What is a septic tank?
A septic tank is a tank that holds the water, toilet paper and waste from toilet flushes. It is a basic type of onsite waste facility. Most domestic septic tanks are 1600L concrete tanks.
How does a septic tank work?
The septic system uses bacteria to break down and “eat” the solids (poo and toilet paper) that enter the septic tank. When the bacteria are alive and healthy, the solids are slowly broken down, but if the bacteria die off, a crust begins to form on the top of the tank and the solids in the tank begin to turn hard. When this happens, if the tank is not pumped out, over time the contents of the tank can turn into hard dirt which needs to be broken up and mixed with water before it can be pumped out. This hard buildup can block the pipes and also cause blockages in the trenches and cause new waste entering the tank to overflow.
Septic Tank Sludge Breaking Down
How septic tank blockages occur
Blockages in septic tanks can occur for a couple of reasons. First, without bacteria and bugs in the septic tank, solids will form a “crust” on the surface of the water and cause the tank to ultimately block up the inlet and outlet pipes. Secondly, if too much “sludge” accumulates in the septic tank to the point where it is exiting the outlet pipe, blockages will also occur and toilet drains will clog. For these reasons, we recommend that you pump out the septic tank on a regular basis to prevent the extra costs of blockages and damage that can occur.
How to Clean a Septic Tank
When choosing a company to pump out your septic tank, it’s important to check that they will open the main lid of the tank to perform a thorough pump out, clean and inspection of the tank. On every occasion Lee’s Environmental provides the highest quality clean to ensure your tank is kept in optimum condition. When we clean out a septic tank, we don’t just do a quick pump out through the inspection opening. Our regular service includes:
Lift up the main lid and pump out the septic tank
Scrape down all walls and baffles to remove accumulated sludges
Rinse out the tank with a garden hose
Pump out the rinse out residue
Inspect the tank and advise of any repairs or maintenance needed
Lifting the heavy main lid of a septic tank with gatic lifters
Refilling a freshly cleaned septic tank with water to prevent hydrostatic lift
Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Septic Tank
Follow these guidelines to help keep the bacteria in your tank healthy:
Only use 1 or 2 ply toilet paper
Repair leaking toilets
Install a dual-flush cistern for the toilet
Don’t flush other items down the toilet including tampons, sanitary napkins, condoms, paper towels, cat litter or nappy wipes.
Pump out your septic tank
every 2-5 years. Lee’s Environmental can test your septic tank to determine if it’s due for a pump out.
How to clean a toilet connected to a septic tank
Septic toilets should be cleaned with natural products to ensure the bacteria in the tank are alive so they can break down the waste.
For a great recipe to keep your toilet fresh, please see our blog article Septic Toilet Cleaning Recipe
Products to clean a septic toilet
Septic Tank Repairs
Lee’s Environmental can assist with the repair or replacement of your septic tank lids and baffles and repairs to septic tank walls.
Septic Tank Lids
A standard septic tank has a concrete lid with a main lid in the centre and two inspection openings either side. Keeping lids in good condition ensures that odors do not escape from the tank. We can replace the concrete inspection opening lids with new ones, and also replace the main concrete lid with a new one in most cases. If a concrete lid cannot be used, we can arrange for a custom checkerplate lid that is bolted over the septic tank.
Septic Tank Baffles
Septic tank baffles help to prevent solids from flowing out of the septic tank and blocking up the pipes and trenches. They work by allowing the solid waste to settle on the bottom of the tank and build up as “sludge”. Septic tanks need both an inlet baffle and an outlet baffle. As part of our standard service, we will check and let you know if there are any issues with your baffles and arrange for replacement.
Septic Tank Repairs
Depending on the condition of your tank, Lee’s Environmental can patch/repair the septic tank walls or assist with the replacement of your tank if needed.