• BARR Plastics Admin

How a Septic Tank Works


Picture of GRAF septic tank, sold by BARR Plastics.

If you have recently moved out to a more rural area from the city, chances are this is the first time you've dealt with a septic tank.


Septic tanks are critical to ensure your house's wastewater is properly stored, treated, and released into the ground. Today we'll be going over how a septic tank works, and how to maintain it.


What is a Septic Tank?


A septic tank is generally a water-tight container made from most commonly: Concrete, Fiberglass, or Polyethylene. Its main functions are to store wastewater coming from the inlet pipes connected to the home and release partially treated water into a drain field.


How does a Septic Tank Work?


When wastewater enters the tank, specific internal design slows the wastewater down, and only let small amounts of water out at a time.


This holding feature gives the solids in the wastewater time to sink to the bottom creating sludge. Grease and oils (scum) float to the top during this process leaving the wastewater in the middle.


Anaerobic bacteria present within the tank breaks down some of the left-over sludge. This bacterium alone, is not enough to ensure there is no solids making into the drain field. Solids in the drain field can cause blockages, and the tank can be backed up. Therefore, regular pumping of the tank is required. Consult a professional on how often you should have your tank pumped.


The T-shape internal design of the septic tank allow for the wastewater to pass through, leaving grease and scum behind. Most commonly, there is a second chamber inside the septic tank for the process to happen twice, before being picked up by an effluent filter if one is installed or being let out an outlet pipe.


The wastewater is considered to be partially treated (effluent) at this point and is slowly let out to a drain field where it will percolate into the soil and slowly discharge into groundwater.


Easy ways to maintain a Septic Tank:


Replacing a septic tank before its service life ends can be an unexpected blow to your bank account. Not only would you have to dig up and replace your septic tank, but there also may be additional costs and fees for cleaning up leaked sewage. Not to mention your plumbing not being functional during the time of repairs/replacements.


To ensure your septic tank is fully functional and lives its full-service life, here are some easy tips you can use:

  • Do not flush anything non-biodegradable down the drain

Anything that will not biodegrade will sit at the bottom of your septic tank, reducing the time in between pump services and increasing the chance of a blockage.

  • Effluent Filters

If you are purchasing a brand-new septic tank, an easy way to avoid costly repairs is to purchase one with an effluent filter. Effluent filters will prevent any solids from making it to the drain field. These filters need cleaning every 8-12 months, consult your manual for proper cleaning procedures.

  • Inspections

It is a good idea to bring in a professional to inspect your septic tank. Frequency will heavily depend on the type of septic system, the number of users and the size of the system. Normal inspection periods are every 3-5 years. If you have a garbage disposal unit installed, every once per year is recommended.


Inspections can catch issues early on such as potential blockages or system deterioration. Without proper inspections issues that are not obvious can create huge problems such as system backups and can potentially pose a threat to drinking water sources.

  • Pumping

Regular pumping is key to making sure your septic tank does not overflow or potentially back-up into your house. Frequency depends on size of the tank and amount of solids entering the tank. The best time for pumping is in the summer, the warm weather gives bacteria inside the tank the best environment to re-establish itself before the cold season.


There are many more ways to ensure your septic tank stays fully functional throughout its entire service life. Overall, pumping is the most sure-fire way to prevent any back up problems and inspections can give great insight into the health of your septic tank.


Buying/Replacing a Septic Tank


At BARR, we pride ourselves in providing as close to a one-stop-shop for septic tank needs. From the tanks themselves, to alarm boxes, effluent pumps, accessories and more. For our full line-up of septic system products. click below:

If you are looking to replace your septic tank with a brand new one, rest assured BARR Plastics provides both standard polyethylene/fibreglass tanks and more advanced residential wastewater treatment systems.


Our heavy-duty low profile septic tanks are perfect for residential use. They are rotationally molded, meaning you won't have any seams on the tank that can be a point of weakness, and can potentially leak. for more information click below.

Picture of Heavy Duty low-profile septic tank, sold by BARR Plastics.

And lastly, for those wanting an advanced residential or commercial wastewater system, we offer products from GRAF out of Europe, that are low maintenance, easy to assemble and extremely modular for other applications. You can see our wastewater treatment systems lineup here:

Picture of GRAF two septic tanks, sold by BARR Plastics.








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