What is a Septic Tank Filter?

Erin J. Hill

Most septic tanks are comprised of three separate compartments. The last of these is the septic tank filter. Many homeowners are not even aware that their tank has a filter, because it often goes unnoticed. As one would expect, the septic tank filter works by having water run through it, filtering out certain particles or debris. This acts as a pretreatment before water treatment facilities finish the job.

The septic tank filer is one of three septic tank compartments.
The septic tank filer is one of three septic tank compartments.

Generally, a septic tank filter is made from broken granite, limestone, crushed glass, or other small materials that water can sift through. The filter must be large enough to allow water to pass through slowly, while still being small enough to trap waste and deposits in the materials.Proper maintenance is key to keeping any septic system running smoothly.

The septic tank filter is the third component of a home septic tank.
The septic tank filter is the third component of a home septic tank.

The filtration sheet itself is the first line of defense in the purification and reuse of water that is drained into the sewage system. Unlike with a city sewer, a septic tank does not go directly from the home to a treatment plant. Septic tank water may run into a dumping area, river, stream, or other nearby area. For this reason, it is vitally important for the septic tank filter to be working properly, in order to prevent excessive contamination of the surrounding area.

There are a number of factors that could cause a septic tank filter to stop working properly. Rainwater can wash debris and pollutants into the system and cause all filtration processes to shut down. Faulty pipes are another common problem which can cause issues by allowing too much debris to flow through the filter. Each of these issues will generally need to be taken care of by a licensed professional.

Having a septic tank filter repaired is often an expensive undertaking. In many cases, where there is one problem, there are multiple problems. Often the entire tank will need to be emptied, parts will need to be repaired or replaced, and the filter itself can either be cleaned and reused or replaced by a new one. The filter is the most important component of providing consistently clean water, and is therefore important to keep in working order.

Proper maintenance is advised for all septic systems. There are many ways to go about doing this, with different methods being used for old and new systems. Both types of septic tank would benefit from commercial cleaning products, as well as regular inspections and cleanings.

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