Septic Tank Cleaning

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     At least one third of Americans today have a septic system to treat sewage in their homes. Waste is combined in a main drain that leads to the septic system and connects to all the sinks, showers, toilets, and washing machines in your home.  The septic system is where the waste begins to separate. The heaviest from of waste is called sludge, which sinks to the bottom of the septic tank.  Fats, oils, and proteins float to the top of the system and form what is called the scum layer.  In between the scum and sludge layers you will find a liquid layer called the effluent or gray water.

     Septic systems are designed to discharge effluent into a drain or spray field while retaining the scum and sludge layers.  Conventional septic systems use a simple set of perforated pipes that release effluent into the ground below.  The effluent is degraded enough that good soil will break down any remaining solids and filter the effluent.  Aerobic systems, which are more like a sewage treatment plant, treat the effluent with microorganisms and chlorine to beak down solids and treat the gray water.  After the effluent has been treated it is then distributed on the surface of the ground by a sprinkler or drip system.  

     Even with a healthy microbial ecosystem breaking down solids or a well-functioning system that has an efficient drain field, the sludge and scum layers will build up over time in the tank.  The sludge and scum need to be pumped out periodically when they reach a certain level of thickness.  The amount of sludge or scum required to need a cleaning can vary depending on the size of the septic system.

     With out regular pumping, your septic tank can over flow.  An over flow can lead to unnecessary health and environmental risks.  Over flow can cause a back up inside the house where drains and toilets can belch out what should be in the septic tank.  Over flow can also push unprocessed waste out of the septic tank seep onto the ground causing a flooded yard or run-off into other bodies of water such as lakes and creeks.  This can also cause further damage below the surface by tainting ground water.

     This is why we recommend having a routine maintenance contract.  It is impossible to tell the levels of the scum and sludge in your tank with out having the proper tools and training.  Having a routine inspection is the best way to keep track of the levels of sludge and scum in your system.  These inspections include measuring sludge as well as scum, inspecting mechanical components with in the system, and checking that the system is properly discharging effluent.  This is why we recommend having a routine maintenance contract.