Septic tanks offer a convenient and cost-effective method of disposing of household wastewater in properties that do not have access to main sewage lines. Once installed, septic tanks need very little care and maintenance and only need to be emptied once every few years depending on the size of your household. Choosing the correct septic system for your home is essential to ensure the tank does not become backed up and cause bacteria to seep into the local groundwater. You may also need to comply with local regulations regarding the correct placement of your tank and the minimum size required for your home.
Choosing a Septic Tank
Septic tanks are made from three types of materials which are concrete, fibreglass or plastic. Concrete is by far the most popular choice with plastic and fibreglass usually reserved for homes in remote locations that are difficult to access. Choosing the correct size tank for your home is extremely important as a smaller tank will need emptying more often leading to added expense. On average, a household of five people will need a 1000 gallon tank that requires emptying every two to three years. A single person can make do with a 500 gallon tank that will need emptying every five years. Some states require all septic tanks to be a minimum size regardless of how many people will be using it, so always check with your local municipality.
Positioning Your Septic Tank
Installing a septic tank and drainage field is a relatively large job that requires prior knowledge of drainage systems. Seek the advice of a trained specialist before attempting the job yourself or hire a professional company to complete the installation for you. Septic tanks should be buried at least 100 feet from the main house, surrounding structures and any trees that may be on your property. Tree roots can damage pipe work and cause the entire system to fail. The size of the drainage field required will depend on the size of your tank and the volume of water used every day. Drainage fields are usually a mixture of gravel and soil and are responsible for removing bacteria and any remaining solids from wastewater. If your septic tank will be buried underground, then it is important to install risers onto the viewing ports. Risers allow a technician to inspect the inside of the tank and measure the sludge and scum levels. Never open the viewing ports yourself as dangerous gas builds up inside that could even prove fatal.
In order to keep your septic tank in perfect working order, be sure to have it inspected and serviced at regular intervals. An ideal time for inspection is during emptying when it will be much easier to access the tank. Try to cut down on the amount of water you consume in your home to prevent the tank from overflowing. As septic tanks rely on a delicate balance of bacteria to break down solid matter, never throw harsh chemicals such as chlorine or drain cleaner down your toilet.