The Basics of How a Septic Tank Works


At Maintain Drains, we understand the critical role that septic tanks play in effective wastewater management for many properties, particularly in regions without centralised sewage systems. This article aims to demystify how a septic tank works, offering valuable insights for property owners and facility managers. As a professional drainage company based in Poole and helping people across the South, we specialise in septic tank maintenance among our comprehensive drainage solutions.

What is a Septic Tank?

A septic tank is a key component of on-site sewage disposal systems. These tanks, commonly made from concrete or plastic, are designed to treat wastewater from homes and commercial buildings, especially in areas beyond the reach of municipal sewage lines. Understanding how a septic tank works, as well as the function and maintenance of septic tanks, is crucial for property owners for effective waste management and environmental care.

How Does a Septic Tank Work?

The function of a septic tank centres on the separation and treatment of waste. Wastewater enters the larger chamber of the tank, where bacteria and enzymes break down solid matter into a liquid form. This liquid then moves into a smaller chamber, where it is prepared for discharge into a drain field or soil absorption area. This process, reliant on microbial action, is environmentally efficient and crucial for waste reduction.

Components of a Septic System

The septic system extends beyond the tank, encompassing vital components such as the leach field and vent pipe. The leach field, or drain field, is where the effluent undergoes further purification. Here, the liquid is filtered through gravel trenches, with the soil acting as a natural barrier to harmful substances. The vent pipe plays a role in maintaining pressure balance and expelling gases from the system.

Maintenance and Troubleshooting

At Maintain Drains, we emphasise the importance of regular septic system maintenance. Timely inspections and pumping are essential to prevent common issues like blockages or overflows. Recognising early warning signs, such as slow drains or unpleasant smells, allows for prompt intervention and resolution of potential problems. Professional assistance in maintenance and repair is critical to avoid further complications.

Our Expertise in Septic Tank Maintenance

We offer reliable and efficient septic tank maintenance, backed by our commitment to customer satisfaction and 24/7 availability. Our investment in advanced technology and continuous staff training ensures that we are prepared to handle any septic tank challenge swiftly and safely. Our team is equipped to manage all aspects of septic tank maintenance, assuring property owners of the best care for their systems.


Understanding how a septic tank works is essential for anyone responsible for a property with such a system. Regular maintenance, vigilance for potential issues, and seeking professional help when needed are key to its efficient operation. At Maintain Drains, we are dedicated to providing expert, technology-driven services to ensure the optimal functioning of your septic system.

FAQs – How Does a Septic Tank Work?

Q: What is a septic tank and how does it work?

A: A septic tank is a wastewater treatment system that separates solids from liquids, using bacteria to break down waste. Effluent is then discharged into a drain field for further natural filtration.

Q: How often should a septic tank be inspected and pumped?

A: Septic tanks should be inspected every 1-3 years and pumped every 3-5 years, though this varies based on usage and size.

Q: Can I maintain my septic tank myself?

A: Basic care like water conservation and avoiding harmful substances can be done at home, but inspections and pumping require professional services.

Q: What are the signs of a failing septic tank?

A: Signs include slow drains, sewage backups, bad odours, overly green grass in the drain field area, and standing water.

Q: Are there any substances I should avoid putting into the septic system?

A: Avoid chemicals, paint, grease, non-biodegradable materials, and excessive household cleaners, as they disrupt the tank’s bacterial balance.

Q: What should I do if my septic tank overflows?

A: Immediately stop using water and contact a professional service like Maintain Drains to address the overflow and prevent health risks.

Q: How long does a septic tank last?

A: With proper maintenance, a septic tank can last several decades, although lifespan varies based on material, usage, and environment.

Q: Can landscaping affect my septic system?

A: Yes, avoid deep-rooted plants near the tank or drain field and ensure surface water is directed away from the septic area.

This site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. By browsing this website, you agree to our use of cookies.