When talking about any profession, most people tend to focus on the here and now. That's understandable. it's really important to know what's going on in the present tense. But you are missing out on some vital information if you never read and learn about the history of a profession. This applies to plumbing, in particular. You can really further your understanding of the profession by knowing how it began and what changes have been made over the years. That's why we sometimes reference the history of plumbing on this blog. We'll also dive into the future of the profession from time to time because, after all, you have to know where you're headed.
A typical gravity-fed residential septic system consists of a septic tank that temporarily stores waste and a drain field that allows effluent to flow out and filter through the surrounding soil. The design of these systems relies on steady flow and good drainage in the drain field. If portions of the drain field become clogged, effluent can back up into the system and create clogs.
Drainfield failures can occur for many reasons, but one common cause is sludge or scum (grease) exiting the septic tank. These contaminants can clog drain tiles or encourage the growth of anaerobic bacteria, which can form mats that further restrict the system. Even the most straightforward septic tanks typically contain these three critical features to help protect your drain field from these hazards.
1. Two Compartments
While older systems may use a septic tank with a single compartment, most new installations utilize divided tanks. A divided septic tank consists of two zones separated by a barrier and connected by downward-facing tee pipes. The typical design uses a much larger compartment near the inlet pipe and a smaller chamber on the outlet side.
This design helps solids settle to the bottom of the tank. Waste can't travel to the outlet without first traveling downward from the inlet pipe and across a barrier. This convoluted path reduces the likelihood that solid waste can reach the outlet baffle, ultimately preventing solids from entering the drain field unless the tank becomes hopelessly overfilled.
2. Outlet Baffles
Septic baffles are tee junctions that consist of a vertical pipe connected to the horizontal inlet or outlet. The top of the vertical line rises above the scum layer, preventing the outlet from picking up grease that settles in this area. Meanwhile, the entry point of the baffle sits below the water surface. This design keeps floating solids from finding their way into the outlet pipe.
The baffle is arguably one of the most crucial parts of any septic tank. You should always inspect your baffles when pumping your tank since concrete baffles can deteriorate over time. A failed baffle can allow solids to enter your drain field, clogging the line and potentially ruining your drainage system.
3. Outlet Screens
Outlet screens are one final layer of defense for any scum or solid waste that may make its way into the outlet baffle. A screen is a simple filter (usually a metal mesh) that can catch large waste particles before entering the drain field. Outlet screens can clog and need periodic cleaning, but these maintenance tasks are far more manageable and less costly than replacing a failed drain field.
These three critical components all work together to ensure the long-term reliability of your septic system. Regular tank cleanings and inspections will ensure that everything is working as it should, helping you prevent septic system failures that can cost thousands of dollars to repair.
To learn more information about owning a septic tank, reach out to a professional near you.Share