How Do Septic Tank Systems Work?

The grass is always greener around a septic tank. We’re talking a healthy green, not “radioactive mutant-Hulk monster” green.

The main job of a septic tank is to clean dirty household water that comes from bathrooms, laundry rooms, and other areas of your home. This water is then filtered into the area around it where it is fully cleaned. Septic tank systems work by using:

  • Gravity to move wastewater
  • A holding tank for the wastewater
  • Anaerobic bacteria inside the tank
  • Drain fields
  • Aerobic bacteria outside the tank

Let’s look at the 7 actual steps for how septic tank systems work. The video below shows how the process works and the steps are written out below it.

You can learn more by reading our guide to septic tanks for Hawai’i >>

The 7 Steps For How Septic Tank Systems Work

  1. Wastewater flows from the house into the septic tank
  2. Anaerobic bacteria living inside it start breaking down some of the waste
  3. Solid waste (inorganic material) sinks and liquid waste (oils, fats, grease) rises
  4. The wastewater seeps into the drain field*
  5. This wastewater is further treated by aerobic bacteria
  6. The now clean water drains into groundwater
  7. Once the septic tank is full, call a contractor to come pump out the waste

*A drain field is an area near the tank made from pipes with holes in them buried in gravel, which is then covered with dirt and grass.

Septic tank in a hole in the ground

Knowing How Your Septic System Works

Knowing how a septic tanks system works is crucial. Not knowing can lead to it breaking down and causing major problems for your home. Now that you know how they work, you may feel safer about getting a septic tank for your Hawaiian home.

You can learn about our septic tank installation >>