If your home has a septic tank, you know it has to be serviced every few years, but you may not have any idea what goes on inside the tank. The water, food from the garbage disposal, and waste go through your plumbing system and empty into your septic tank. Once there, they settle into three layers. Here's a look at those three layers and how they affect the functioning of your septic system.
An Oily Layer Floats On The Top
The top layer in your tank is composed of oil, scum, and other substances that are lighter than water. Since it floats on top, this layer is isolated from the drain, which is positioned in the middle of the tank. When a contractor checks your tank, he or she can tell if it needs to be pumped by the thickness of the top layer and bottom layer. If the top oily layer is getting too thick, it has to be removed from the tank before it leaks into the drainfield causing clogs and other damage. If you put greasy foods and oil down your drains or garbage disposal routinely, this top layer builds up faster, and that can force you into pumping out your tank more often than you need to.
Water Is Held In The Middle Of The Tank
Water is heavier than the oily layer, but it is lighter than the sludge layer on the bottom. Therefore, it floats in the middle of the tank. When water pours into the tank on one side from a drain, older water leaks out into the drainfield on the other side. The outlet drain of the tank is in the area that holds water so it can drain out naturally. Water is constantly draining from the tank. It isn't stored inside like the other two layers. The water layer gets smaller as the other two layers grow larger.
Solids Fall To The Bottom And Turn Into Sludge
All of the solids from your drains fall to the sludge layer that clings to the bottom of the tank. This layer is teeming with bacteria that break down solids into sludge. Over time, the sludge layer gets thicker and thicker. It must be pumped out of the tank before it reaches the outlet drain in the middle, or the sludge could clog parts of the septic system and cause damage to the drainfield. You can slow down the rate at which the sludge layer grows by limiting the solids you send through the garbage disposal and your drains. The more food waste and things such as cigarette butts and eggshells you send down the drain, the quicker the sludge builds up. Sending synthetic materials and an abundance of food through the garbage disposal also upsets the microbes so they aren't as quick and effective at turning solid waste into sludge.
Once you realize how the three different layers settle in your septic tank and affect your system, you can see that you have some control in how often the tank needs to be pumped out. For more information, talk to a professional like CARE SEPTICS.