Your septic tank may seem like a simple system at first glance; it separates liquids and solids, then holds the solids in a tank until they can be pumped out and sends the liquids to a distribution field. But these processes can actually be a bit more complicated than they sound.
The tank, even if you have the simplest, most standard type, has parts that may need to be replaced from time to time, such as the inlet and outlet baffles and the baffle filter (also called effluent filter). Here's the basics about what septic baffles are and how they work.
Septic Baffle Functions
Septic baffles are located at the junctions where pipes enter and exit the tank. The one at the inlet pipe is called the inlet baffle, and the one at the outlet is called the outlet baffle.
The outlet baffle is often considered to be the most important baffle, because it keeps solids from exiting the tank and making their way to the leach field, where they could clog up and effectively destroy the leach field system. This is quite serious because the leach field tends to cost a lot of money to replace. Unfortunately, this baffle is also the first to crumble.
The inlet baffle is situated at the junction between the septic tank and the main sewer line leading from the house. It's designed to help wastewater flow smoothly into the tank without disturbing the scum layer. It also guides wastewater in a longer path across the septic tank (down, then across, then up) so it has more time to separate than if it just flowed straight across.
Septic Baffle Materials
Some septic baffles are made of concrete, and others, especially newer models, are made of plastic such as ABS. Plastic tends to last longer than concrete, especially at the outlet side, so if you're having a baffle replaced, your contractor might recommend that you choose a plastic one.
The outlet baffle often has an effluent filter placed inside it to make it even more effective at keeping solids out of the leach field. If yours doesn't have an effluent filter, you could have your septic contractor install one. The effluent filter will then need to be replaced on a regular basis, but that's an excellent trade-off for not needing to replace your leach field instead.
Septic Baffle Malfunctions
Concrete baffles, especially the outlet baffles, tend to crumble after a certain number of years because of the long exposure to the corrosive gases that accumulate within the tank. If your tank has concrete baffles, you'll want to have them checked for soundness each time your tank is pumped out.
If your baffle collapses a few months after a pumping, you'll need to pay for an additional pumping because the baffle should only be replaced when the tank is empty.
Other baffle problems include clogged outlet baffles or outlet baffle filters, leaks around the baffle-totank join, and inlet baffle blockages. These blockages can happen when wipes or solids are flushed down the toilet or if the inlet pipe is installed incorrectly. Baffle blockages can also occur when tree roots come in through the inlet pipe or around the baffle.
These basics will help you understand why your septic tank's baffles are important, how they help process your wastewater on a daily basis, and why you'll need to call a septic repair contractor if something goes wrong.
For any baffle repairs or replacements, filter installations, or baffle malfunction diagnoses, call for the experienced personnel at Pete's Outflow Technicians. We're available to help with septic repairs, pumping, and other maintenance, and even septic inspections when you're buying or selling a house.