Septic Tank Treatment – What You Need to Know

Septic Tank Treatment

Every time you flush a toilet, disease-causing germs and environmental pollutants enter your septic system. These wastewaters flow to the septic tank, where solid waste settles (forming a sludge layer) while oils and grease float to the top (forming a scum layer).

Store-bought septic tank additives disrupt your septic system’s natural bacterial balance. These chemicals can also clog your drain field and groundwater.

Biological Treatments

Biological treatments contain bacteria, yeast and enzymes that boost the natural process occurring in the septic tank. They are often sold as routine maintenance, to be flushed down the toilet on a weekly or monthly basis in order to keep the septic system balanced. However, the bacteria contained in these additives is no match for the number that already exist in a healthy septic tank. In fact, they do more harm than good by killing the existing bacteria and polluting the environment.

Adding too many of these products can actually deplete the bacterial population within the tank, leading to a clogged drain field. In addition, some chemical additives contain acids that corrode concrete septic tanks and distribution boxes, leading to leaks and structural failure.

By far, the best Septic Tank Treatment is a bio-stimulant that improves the biological conditions within wastewater systems. This allows beneficial bacteria to maintain healthy populations that speed up the breakdown of waste. These treatments are also safer for the environment than chemical additives.

In a recent study, researchers tested two identical septic tanks with and without a bio-stimulant. They monitored the dissolved oxygen, plate count and organic material in each tank. They found that the tank with the bio-stimulant had a higher plate count, lower organic material and was much cleaner.

While there are many different kinds of septic tank treatment products available, the most effective ones preserve the natural bacterial colonies and do not damage the environment. These products are sold as powders, liquids, pods or tablets. Pods and tablets are the easiest to use, but you must be sure to buy a product that is designed for your specific tank size.

Some septic tank treatment products are advertised as “liquid septic drench” and claim to be able to prevent or reduce the need for pumping. These chemicals, however, may cause the septic system to overwork and can clog the drain field and leaching fields. Instead, homeowners should have their septic systems inspected by a licensed septic technician. If the system is overworked, it should be pumped more frequently or replaced entirely.

Chemical Treatments

There are a number of chemical products available that claim to treat your septic system. They are generally sold as a way to unclog your leech field or help the septic tank function better. However, they can do much more harm than good. Most of these products contain chemicals that can damage septic systems and pollute natural groundwater. They also disrupt the natural bacterial process inside of the septic tank. Biological treatments, which contain enzymes and bacteria, are the best septic tank treatment option.

Most septic tank additives are organic solvents or inorganic compounds that can cause problems. These include inorganic acid or alkalis such as sulfuric acid, lye and those found in many household drain cleaners. These can destroy the bacterial decomposition processes in the septic tank, sterilize the wastewater and send raw sewage directly into the drain field and soil pores. They can also corrode concrete tanks and distribution boxes, causing structural damage to your septic system.

Organic solvents like hydrogen peroxide can destroy the bacterial colonies that are needed for the proper functioning of your septic system. However, there are septic tank additives that don’t use chemical solvents. These septic tank treatments can be found in powder, liquid or tablet form. Powder treatments require careful measuring to ensure you are using the right amount for your septic tank. Liquid septic tank treatments are often easier to use than powder. They are available in bottles that are labelled for the size of your septic tank. Pods are another septic tank additive product, but they are not as convenient to use. They must be carefully measured before using and are only effective for treating a clogged septic tank.

Some septic tank additives aim to give bacteria in the septic tank an extra source of food. They do this by adding carbon, minerals, grain or protein to the septic tank. However, if your septic tank already has the bacteria it needs in the proper proportions, then giving the bacteria more food is unnecessary and counterproductive.

Other septic tank additives attempt to control odor by killing bacteria. These septic tank treatments typically contain formaldehyde, paraformaldehyde, quaternary ammonia and zinc sulfate. This objective runs counter to the purpose and function of septic systems by preventing anaerobic bacterial growth.

Pump Chamber

Septic tank treatments are vital to the proper operation of your septic system. But the wrong additives can kill the healthy bacteria in your septic tank and cause a backup. Avoid buying store-bought additives containing formaldehyde, quaternary ammonium and zinc sulfate. These additives poison the bacterial colonies in your septic tank, reducing their population and shortening the time between pumping.

Your septic tank is a large, buried concrete, fiberglass or polyethylene container that holds household waste. Solid waste sinks to the bottom and forms a layer of sludge. Bacteria in the septic tank breaks down the heavy solids and liquid waste flows out of the septic tank through a pipe called the drain field.

The liquid wastewater is known as effluent. It moves by gravity to the drain field where it’s filtered and dispersed into soil or waterways. The liquid waste can also seep into groundwater. The septic tank can be treated in several ways, but the most common is by adding a biological treatment.

Biological treatments include powders, tablets, or pods. Pods are pre-measured, but they require more time to work than powders and tablets. In addition to chemical and biological treatments, you can prevent clogs by maintaining proper toilet usage. The number of flushes per day should be limited to three or less, and you should use low-flow toilets and fixtures.

If you think your septic tank needs to be pumped, call your local septic service provider. A professional will determine the condition of your septic tank and make any needed repairs before pumping. You can keep track of when your septic tank is due for a pumping by recording the thickness of the sludge and scum layers in the tank. If the sludge layer is within six inches of the bottom of the outlet or the scum layer is more than 25% of the liquid depth, it’s time for a pumping.

A septic tank’s pump chamber is controlled by control floats that can be set to turn the pump on and off at different levels to achieve a dose of effluent over a given period of time. If the middle or pump float tips up to the on position, the pump will turn on and run until the lower alarm float turns the pump off again.

Drain Field

Septic tank treatments are important to prevent sewage effluent from polluting groundwater. But they are only one part of a comprehensive wastewater treatment system. Another critical part of the system is the drain field, which carries wastewater to and treats it in soil. The wastewater infiltrates through soil layers, which act as a physical, chemical and biological filter. The bacteria in the soil help to destroy pathogens and make the water safe for groundwater.

The septic tank is designed to hold the wastewater at low velocity and under anaerobic conditions for a detention time of at least 48 hours, which allows bacterial digestion of organic solids to occur. Any solids that are not digested float to the top and form a layer of sludge, which needs periodic pumping to remove it. Grease and oils float to the surface and form a layer of scum, which must be removed periodically as well. The relatively clear liquid between these layers flows out of the septic tank through a distribution device into the absorption field.

When liquid exits the septic tank, it flows through a watertight 4-inch diameter PVC or cast-iron pipe into the distribution box or “D-box.” The distribution box has baffles or sanitary tees made of acid-resistant concrete or acid-resistant fiberglass. These ensure that floating scum from the septic tank doesn’t plug the inlet or absorption field pipes. It also has six-inch diameter inspection pipes for checking for clogs and solids levels.

The distribution box is typically located within 6 to 12 inches of the septic tank inlet pipe, but if the tank is high above the ground level, a riser is installed to connect the two. It’s a good idea to make a diagram or map of the septic tank, distribution box and drainfield locations relative to fixed points such as your home’s corners, steps or fence posts. This will save you the trouble of digging and searching when it’s time for a pump-out.

It’s also a good idea to divert down spouts and other surface water away from the drainfield area. It’s also important to never plant trees, shrubs or vegetable gardens directly above the septic tank and drain field. The roots of these plants can ensnarl and damage drainfield pipes, and the contaminated soil can leach into groundwater or nearby surface water. Only native grasses and other ground covers should be planted over the drainfield.

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