We’ve all heard the term ‘septic tank’ and some of us know we have one attached to our house… but do you know how your septic tank works?

A septic tank is an essential part of a home wastewater disposal system. It treats wastewater to remove solids and other contaminants. These may be from the kitchen, bathroom, or laundry area. Solids will settle into a thick sludge layer or float to the surface as scum. The water left behind will be treated further. Septic tanks allow the soil to absorb waste properly. Unlike traditional drain fields, which can store sludge for years, alternative systems must be pumped regularly.

A functioning septic system doesn’t have an odor, but it does have a distinctive smell. The odor is often described as sweet. However, a septic system that isn’t functioning properly doesn’t smell that way. The odor of a septic system can vary from one person to another.

If the system is malfunctioning, a homeowner may notice an unpleasant odor. The good news is that you can get help to fix it. Fortunately, a certified septic technician can help you repair or replace the system. If you’re unsure of your septic system, it’s best to consult with a professional.

The odor of a malfunctioning septic system may not be unpleasant, so don’t count on that. The smell comes from the sludge and wastewater that is accumulating in the tank. If these solids are left untreated, it can cause major problems in the long run – and it may not have a nasty smell. For example, if the septic system has failed it may need to be replaced, resulting in more expenses and frustration.

BOTTOM LINE: If a septic system has been neglected, get an inspection! It may be that pumping is the best way to prevent costly repairs.

The system should be cleaned every six to twelve months. The septic system should be inspected every few years, if not every couple. Sludge is a sign of a failing septic system. It will also lead to a clogged drainfield, which forces raw sewage into your bathtub. You do not want to wake up to that for your morning shower!

A septic system works by using bacteria to purify and sanitize water. The bacteria that survive in a septic system will eat up solids which cause foul odors. If that isn’t happening, the septic tank will not work properly. You should have a Septic System Experty – that’s US – come to your house to inspect and/or repair it as soon as possible.