Septic tanks in your rental home can be a little intimidating until you understand them, how they work, and how AWESOME they are for our environment. If you are sure there is a septic tank located at your rental home, and your landlord hasn't provided you with any information on it, where it's located or how to keep it running good... shame on them! But it's definitely to your benefit to learn about it. Why? Your landlord may not have provided you with good information, but you could still be responsible for repair costs or "pump outs" if they believe you caused the issues directly as a result of misuse or negligence.
It's a natural system that works through natural bacteria and other elements to collect, breakdown and dispose of waste/wastewater. The system is constructed in a large area of space below the surface of a yard that is dedicated to collecting, breaking down and disposing of any water and waste that is either drained from the sinks, bathtubs, toilets or showers within the property. NATURALLY! These systems work ENTIRELY with nature, are incredibly eco-friendly and AWESOME for the environment.
There are several components to the system. The large part is the drain field. This won't be visible, because it's located under the ground. It could span a space 10' x 20 to 15' x 30 or more (think size of a small swimming pool). It could be in the front yard or the back. In addition to the drain field, somewhere on the property (may not be close to the drain field) is the pump out access. This is a large hole that is covered by a heavy metal manhole. IF or when the septic tank gets full, it may be necessary to have a septic tank company come out to drain the system. They have a truck and a large vacuum-type device they hook up through that pump out access, and pump out everything. Also, there is normally one or two strainers. These are the front lines for the whole system, where anything that shouldn't go down the into the drain field is caught.
For instance, we know of a case where a tenant continually flushed feminine products down her toilet. And complained when her bathtub wouldn't drain properly. When the landlord went to check the strainer, he found gobs of nastiness including those products. No, they don't disintegrate well and they are easily identifiable. She was held responsible for the emergency pump out cost of $350. Depending on the city, state, area... companies typically charge from $250- $400 for pump-outs for average sized septic tank systems.
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