Understanding your Septic Tank

What is there to know about septic tanks?

There is quite a lot actually. A septic tank isn’t just a giant tank full of poop you know! It’s a living, breathing, gross, smelly ecosystem. That ecosystem can be damaged if you use excessive amounts of detergents or chemicals in your home. Your tank doesn’t just suck in foulness and muck, it also breaks it down through natural aerobic bacterial ingestion. But too much bleach and detergent can cause your bacteria to die. If the waste isn’t broken down then it won’t be absorbed by the leach field.

Septic -System-hulsey-plumbing

Leach field, what is that? Well, its an integral part of a septic system. If a septic tank only took in waste and never put anything out it would fill up in a matter of weeks. Bacteria in the tank eats up the ‘scum layer’ (organic matter). The Scum layer is composed primarily of water. As the bacteria devours the waste it leaves ‘solids’ that we call ‘sludge’ which sink to the bottom of the tank. The majority of the devoured biomass is actually converted to an effluent water mixture. Baffles inside the septic tank then cause the water to separate. Then comes the leach field. That effluent flows out of your septic tank and into a series of pipes surrounded by a porous material which allows that water to be absorbed and devoured by the plants in your yard.

Where is this leach field located?

Look for the greenest spots in your lawn, typically that’s where you will find those pipes. Here in North Georgia we have and abundance of two things: Kudzu and Red Clay. While the Kudzu threatens our power lines, the red clay threatens our leach fields. Clay has a natural water resistance. That resistance keeps water from flowing through the soil freely as it does with  sand. For this reason Georgians must make sure there leach field pipes are surrounded with a foam, carpet, gravel or sand that allows bleeding of the effluent waste into the soil,


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