.

Septic tank back-up system

The back-up of a septic tank is smelly and messy. If the sewage accumulates in the tank due to the increased amount of water waste flowing into the tank and subsequent disposition of large amounts of bacteria into the drain field, then the drain pipes will start getting clogged up. These clogged drain pipes will cause the water to flow into your washrooms, kitchen sinks, and laundry.

What to do when the drain field stops working?

If the roots of your drain field get blocked due to excessive use of household chemicals or get clogged up due to the kitchen grease, oil, and fats, then the only option you are left with is to install a new drain field. However, if the roots are not blocked, then it is not much of a problem as you can just get it cleaned simply by getting it pumped.

Maintaining your septic tank

Maintaining a septic tank is quite similar to maintaining an automobile as just a small effort at regular intervals can save you from spending a lot of money. Also, this may subsequently increase the overall life of the septic tank. To ensure that clogging does not occur, it is advisable to conduct an annual examination of the septic tank so that it can be gauged as to when pumping will actually be required. Certain parts of the system which are movable may also require more frequent inspections. All in all, inspecting and getting your system pumped at regular intervals can help you save the high cost of the septic tank system failure. In order to do so, a professional contractor can be hired who may inspect the system for any possible cracks in the pipes or any damage in the other components of the system.

The Do’s and Don’ts for the maintenance of a septic tank



You should get your septic tank inspected on a regular basis.

Conserve water in order to avoid the excessive flow of water into the tank.

Make sure that there are no cracks. Also, pipes and faucets should not be leaky.

Always call a professional or a contractor to get your septic tanks pumped regularly in order to avoid blockage.



Never let anyone drive or park over any part of the septic tank system to avoid any damage to the system.

Planting anything near the septic tank system should be avoided because this may clog and/or block the drain field.

Avoid using harsh household chemicals which may damage the bacteria in the tank, raising the sewage levels and ultimately leading to blocking up of pipes and the drain field.


To sum up, a well-maintained septic system is important for it to function properly. Using more water than the system is designed to handle can lead to its failure. Therefore, it is important to keep removing the sludge and the build-up scum from the tank before it flows into the drain field and causes the entire system to fail.


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