What is a Septic Tank and How Does It Work?

Not every home as a septic tank, but they provide a crucial service for the ones that do – these tanks ensure waste is still dealt with properly. In this article, the AA Turner Tankers team will detail what a septic tank is and how it works.



What is a Septic Tank?

A septic tank is, as the name suggests, a large tank positioned underground within the boundaries of a property. There can be more than one tank involved in a single septic tank, and they’re usually constructed of concrete, polyethylene or fibreglass. They’re designed to treat wastewater, separating the solid and organic matter from the liquid. 


Who needs a Septic Tank?

Septic tanks are mainly used by properties that are not connected to mains sewage. For homes that are connected to the sewage system, waste is transported through this system to a central sewage treatment plant. If your property isn’t connected to the main sewage system, then septic tanks provide a safe, hygienic method of wastewater removal and storage. 


How do Septic Tanks Work?

When wastewater travels through our drains, whether that’s from a toilet flushing or a sink draining, it runs into the septic tank. 



Once the wastewater has reached the tank, the process begins: the first thing to happen is that the solid materials in the wastewater begin to separate from the liquid and sink to the bottom of the tank. All the material that is collected at the bottom is known as ‘sludge’. Any grease or oil present in the wastewater will float to the top, forming a layer called ‘scum’.



Once the different types of matter have been separated, the next stage of the process begins. Between the scum layer at the top and the sludge at the bottom, you have wastewater – this wastewater needs to be drained away through an outlet pipe. 

The wastewater is used to naturally treat soil – the nutrients within the water are very valuable for the earth – but it’s important that the wastewater is not allowed to drain into the ground near properties, water supplies and other drainage areas. For this reason, specific drainage areas are allocated for each septic tank.

Septic tanks are extremely durable and long-lasting installations – you can expect between 20 and 40 years of service from your septic tank. Of course, it’s important that your septic tank is drained regularly to ensure safe and hygienic operation.

The specialists at AA Turner Tankers are fully licensed and qualified providers of septic tank emptying services across Colchester, Ipswich, Chelmsford and the surrounding areas. For more information about our septic tank emptying services, or to find out more about our other liquid waste management services, simply contact us today and we’ll be happy to help.