15 Feb 2021

Septic Tanks 101 And How To Avoid Septic Tank Nightmares

Septic tanks…they’re only used in caravan parks and commercial premises, right? Actually….WRONG! They’re often installed on residential properties in rural areas not served by the public sewer system. We'll help demystify septic tanks & desludging, together with providing some easy maintenance tips.

Septic Tanks 101 And How To Avoid Septic Tank Nightmares

Septic tanks…they’re only used in caravan parks and commercial premises, right? Actually….WRONG! They’re often installed on residential properties in rural areas not served by the public sewer system. In fact, according to Yarra Valley Water, “because many homes in Melbourne were built before sewerage was available, more than 11,000 properties in the outer northern and eastern suburbs (alone) are still using septic tank systems.”

If the phrase ‘septic tank’ still has you baffled, read on as we dymystify it for you. 

Septic tank – in its most simplified definition is a tank, generally underground, in which sewage (aka domestic wastewater) collects for treatment. These on-site systems, although often a misunderstood up-front expense, can save you from a lot of unnecessary expense down the track if installed and managed correctly and consistently. 

A related tricky term to understand is ‘desludging’. What is it?

Well, let’s break it down (pardon the pun!). 

‘Sludge’ is a layer of solids that builds up over time and settles at the bottom of a primary septic tank. The remainding waste then moves on from the primary tank. Included in this part of the waste is what is known as ‘scum’ which is made up of fats, oils and grease (FOGs). This scum floats to the top of the wastewaster forming its own layer. 

Desludging is the process of cleaning or emptying the septic tank, that is removing both the sludge and the scum from the system. EPA-accredited companies, such as Harmor Liquid Waste Solutions, will use a vacuum truck to perform this specialist process. The number of people living in your house, the capacity of your specific system, together with some other variables, will determine how often your system needs de-sludging, but on average the system of a typical four-bedroom home should be desludged every three years. 

What nightmares can you expect if you don’t get your septic tank desludged regularly?

  • Your sewer drain may block, which may cause raw sewage to back-up into the house
  • Raw sewage may discharge from your Overflow Relief Gully (ORG) in your backyard
  • High sludge and scum levels may cause poor performance of your septic system leading to blockages of the system and or associated pumps, costly repairs, and bad odours

What can you do to help avoid septic tank nightmares?

  • Limit harsh cleaning products entering your septic tank, as they can damage the good bacteria which help to process the wastewater
  • Be aware that food scraps, fats, oils and grease play a contributing factor
  • Understand that strong medications such as antibiotics or blood pressure tablets can compromise the septic system’s bacteria
  • Ensure that sanitary items are not flushed, as will cause pipe blockage

So, now that you understand some more about septic tanks, the problems that can occur and how to avoid them, remember that what you pour down the drain, routine maintenance and regular desludging are key to having a good working septic system. 

For more information or to obtain a quotation, please contact us on 1800 HARMOR.

16

More than

16

years of expertise

44790

More than

44790

jobs completed

3600

More than

3600

happy customers

20

More than

20

vehicles on the road