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Septic Tanks and Cistern Tanks – What’s the Difference?

Home Blog Septic Tanks and Cistern Tanks – What’s the Difference?

Septic tanks and cistern tanks are both types of wastewater storage systems, but they serve different functions and are used in different contexts.

Septic tanks are commonly used in residential and commercial properties for the treatment and disposal of wastewater, while cistern tanks are primarily used for collecting and storing rainwater. There are many key differences between septic tanks and cistern tanks, including their functions, importance, and servicing requirements.

To know which tank will work best for your situation, it’s important to understand what makes them different and how they can benefit you.

How do Septic Tanks Function?

Septic tanks are an integral part of wastewater management systems in areas without access to municipal sewer lines. They are typically buried underground and receive wastewater from toilets, sinks, showers, and any other sources.

The septic tank’s primary function is to separate solids, such as sludge and scum, from the liquid portion of the wastewater. The liquid portion, known as effluent, is then discharged into the drain field or leach field, where it undergoes further treatment through natural processes in the soil before returning to the groundwater.

Importance of Septic Tanks Every Day

Septic tanks are crucial for properties that are not connected to a public sewer system, such as rural homes and businesses. They provide an on-site means of treating and disposing of wastewater, ensuring that it does not contaminate the environment or pose a health risk.

Properly functioning septic tanks prevent the release of harmful bacteria, viruses, and pollutants into the soil, water bodies, and groundwater, thus protecting public health and the environment.

Septic tanks also help in conserving water by recycling treated effluent back into the groundwater, reducing the strain on water resources.

Professional Servicing of Septic Tanks

Septic tanks require regular maintenance and servicing to ensure efficient and effective operation.

The frequency of servicing depends on various factors, including tank size, water usage, and the number of occupants on the property. Generally, septic tanks should be inspected by a professional every one to three years and pumped out every three to five years, although this may vary based on local regulations and conditions. It’s important to keep track of when your septic tank has been serviced to avoid the chance of dangerous build-ups and blockages.

During servicing, the septic tank is inspected for signs of damage, such as cracks or leaks, and the sludge and scum layers are measured. If these layers exceed recommended levels, the tank needs to be pumped out to remove the accumulated solids.

It is important to note that only licensed professionals should perform septic tank servicing, as mishandling or improper maintenance can lead to system failure, environmental pollution, and costly repairs.

The function of Cistern Tanks

On the other hand, cistern tanks are designed to collect and store rainwater for non-potable uses, such as irrigation, toilet flushing, and laundry. Cistern tanks can be installed above ground or underground, depending on the property’s requirements and available space.

Rainwater collected from rooftops is directed to the cistern tank through gutters and downspouts, where it is stored until needed for various purposes.

Why is Cistern Tanks Important?

Cistern tanks play a vital role in sustainable water management by capturing and storing natural rainwater for reuse, thus reducing your reliance on freshwater sources for non-potable applications. This helps to conserve water, especially in areas with limited water availability or during drought conditions.

By directing and storing rainwater, cistern tanks can help reduce stormwater runoff, which can cause erosion, flooding, and pollution of water bodies by reducing the volume of water flowing off the property.

Servicing of Cistern Tanks

Cistern tanks require periodic maintenance to ensure the proper functioning and to prevent water quality issues. While the water they store is not for human consumption, it can cause environmental damage if not properly contained and treated.

As with septic tanks, the frequency of servicing depends on factors such as tank size, water usage, and local climate conditions. Generally, cistern tanks should be inspected and serviced at least once a year, although more frequent inspections may be required in areas with heavy rainfall or high levels of debris.

During servicing, cistern tanks are inspected for signs of damage, such as cracks, leaks, or corrosion. Inlet screens and filters, if present, are checked for clogs and are cleaned, as needed.

The tank is also checked for adequate water levels and proper functioning of any pumps, valves, or controls associated with the system. If any issues are detected, they are addressed promptly to ensure the continued functionality of the cistern tank.

One critical aspect of cistern tank servicing is water quality testing. The stored rainwater should be periodically tested for parameters such as pH, turbidity, bacteria, and other contaminants to ensure that the water is safe for its intended uses. If any water quality issues are identified, appropriate measures such as filtration, disinfection, or treatment may be required to maintain water quality standards.

It is essential to note that proper maintenance of cistern tanks is crucial to prevent contamination of stored rainwater. Regular inspections and servicing help to identify and address any issues that may affect water quality, ensuring that the collected rainwater remains safe for its intended uses.

While septic tanks and cistern tanks may share some similarities, as they are both water storage systems, they serve distinct functions and require different servicing protocols. Septic tanks are designed for the treatment and disposal of wastewater, while cistern tanks are used for collecting and storing rainwater for non-potable uses.

Septic tanks are critical for properties without access to municipal sewer lines, while cistern tanks play a crucial role in sustainable water management by conserving freshwater resources.

Proper servicing, performed by licensed professionals (https://draneranger.com/services/septic-tank/), is essential for both types of tanks to ensure their efficient and effective operation. Regular service also prevents any potential environmental or health hazards.

Regular inspections, maintenance, and water quality testing are vital for septic tanks and cistern tanks to function optimally and fulfill their respective roles in wastewater management and water conservation. With proper servicing and use, both types of tanks can protect the environment and support the lives of the people around them.

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