Call us: (510) 886-4455 | Serving East Bay, North Bay, South Bay, West Bay & The Greater San Francisco Bay Area

A1 Tank Service A homeowners guide to septic tank basics

A Homeowner’s Guide to Septic Tank Basics

Homes that are not connected to the city’s main sewage line have a septic tank. According to US Census data and EPA reports, as many as 1,150,287 homes in California rely on septic tank sewage systems rather than city sewer. Knowing what a septic tank is and how it works is vital to every homeowner with one because this will help them properly utilize and maintain their sewage system.

A homeowner’s septic tank is an essential component of their home’s function that removes wastewater from your house. When treating the wastewater, the tank utilizes natural processes and technology.

Your Septic Tank: The Basics

A septic tank has a straightforward design; a watertight container is either round or rectangular and is made of fiberglass, concrete, or plastic that is placed underground.

The chamber has two pipes—the inlet and outlet. The inlet is responsible for the collection of water waste, and this is also where the solid and liquid waste gets separated from each other. On the other hand, the outlet pipe, which is also called the drain field, is the one that moves the pre-processed wastewater from the tank and spreads them evenly in the soil and other water pathways.

When the wastewater goes through these pipes, they are typically separated into three layers. The first layer, which is the top layer, is where the scum is. On the second layer is where you can find the wastewater with waste particles, and the last layer contains heavier particles, which usually form a sludge.

Water from Your House to the Septic Tank

The water that goes through the chamber usually comes from your kitchen, bathroom, and other areas where water is flushed out. All of the water from these areas runs through the main drainage pipe and directly to the tank.

When the water reaches the chamber, it begins its process in which the wastewater goes through either of the two pipes and gets separated into three layers. Once this whole process is completed, it then goes through the soil, and it removes any bacteria and viruses.

Keep in mind that septic tanks must be cleaned at least once every 3-5 years, depending on their size. If they are not cleaned regularly, toxins and other bacteria will build up in the chamber that may kill the important bacteria that help break down the waste.


Knowing the basics about a septic tank and how it works will help you determine if it is working right. This is because faulty chambers can easily accumulate too much sludge and scum, and such situations can end up causing blockages and other costly problems. If you don’t know how it works, it will be difficult for you to notice a problem until it blows up, and you surely wouldn’t want to deal with a broken or damaged septic tank.

Should you notice any problems with your septic tank system, you can hire an emergency septic service to address the problem right away so that severe problems are kept at bay. Make sure that you also have septic cleaning regularly to maintain the health of your tank.

If you need a 24-hour emergency septic service in the San Francisco Bay Area, get in touch with A-1 Septic Tank Service, Inc. today and let our professionals handle your problems!

Scroll to Top