Septic systems are an important part of the plumbing in any house that has one. Septic systems clean out wastewater that comes into your house from sources like the shower drain and toilets and pump it away into septic tanks or drain fields where it can be treated safely by bacteria that interact directly with the wastewater. If a homeowner's septic system isn't working properly, household plumbing can quickly become messy. Here are some of the issues with septic systems that might affect your household plumbing:
How the Septic System Works
The septic tank and leach field are the most basic parts of the system. The septic tank, a buried tank, has an opening on its bottom. The liquid or effluent from wastewater accumulates in the tank drains out through that opening.
The leach field (drain field) is a buried field of pipes that has openings on its top. The liquid that accumulates in the soil drains out through those openings. As the liquid drains, it seeps into the ground. The liquid travels down through the soil until it reaches the water table. This treats the wastewater that comes from household plumbing systems.
A septic system is designed and sized to accommodate the needs of a typical household. The amount of liquid that accumulates in a septic tank and leach field can vary widely. If the liquid level gets too high, it can back up through the plumbing into the house.
What Causes Septic System Problems
The septic tank is a tank that is buried beneath the soil to contain wastewater from household plumbing. The wastewater in the septic tank (or septic tank and leach field) is called sludge. Sludge is formed over time as water, oil and grease, and paper float on the surface of the wastewater.
A leach field is an area of soil that is covered with gravel and perforated pipes. The wastewater from the septic tank flows into the gravel in the leach field. The gravel and soil bacteria then break down the wastewater.
If the wastewater does not stay in the septic tank, problems can occur. Sludge can block the pipes in the leach field. Sludge can also flow back into your septic tank. This can cause the septic tank to overflow. When the tank overflows, sewage may back up into your home.
A septic system needs to be pumped so bacteria can break down the sludge. If the bacteria cannot break down the sludge, the sludge will flow back into the groundwater. When the tank is not pumped regularly, it can cause damage to the septic system that you will need to have repaired.
Issues With the Septic Tank
The septic tank is a container that breaks down solids in wastewater from your household plumbing. It is a gravity-fed system, and the tank is filled with water, sludge, and scum.
The tank's water level should be below the top of the septic tank inlet. If the system is overburdened with excess wastewater, the scum layer will float to the top of the tank. This can cause the tank to be contaminated with sludge that causes solids to not break down. If the tank is full, the system will not be able to circulate the sewage, and solids will overflow into the drain field.
Other issues with septic tanks include degrading materials like concrete, which can crack. There are also baffles in some tanks that separate solids from effluents, which can degrade and cause the tank to malfunction. These are some of the issues that you might need to have repaired with your septic system.
Knowing the signs of problems with your septic system can help you prevent issues from affecting your household plumbing. For more information on septic repair, contact a septic service in your area.