Understanding Your Septic Tank and Plumbing Systems

Understanding Your Septic Tank and Plumbing Systems

What is a Septic Tank?

April 12, 2022 4 Read

We are all aware that wastewater usually goes into extensive, sophisticated treatment facilities where water is rid of bacteria and other components harmful to the environment before it is discharged. However, not all towns can afford to build and maintain wastewater treatment facilities. Besides financial and maintenance constraints, the place itself predicts which type of water treatment would suit it best.

According to Septic Tank Service Bradenton FL, in rural areas, houses are located a bit far apart that a sewer system would be deemed too expensive to build, with all the longer pipes and a lot of plumbing services it will require. Therefore, people install their little treatment facilities called septic tanks.

A septic tank is one chunk of concrete or steel usually located in the yard, buried. At most, a septic tank can hold 1,000 gallons or 4,000 liters of water in one sitting. A septic tank lets sewer water enter one end and then go out the other end.

Once sewer water enters the septic tank, it settles into three layers. Anything that forms and rises to the top is identified as scum, and thus, this is called the scum layer. The scum layer usually consists of solid wastes not too heavy to settle at the bottom.

Those that settle under the water are called sludge. Thus, this is called the sludge layer. The sludge layer consists of semi-solid materials that settle in the tank about one and a half hours after entering the tank. Sewage sludge usually consists of organic solids, nutrients, and pathogenic organisms that are disease-causing, such as bacteria, viruses, et cetera, that come from household chemicals mixed with human wastes.

The Piping System Within a Septic Tank

In sewer water, organic materials are broken down by bacteria in the water. This makes the septic tank naturally produce gasses, which give off a foul odor. To stop these gasses from flowing back into the house, sinks are installed with pipes called P-traps that hold the water in the lower loop and, in turn, block the gasses. These gasses go up a vent pipe instead.

You might be wondering, “what happens to the septic tank when a new batch of sewer water comes in?” New sewer water comes in from one point and displaces the water already in there. It then goes out to another point and into the drain field.

Drain fields are made of perforated pipes buried deep in trenches filled with gravel. A drain filed line usually measures four inches or 10 centimeters in diameter. These pipes are buried in trenches, usually four to six feet deep or 1.5 meters and two feet or 0.6 meters wide. The gravel occupies two to three feet of the canal. Dirt then covers it up.

Once the wastewater reaches the drain fields, it is slowly absorbed and filtered into the ground. Ground conditions are tested first to determine how big or small a drain field should be. This is done through a percolation test or perc test. This is a test designed to assess the soil’s absorption rate where a septic drain field will be constructed. It studies how quickly a given volume of water can dissipate into the subsoil of a specified area. In percolation tests, results usually show that sandy soil has a higher absorption rate than soil with a high concentration of clay. Therefore, more extensive drain fields are needed for areas with high clay concentration.

Why Are Plumbing Services Important for Septic Tank Maintenance?

Septic tanks do not require electricity for them to work. Gravity is the only thing that keeps sewer water out of the houses and into the drain fields. This is what they call the passive system of the septic tank. However, your plumbing systems should be in top-notched condition for sewer water to flow smoothly. Hiring professional plumbing services will ensure that all your drainage and sewage pipes are not leaking and create a smooth sewage flow away from your home.


A septic tank is a holding tank for sewage that uses gravity to drain sewer water into a drainage field. It has three layers: scum, sludge, and effluent. To ensure that your septic tanks are in good working condition, hire professional plumbing services.