You know you have a septic tank when…

… that inescapable blast of foul-smelling odour of sewage hits you in the face, unexpectedly, on just another regular day. Or when you notice that patch of glossy, sludgy, mossy, stinky build-up in the corner of the yard. In both cases you likely have no idea what’s causing it or what you can do to prevent it.

Step 1 is usually to back-track and figure out where the stench or those effluents are emanating from, when you realise, quite to your surprise, that there’s an entire underground chamber collecting the nasty stuff, right within the plot of land you live on.

So what is the function of a septic tank, really? 47% of urban Indian households are connected to septic tanks and they form the first step in sewage management on the ground level, in most parts of our country. To quickly recap, septic tanks are water-tight chambers that are placed underground within the premise of a home, residential complex or commercial establishment. They are typically made of concrete, but sometimes also from fibreglass or polyethylene. Sizes vary depending on the requirements, based on whether they’re servicing individual homes, larger residential complexes or commercial establishments. Their primary function is to be a fundamental storage area for the wastewater generated within the premise. That apart, septic tanks also initiate the primary processing of this wastewater. Mechanisms within the tank allow the solid matter in the waste to settle, and allowing oil and grease float to the top.

Within the chamber, anaerobic microbes and other naturally-occurring bacteria act on the waste matter, beginning a very crucial process of decomposition and breaking it down. This preliminary disintegration and dissolution is essential, in order to make the water that separates from it, fit to move ahead. Post this separation, the liquid component that remains, goes one of two ways. Either down to a wastewater treatment plant managed by a civic body within the urban areas where it is processing some more. Alternatively, depending on its composition and if it is fit for release, is channelled into a nearby waterway, such as a canal, lake or river. Therefore, the right and healthy functioning is important. Without it, the waste produced will not be processed adequately and we run the risk of releasing impure, organically charged and bacteria ridden wastewater back into our environment, putting entire civilizations of human beings, plant and animal life at risk.

So it’s a good idea not to wait until something malfunctions and you have a debilitating, foul odour take over the air around you before you figure out how your septic tank works and how you can ensure it stays working well. Your septic tank is like any other functioning gadget of convenience in your home. It performs a crucial function, requires maintenance checks at stipulated intervals of time and needs attention and care so it can do its job well. It’s best to stay on top of things, to understand your septic tank and everything that you need to do to keep it in good shape.

If you are not sure if you have a septic tank on your premise, here are a few quick and easy ways to check:

  1. Check architectural and engineering drawings of the building, if you have access to them
  2. Walk around the premise and look for manholes. They will typically have metal lids and covers
  3. Contact your local municipality service to help locate it

Here are some unmistakeable tell-tale signs of a possible failure within your septic tank:

  1. Foul odour: this is one of the most commonly occurring indicators that there could be a problem or a malfunction within your septic tank. This occurs because while waste is continuously collected within the tank, the excessive use of chemical cleaners loaded with antimicrobial chemicals sometimes create an imbalance in the natural microbiome and amongst microflora that do the work of decomposition. This sometimes causes the degradation process to slow down or be ineffective, which leads to deposits of scum and waste resulting in a foul odour.
  2. If and when there is a malfunction in the septic tank, the degradation process is the first to take a hit. This causes gradual build-up of sludge within the tank. Since the tank is a contained finite space, the sludge will find its way out through soil, seeping up visibly in areas in the yard, garden or parking area of your premise. This is likely untreated sewage, containing harmful bacteria and pathogens that can cause health hazards.
  3. Another common visual indicator of septic failure is the presence of pooled effluent on the surface of the yard. If this has happened, it means the surrounding soil environment in the area has already become saturated with untreated waste material that has leeched all around. This can have an overwhelming foul odour and is a huge health hazard as the untreated waste and liquid could contain untreated faecal matter which is a primary carrier for pathogens and germs that cause diarrhoea, cholera and typhoid.

The use of our product Bioclean Septic can ensure that the balance of microbes within the tank is naturally maintained. The microbes within this formulation harbour a natural and safe blend of specific enzyme producing microbes that are geared to deal with septic tank cleansing and management. These microbes will ensure that the environment within the septic tank degrades waste effectively, naturally and efficiently, and are adapted to tolerate and counter the exposure to household chemicals that could potentially ruin the environment within. Regular use can also reduce the need to physically remove waste over a stipulated period of time, thereby reducing the exposure to toxic gases otherwise present in the tank. Bioclean Septic is specifically formulated for the digestion of organic waste (primarily human faecal matter), elimination of odour, removal of sludge build up in drain pipes, septic tanks and leach pits.

Apart from the use of a product like Bioclean Septic, you could also adopt the following basic practices to ensure better functioning of your septic tank:

  1. Always conserve water: since the septic tank can only handle a finite amount of waste water at a time, it’s good to limit overloading it, so as to allow it to efficiently perform the function it is meant to
  2. Be hyper aware of what you’re flushing down the drain: avoid flushing things that will not be degraded in the tank, such as non-biodegradable products, heavy fats and grease, chemicals and fuel, to name a few
  3. Use septic safe cleaning products only: be aware of the effects of harmful chemicals and how they’re affecting septic tanks and the environment around us and diligently avoid using them
  4. Ensure frequent maintenance around the tank: keep the area around your septic tank free of trees that have aggressively growing roots that could cause damage to pipes and walls in the tank, keep the area clean and accessible at all times
  5. Set up a cleaning schedule: every septic tank will have a stipulated time period when it will require pumping and cleaning, which needs your attention and intervention.

However, one of the benefits of using microbial cleaners such as Bioclean Septic to help with the breakdown of organic waste without causing an imbalance in the microbial environment is that it aids in longterm maintenance. As long as the septic tank has a healthy microbial balance, it will reduce the need for frequent pumping out of waste.

Post by Khushboo Shroff