The Workings of a Septic TankThere's so much more involved in the workings of a septic tank that most people are unaware of. This article is a guide of how to look after you tank in order to give it a greater lifespan.

A septic tank is basically a smaller version of a sewage treatment works. In the United Kingdom and Ireland these are most common in rural areas where there is no connection to main government sewage pipes. Septic tanks are mainly used in countryside areas as they require a drain field. This means that they need a large area of land in which to be situated and are therefore not suitable for urban city areas.

The word septic denotes the type of environment that is created within the tank. The idea of a septic environment is created within a bacterial setting that has no air input - ultimately without air. The tank's atmosphere helps to decompose the waste that is pumped into the tank. As well as a septic tank some people also have water treatments installed such as bio filters.

Septic tanks also have to be maintained in order to make them last, this means the removal of the complicated solids that remain at the bottom of the tank, gradually filling it making it much less efficient. If systems are not maintained properly they will last, at the most a few years; if you look after you septic tank properly however, you are likely to get a few decades if not a life time's use out of it.

A septic tank is basically a chamber that can hold between 4000 and 7500 litres if waste. A more recent tank however, usually has two tanks that are separated by a wall. Each if these tanks has an opening in the form of a manhole cover.

When water enters the first section of the tank, solids sink to the bottom and any scum or oily components tend to float to the top. The sunken solids are digested by bacteria within the tank. The remaining water then flows through the dividing wall and any remaining solids are left to settle. The clear water is the released onto the drain field. 

A septic tank that is designed and maintained well, usually made of either concrete, plastic of fibre glass could last up to 50 years. A septic tank system should be odour free and should last years with no maintenance whatsoever.

Septic tanks can sometimes cause problems for example if too much oil or grease is poured down the drain then this can cause the opening of the tank to block causing serious odour problems.

Any flushing of products such as cotton wool buds, cigarette ends or tampons quickly fills the septic tank as these products are not easily degradable.

This article was written for www.biopro.ie, by Elliot Ball - an expert in the installation of septic tanks.