Basics of Septic Tank Functioning and the Need for Maintenance


Your home may have an individual septic system maintained by the homeowner that treats your household wastewater. Here, you will learn about septic tank vacuuming, tank basics, and malfunction signs.

Septic Tank Vacuuming

Depending on your tank’s condition, a septic maintenance technician may use a different septic tank draining technique. Your technician may use a motor-driven auger to mix and loosen solids and a septic truck with an attached pumping hose to vacuum your tank of its contents.

Septic Tank Basics

Your home’s wastewater comes from the activities of its occupants and guests whenever someone showers, bathes, uses the toilet, clothes washer, dishwasher, bathroom sink, kitchen sink, or runs the garbage disposal. This wastewater goes down your pipes and gathers into your underground septic tank.

The septic tank is a container that allows for the natural separation of wastewater or sewage into three sections: oil or scum, liquid or effluent, and solid or sludge. Sewage enters the tank through the inlet. Scum rises to the top and remains in the tank.

Effluent floats under the scum and exits the tank through the outlet when the tank’s effluent level reaches above the outlet. When the effluent leaves the tank, it spreads as it runs through perforated pipes under a drain field. The soil in the drain field treats the effluent as it drains into the ground.

Sludge settles on the bottom of the tank and remains to decompose. Sludge may stir and rise during floods. You will want to have the sludge remain low relative to the tank outlet. If sludge reaches the outlet or beyond, it may create a clog.

Septic Tank Malfunction Signs

You may want to call a septic maintenance technician if you see water pools on your property without cause, hear gurgling noises from your drainage pipes, and your toilets, shower, tub, and sinks are slow to drain, backflow, and clog often.