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Septic Tank Problems

Septic Tank Problems

Septic tank, is form of sewage system which acts on the principle of anaerobic decomposition. If not maintained properly, it can pose various serious problems like overflowing, chocking, clogging, or emitting toxic gases.
Buzzle Staff
Last Updated: Apr 22, 2018
Since ancient times, Anaerobic Bacteria are used for sewage treatment and managing cattle waste. This bacteria works on any kind of organic material to decompose it. It is a simple mechanism which reduces the quantity of organic debris by processing it. Organic substances include any biological waste, leftover food, sewage, and animal waste etc. The septic tanks do perform on the very same function of these microbes.
The term septic denotes the environment of anaerobic bacteria. The tank is a form of sewage system which is based on the activities of anaerobic bacteria. This sewage system is actually a very small module of sewage system which usually operates at the individual houses. It is also known as Septic System. This comes under on-site sewage facility systems. The anaerobic bacteria, present in the closed tank decomposes the waste discharged in the tank.
The Tank
This tank is a rectangular or circular tank made up of concrete, fiber, or plastic having varying capacity ranging from 1000-2000 gallons. Generally, it is buried in the ground with its top surface in level of the ground.
It has two openings, one each at either end. While one end is attached to an inlet pipe carrying waste water, other end is secured to an outlet pipe also known as drainage pipe, carrying the water towards the drain field. A connector is used to connect with its outlets. It incorporates two or three vertical chambers, separated by walls which have an opening at its middle.
The Mechanism
Once the waste water enters the first chamber, solid waste gets settled in it allowing the scum to flow. The fluid part flows through opening to enter the next chamber and if solid waste is still present, then it gets settled there. The settled organic waste is then, decomposed by the micro-organisms present, through anaerobic process.
Decomposition reduces the volume of solid waste, while excess water which is relatively clear in appearance is carried out to a drain field or seepage field via an outlet. With percolation process, this excess water travels downward with its remaining impurities getting decomposed in the soil and water is either added to ground water or absorbed by roots of trees.
There are some two stage septic sewage systems available like Imhoff system. The basic difference between normal standard tank and such system is sewage is carried out in a different, isolated chamber, which does not allow the settled solid waste with liquid part. The solid waste which remains non-decomposed gets accumulated and eventually results in filling of tank. If the tank gets filled then naturally all the waste including water will flow over and reach to drain field. This will create real menace. Thus, it is important to empty the tank over the certain period.
Problems
1. As cooking oil and grease floats on water, dumping of such substances can fill up the upper part of the tank which can cause the inlet pipes to choke. Moreover, these substances are very difficult to decompose and can pose odor problems.

2. Induction of non-biodegradable products like cotton buds, sanitary towels etc. will clog and rapidly fill a tank. Hence, these materials should not be flushed in this manner.
3. Certain chemicals may hamper the working of a tank due to their chemical reactions with the tank itself, especially pesticides, herbicides, highly concentrated materials with bleach or caustic soda (lye) or any other inorganic materials.

4. The waste macerators or grinders for disposal of waste food should be avoided as these materials will cause a speedy overload of the system which can result in early failure.
5. Roots from trees and shrubbery growing above the tank or the drain field may also clog and or rupture them.

6. Pouring excessive water in the system through the inlet pipe can overload it and may become the reason for its failure. Periodic checking for plumbing leaks and practicing water conservation will help the system's operation.
7. Playgrounds and storage buildings may cause damage to a tank because of its ongoing impacts. In addition, covering the drainage field or the seepage field with an impervious surface, such as a driveway or parking area will seriously hamper its efficiency and may prove fatal to the tank and its absorption system.

If your system is damaged or has started malfunctioning, it is your duty to contact your local health or environmental authority before attempting any repairs, as improper repairs can lead to potential health hazards.
Environmental Problems
Under the anaerobic conditions of the tanks, some pollutants, in particular sulfates are transformed into hydrogen sulfide (H2S), a pungent and toxic gas. Likewise, nitrates, and organic nitrogen compounds are decomposed to release ammonia (NH3). As there is an activation of fermentation process due to anaerobic conditions, carbon dioxide, and methane formation takes place.