Septic Tanks The Basics and Guidelines

Septic systems chicago

Although the majority of Americans have access to plumbing from the municipality that they live in, many Americans do not. They must dispose of their waste themselves, which can be difficult in certain areas of the country. They take advantage of a system that has been around for hundreds of years. It’s called the septic tank.

A septic tank is a system by which waste from a home can be disposed of. One quarter of homes in the United States use a septic system, including great parts in the Midwest or other places that are rural and lack access to a city maintained waste disposal system. A septic tank may seem crude but it has a certain chemistry to it.

There are certain factors that go into the making of a septic tank. Water usage is one of those factors. On average, a single family home will use 70 gallons of water per person per day, meaning that the size of the tank needs to be able to accommodate waste from all that water. There are certain stipulations to this.

Generally, a four person, two bedroom household needs a 1000 gallon tank at minimum. And this number can rise or fall depending on how many people live in the household, how much waste is produced, and so forth. The following section details how septic tanks work, why they’re useful, and how they can be managed. First, some general statistics.

  • A garbage disposal alone can increase the amount of solids in the septic tank by 50%.
  • Usually, a septic tank should be big enough to hold two days of wastewater, which is how long it takes for solids to settle out.
  • Data from the EPA states that more than 4 billion gallons of wastewater is dispersed below the ground surface every day.
  • There are four factors that impact the frequency of pumping: number of people in a household, amount of wastewater generated, volume of solids in wastewater, and the size of the septic tank.
  • The state of Illinois requires that all piping more than five feet from a building’s foundation used for moving waste water be considered part of the septic system.

Those statistics give a small view on the different components of a septic system, including the governmental regulation of such systems, particularly in the state of Illinois. There are many components to a septic system and they rely on a certain amount of ecology to work.

A septic tank starts with the pipe that comes from the house. The pipe carries waste. These might be food waste, as from a garbage disposal, regular waste, from the human body, or waste coming from unnatural sources, like gunk that has built up in the piping system over time.

The pipe enters a tank, which is placed in the backyard. The waste enters the tank through the pipe and is deposited into the first of two containers. The containers are connected and divided, more of which will be explained later. When the waste enters the tank, it is kept from going into the second tank.

The waste becomes part of the general wastewater mixture in the tank. From that point, the bacteria in the tank eats away at the solid water (which has accumulated at the bottom) to the point where the water can rise and enter into the next tank. At this point, the chemicals in the waste have been broken down, making it “cleaner” water.

A similar process occurs in the second tank. The solid waste is broken down further until water rises to the point where it is passed through a second pipe. This pipe takes the wastewater into the field and disperses it. This dispersal becomes fuel for plants and crops and trees, who draw on the nutrients in the waste water for growth.

There are times when a septic tank needs treatment. Septic tank treatment generally occurs once to twice per year, depending on the situation. Septic tank treatment involves the emptying out and cleaning out of the tank. Bacteria can often rise in the tank, which can lead to the need for septic tank treatment.

Septic tank treatment can be performed by a professional or by the person who owns the septic tank. Septic tank service is common where there are septic tanks.

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