Understanding the proper procedures for septic tank care, septic tank cleaning frequency, and other septic tank maintenance chores, will permit the owner of a home with an onsite septic system to maximize the life of the system and to assure that it is working properly.
The most common domestic wastewater treatment system used in rural areas is the septic tank-soil absorption system. The septic tank removes settleable and floatable solids from the waste water. The soil absorption field then filters and treats the clarified septic tank effluent and distributes it through the soil.
Removing the solids from the wastewater protects the soil absorption system from clogging and failure. In addition to removing solids, the septic tank also promotes biological digestion of a portion of the solids and stores the remaining undigested portion.
The first stage of the treatment system, the septic tank, removes solids by holding wastewater in the tank. This allows the heavier solids to settle as sludge and the lighter particles to form scum at the top.
To accomplish this, wastewater should be held in the tank for at least 24 hours. Up to 50 percent of the solids retained in the tank decompose; the remainder accumulate in the tank. Biological and chemical additives are not needed to aid or accelerate decomposition.