Septic systems are more than just a system of pipes and drains. They are living, breathing environments. The microbial system that lives within a septic systems includes bacteria, enzymes, and yeast that play an active role in maintaining your systems. Their purpose is to digest any solids that have settled to the bottom of your septic tank to get the decomposition process started.
A typical septic system consists of a septic tank and a drainfield. The system is basically an underground wastewater treatment system that uses a combination of nature and technology to treat wastewater from household plumbing produced by kitchen drains, bathrooms and laundry.
Bacteria is naturally present in all septic tanks and originates from the organic waste that’s flushed into the septic tank. However, not all bacteria is “good,” meaning that it doesn’t have the ability to quickly break down the waste. Also, not all bacteria has the ability to break down grease, toilet paper and other waste. Some substances that are flushed into septic tanks kill “good” bacteria, such as laundry detergents, bleach, chemical drain cleaners and other products, so they need to be replenished. These are the reasons you need to add “good” bacteria to a septic tank.
The septic tank digests organic matter and separates floatable matter (such as oils and grease) and solids from the wastewater. Soil-based systems discharge the effluent, or wastewater, from the septic tank into a series of perforated pipes buried in a leach field that has been designed to slowly release the effluent into the soil.
Since solid materials need to remain within the septic tank to prevent clogging the drainage field and causing serious backup, they must be removed with the use of septic pumping trucks. What may be surprising is how infrequently pumping is needed (typically only once every 3-5 years).
This infrequency is all thanks to the vast colonies of microorganisms living within the tank. These work non-stop to break down waste materials, converting much of the solids into liquids that join the stream of effluent and gases that simply dissipate through the soil or leach field. A healthy bacterial environment is vital to maintaining septic system health. Without it, you would be faced with frequent maintenance and nasty, inconvenient issues.