The Septic Tank
For single family homes, up to four bedrooms, the standard size tank is a 1,000 gallon, two compartment tank. The essential function of the septic tank is to receive all wastewater from the home. It allows the settling of solids and provides for a clarified effluent to pass through to the drainfield.
Once the effluent flows from the tank it goes into the drainfield. A typical drainfield is constructed of several trenches filled with stone and perforated pipe placed near the top of the stone. Effluent will travel through the pipe and stone and eventually reach the soil.
Soils consist of billions of living microorganisms along with minerals, water, organic matter, and air. It is this living, biological atmosphere, along with the soil, that provides the purification of the effluent as it percolates through the soil and finally returns to the ground water.
Caring for the System
Minimize water use
Minimize solids load
Be careful of what goes down the drain
Servicing of the tank(s)
Minimize water use. All it takes is overloading a system with too much water and it will be adversely affected. Showering too long, too many loads of wash, leaking faucets, leaking flapper valve in the toilet, letting water run while brushing teeth or shaving, this all leads up to excessive water use and will cause a saturated condition in the drainfield. The less water that is being received by the system the better the whole system will perform. This effects the retention time and greater settling of the solids in the tank. this also gives the organisms in the tank and drainfield time to digest waste. A reduced flow of cleaner effluent will prolong the life of the drainfield.
Minimize solids load. This means not to use your septic as a garbage disposal, IT IS NOT. Do not flush anything but toilet paper, plain and simple. What is going down the drain? Chemicals, paints, cooking oil, foods do not go down the drain. Do not overuse laundry soap, use as little as possible. Minimize the use of bleach and other chlorine products. These will upset a tank. Garbage disposals should not be used put debris in the garbage or compost.
Service the tank(s). There are so many system failures due to non-servicing of tanks. Servicing a tank is just like servicing your car or maintaining your home. Without a preventive maintenance program, they will not last. The whole reason for
pumping and cleaning
The tank is to keep a good quality effluent going to the drainfield. This will keep
buildup within the drainfield as minimal as possible. Basically, it will help prevent plugging of the drainfield and extend the life of the system. Do not use a so-called additive as a substitute for pumping a tank. Additives should not be used; they will break down scum and sludge into fine particles that can be easily flushed from the tank and into the drainfield and possibly cause premature failure. The state of Delaware does not approve the use of any additive.
Where Is the Tank and Drainfield?
As a homeowner, you should know. Get your tax I.D. number and contact the DNREC office and they should be able to get your permit for you. This will have everything you need to know about your system on it. Do not put sheds, decks, pools, or plant trees or any other root-intrusive plants on or near the system. Keep heavy vehicle traffic off the area. Do not do any digging into the drainfield area.
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