Septic Tank Bacteria Treatment Explained
Septic Systems 101
Septic tanks are plugflow reactors wastewater enters, is cleansed as it progresses through the tank, and eventually drains at a steady rate. Once your wastewater enters the tank, its sorting and cleansing relies entirely on different biological/physical processes to work. Your waste breaks up and settles into different layers based on differences in density.
To better understand, think of your septic tank as an organized trash receptacle; recyclables, glass, food waste they are all separated into their respective slots for better disposal. Likewise, when the wastewater empties into the septic tank, it settles into three separate layers. All heavy waste settles at the bottom on your septic tank due to its greater density, and forms a layer called sludge. Sludge consists primarily of solid wastes, which includes lowgrade tissue paper, hygiene products, etc. The top layer, scum, is made up of all less dense, lighter waste usually oils and proteins. Effluent is the middle most layer and is composed of relatively clear waste water.
If the stratification of your waste doesn't properly develop; the effluent’s purity levels are put in jeopardy. And, because effluent is the fluid that eventually drains into your leachfields; your soil and groundwater suffer as a result. Therefore, it is especially important that your septic tank's ecosystem is functioning properly in order to assure that your soil, and ultimately your environment, remain healthy and clear of pollutants.
Septic Tank Biology
Your septic tank is an anaerobic digestive system its own natural ecosystem is what performs all of the dissolution. The microscopic organisms that make up your tank's ecosystem are known as microbes. They help to eliminate waste by breaking down organic material into gases (methane, carbon dioxide, etc) and other soluble compounds. The many different bacterial strains present in your septic tank are the microbial heavy lifters of the team the chief digesters. Enzymes, another naturally forming microbe, provide support for the bacteria.
In order to reach efficient levels of digestion, the enzymes and bacteria in your tank can take years to sufficiently establish their ideal environmental conditions. However, once those conditions are met your septic tank should be able to regulate itself with minimal interference necessary.
What happens next?
The dissolution of your household waste is a delicate three part process, and your septic tank merely marks the beginning. Once your water waste is purified and cleansed as much as your septic tank's ecosystem can manage your effluent is emptied into your drainfields. There, your wastewater is absorbed by the soil and steadily disperses, ideally at an equal rate to which your household consumes.
The soil surrounding your drainfield provides the final purifying element for all septic waste. To begin with, the physical space between soil particles suck up and trap any impurities in the groundwater. And eventually the microorganisms present in the soil which are not dissimilar to your septic tank's ecosystem break down all other pollutants.
The groundwater that is released into the environment should be clear of all waste after having been purified by the ecosystems of your septic tank, and the soil surrounding your leechfields.
Why am I having problems?
Now with a better understanding of how exactly all of your waste is disposed of you might be questioning how you could possibly run into any problems. While it is true your septic tank can handle almost anything you can throw at it, this is assuming your tank is operating under perfect working conditions. There are circumstances that can impede its success. Your septic tank is a biological machine and like all machines, if one cog malfunctions, the remaining cogs have to try and pick up the slack. Eventually the system will be overwhelmed and will fail once proven incapable of functioning probably.
For example, introducing harsh chemicals into your system will hinder the enzymes' ability to efficiently break down waste. Enzymes naturally react and bind to the salts and heavy metals that can be found in these chemical products (bleaches, detergents, etc). Put plainly; when you pour chemical products down your drains, you are "killing off" a chunk of your tank's ecosystem.
Killing off your system's ecosystem reduces the likelihood of your effluent being as pure as it should be. With such a smaller workforce, your tank's ecosystem isn't capable of adequately purifying your wastewater. And, when released, the impurities of your effluent may cause problems in your leechfields. When your wastewater is heavily tainted, it may even pollute your groundwater, thereby decimating the environment surrounding your septic system. (See more information on the septic tank's effect on groundwater)
This sort of interference with your septic system also increases the chance of a sludge buildup. Sludge buildups are the most common cause of backups in both your septic tank you’re your drainlines. These backups often lead to pump outs; a desperate attempt at fixing a problem you could have prevented.
Pump outs don't fix the problems caused by an unbalanced septic tank ecosystem; they just exasperate them. When you pump your tank out, you are not only emptying your tank of the excess sludge buildup, but also the budding ecosystem that is trying to keep your tank maintained. Furthermore; pumping your tank out regularly doesn't give the microbes enough time to reach peak efficiency levels. This leads to a selfperpetuating cycle of problems with your septic system and regular pumpouts.
These problems are largely unavoidable. If your washing machine empties into your septic tank chemicals are going to be introduced to your system. Some toilet paper will end up settling as sludge in your tank, despite your diligent attempt to avoid flushing paper products down the commode.
Accidents happen. These problems occur despite your best attempts at preventing them. Maintaining your septic tank is the key to a problem free lifetime.
Chemical Products to Avoid
To start off with, there are many products out on the market that are advertized to help fix existing problems in your household plumbing.These products are certainly successful at fixing the problems in your home, however they have a crippling effect on both your septic system and the environment.
Inorganic Compounds are found in products that aim to unclog the drains and pipes in your home. These products consist of strong acids and alkalis that break down any matter stuck in your drains/pipes.
Unfortunately, acids and alkalis are corrosive, and if used often enough, are likely to eat away at your plumbing, and eventually your septic tank. In the long run, it is unwise to use any products that contain these particular chemicals no matter how quickly they are advertised to work.
Organic Solvents are the main driving force behind degreasing products. These solvents are made up of chlorinated hydrocarbons harmful chemicals that are skillful killers of the many microorganisms that make up your tank’s ecosystem.
The disposal of these products down your drains is illegal in many states. If given the opportunity to spread into the soil surrounding your drainfields, these products can have a disastrous affect on your environment. And, it is possible to be held legally accountable for any contamination of your land’s groundwater.
Maintenance Products Explained
So now, to the crux of the matter how do you maintain a septic system? Other than changing your household’s daily habits (not flushing toilet paper down the commode, only washing full loads of laundry, etc) the only sure way is by using a product monthly.
Picking a product can be a daunting project there are so many out there on the market claiming to be the best thing for your system. And, as you can see many of these products prove to be made up of harmful chemicals and compounds. To help illustrate the differences between maintenance additives most products can be broken down into a few basic categories.
Odor Control Additives are advertised to eliminate any foul odors that arise from your septic system. These products work by introducing harmful chemical compounds such as formaldehyde and ammonia into your tank specifically to kill off bacteria (which do naturally produce some odors). However, I’m sure you can conclude that these additives do more harm than good. Your septic tank’s bacteria is the driving force of your system’s ecosystem. Killing them off cripples the system and ultimately just causes more problems.
A well maintained septic system should not produce any odors at all. And, if you are running into problems with odors you should investigate the problem further. Some possible Odor producing problems include the surfacing of polluted wastewater in your drainfields, ruptured or clogged drainlines/fieldlines, and problems in your home plumbing. All of these issues are fixable, and do not require any harsh odor reducing products to do so.
Solid Reducing Additives aim to prevent problems by keeping the purity of your tank’s effluent as clear of suspended solids as possible. This is known as flocculation or the process of taking solids out of suspension using clarifying agents.
Theoretically, reducing the amount of solids and impurities in your effluent (which is, as you are aware, the ultimate goal of your system) will help maintain the system, and help the environment by doing so. However, there is no research that suggests economical doses of flocculants are effective at purifying your effluent. You would need to use an unconventional amount of product to effect the system.
Furthermore, assuming that you are able to use such an amount of product these Solid reducing additives only help maintain one “cog” of your system. Problems may occur due to any number of other things.
Biological Additives are designed to enhance your septic tank’s natural biological system. We’ve spoken in detail about the importance of the ecosystem how the bacteria and enzymes present in your tank are fundamental to its workings. These products are usually composed of the most common bacterial strains and enzymes found in your tank.
As stated in the beginning the efficiency of a product depends on how well it works with your natural system. These biological additives tend to have the best results because they merely aim to enhance your system’s inner-workings.
The only issue you have to take into consideration when choosing a biological product is that most on the market do not live up to expectation. Oftentimes these additives hide their very nature in the fine print. Make sure to read the ingredient lists of each additive to make sure that you are getting the most out of your product. And, if the ingredient list isn’t readily available you can guarantee that it is not a product you want to waste money on.
What does this all mean?
When on the market for a new product, make sure to look for biological additives specifically those created by companies that are trustworthy and forthcoming. Because many additives contain fillers, they often are incapable of continuously refreshing your tank’s natural ecosystem. So, practice due diligence and make sure to research any prospective products. A product’s label should be transparent: ingredients should be noted, and guarantees should be made.
Our company strives to live up to all of these expectations. We manufacture a product named Activator 1000 a preventative maintenance product that is designed to work with your system. It consists of both aerobic/anaerobic bacteria and three naturally forming enzymes.
Lipase breaks down all fats and grease by attacking its molecular structure and dissolving them. Amylase likewise breaks down all starches present in your tank. And, Protease attacks all of the other organic waste clogging up your tank.
Using our product on a monthly basis will keep your septic system maintained. We guarantee that you won't run into any problems while using Activator 1000. It really is the best thing for your system and the environment.
But, as stated, you should be the one to decide that for yourself. Research our product. Read more about Activator 1000 in our customer reviews, and buy a Septic Tank Treatment Product that will work for you.