The Ultimate Septic Tank Cleaning Quiz

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About This Quiz

Cleaning your septic tank might be an unwelcome chore, but doing so can help you avoid having problems with your immediate home environment. Take this quiz and learn how to make your life easier when the time comes.

Is a drain something that needs daily maintenance?

Not really. The drain, with normal usage, is something that just works without too much trouble.

How many American homes have a septic system?

According to the American Ground Water Trust, about a third.

What is a septic system?

It is a tank buried outside the home that stores sewage.

Into how many layers, if any, is the waste water divided in the septic tank?

There are three layers: sludge on the bottom, effluent in the middle and scum (oils, fats and protein) on top.

What is the term used for the components of the septic tank?

These are called septage.

How would you describe a leach field?

It is a set of pipes with holes drilled into them that release the effluent below ground.

What filters the effluent?

Good soil will filter the effluent.

What do you think happens to growths above the drain field?

This is usually the healthiest area, because of the organic material in the effluent that acts as fertilizer.

Because of their relatively simplicity, do you think septic tanks require constant maintenance?

Although the design is simple, septic tank problems can cause serious repair costs, which are avoidable by basic monitoring.

How do you empty a septic tank?

It needs to be pumped out by a company offering that service.

What is the best way to tell when a tank needs to be pumped?

Check to see the level of the floating scum layer.

When should you have the septic tank pumped.

When the level of the scum layer is within 6 inches (15.2 centimeters) of the outlet pipe would be a good time.

How often is it recommended to have your septic tank checked?

A septic tank should be checked annually.

How often does an average septic tank need to be pumped?

According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) every one to three years.

There are products available designed to prolong periods between pumpings. Is it a good idea to use them?

Not advisable. These chemicals could cause a harmful imbalance in the ecosystem that develops in the septic tank.

What is the worst that can happen in your house if the septic tank overflows?

This would not be pleasant. Toilets and drains could disgorge what you would prefer to stay in the septic tank.

Could there be problems below ground?

Waste water could contaminate groundwater and eventually the water you drink.

Are there any serious health hazards that could result from a septic tank overflow?

Waste entering the water supply can carry diseases like hepatitis.

Okay, once you have had your septic tank pumped, where does that delightful load go?

The contents of the septic tank are usually taken to some form of commercial or public waste treatment facility.

Is there any practical non-controversial use for septage?

Methane, a waste product in the breakdown of sewage, can be used to generate electricity.

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