If you have a septic tank, you may be wondering if you need an effluent filter. The answer depends on a few factors, including the size of your septic tank, the type of soil you have, and the amount of water you use.
What Is An Effluent Filter?
Your septic system is designed to manage and process all the wastewater from your home. After exiting the home into the septic tank, the wastewater separates into three layers. The heavier solids sink to the bottom, and the materials that are lighter than water (oils, fats, and grease) float to the top. The middle layer, called effluent, moves from the tank into the drainfield, where it slowly percolates out of the perforated pipes through the ground, which removes any remaining contaminants.
While the effluent is primarily liquid, some small solid particles, such as hair or grit, can remain suspended in it. If these particles accumulate in the drainfield, they can cause clogs.
An effluent filter is typically installed between the septic tank and the leach field, in the baffle of the septic tank. In essence, a septic tank with a filter has an added layer of protection against blockages occurring in the pipes exiting the tank and in the leach field.
What Happens If a Drainfield Fails?
Your septic drain field (otherwise known as leach field or leach bed) is a critical part of your home’s septic system. It ensures that the water that gets back into the environment is purified and safe.
If too much solid material gets into the drainfield pipes, they can become clogged. This can lead to several problems.
Your septic tank may become overfull as the drainfield cannot keep up with the amount of wastewater that needs to be processed. At first, this can result in the need for more frequent septic tank pumping.
If the blockages do not get removed and the septic tank cannot handle the incoming liquid, sewage can back up into the home. This is not only unsanitary, but it can be potentially hazardous.
Here are a few signs of septic drainfield problems that suggest you may need septic service:
- Sinks, toilets, tubs, showers, or laundry equipment drain slowly. This may be a sign of a clog anywhere in your septic system, from the main sewer pipe to the drainfield.
- Gurgling noises coming from the plumbing can be caused by clogged pipes.
- Water standing in the yard near the drainfield can suggest that the system is overloaded and unable to properly process all the wastewater being put through.
- Foul odors or smells near the drainfield can be caused by untreated solid particles making their way past the septic tank.
Septic Tank Filter Maintenance
Under normal conditions, a filter for a septic tank should be able to function for several years without the need for cleaning. However, that does not mean that the filter can go without maintenance indefinitely.
Residential septic tanks should be pumped every three to five years to clear out solids and sludge. This ensures that the septic system will continue to function effectively and helps maximize the usable lifespan.
Regular pumping is a perfect time to have the septic tank filter cleaned as well. Ask your septic company if this service is included in the cost of septic tank pumping.
Do It Yourself Effluent Filter Cleaning
If you choose to clean the effluent filter yourself, here are the steps:
- Dress appropriately. Pants, long-sleeve shirt, gloves, goggles, and boots should be worn to ensure that you do not come into contact with untreated sewage.
- Locate and remove the septic tank lid.
- Carefully remove the filter cartridge, keeping it over the first manhole so that any effluent will go back into the septic tank and not to the drainfield.
- Using a hose, spray the cartridge while continuing to hold the cartridge over the first manhole.
- Conduct a visual inspection to ensure that the debris is completely removed.
- If the filter has an alarm, check that it is working properly by lifting the float switch. This should sound the alarm.
- Replace the effluent filter by putting it firmly back into place. Be careful that it is placed appropriately.
- Replace the septic tank lid.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and change your clothes immediately.
- Be sure to record the date in your septic record. This is important for knowing when the cleaning was done in the event that any problems arise in the future.
The Value of Having Regular Septic Inspections
The best way to ensure that your entire septic system, including the septic tank filter, is functioning effectively is to have regular septic inspections from a professional septic company.
There are two types of septic inspections – visual and full. A visual inspection offers a cursory assessment of the system. These may be done during real estate transactions if there are no signs of any septic issues.
A full septic inspection is a much more detailed evaluation and can include:
- Measuring the levels of sludge and scum found in the septic tank
- Inspecting all filters, including the effluent filter
- Inspecting and testing any pumps or alarms that are part of the septic system.
- Determining if the septic tank is appropriately sized for the property.
- Checking for leaks anywhere, from the exit pipes to the drainfield.
- Assessing whether the drainfield is draining properly
- Evaluating all the septic system’s components for age and determining if they are in need of being replaced or repaired
- Ensuring that the drain lines all receive equal amounts of effluent
- Pumping the septic tank
Septic Service In & Near Lakeland, FL
Homeowners and business owners throughout central Florida rely on Septic and Drainfield Depot to provide all the septic services they need. Our experienced team of septic professionals offers a full range of services, from routine maintenance and septic tank pumping to septic system installation.
When you need the best septic company in and near Lakeland, contact us today for a free estimate!