What is a Septic Tank Filter? | How does a Septic Tank Filter work?

The septic tank filter is also known as an effluent filter. It is one of the most important parts of the septic tank. This article explains the septic tank filter working, replacement cost, and how to replace it.

What is a Septic Tank Filter?

A septic tank filter is a mechanical unit attached to the outlet baffle of a septic tank that helps to remove solid waste from liquid waste before it enters the leach field. The septic tank filter is also known as an effluent filter, sewage filter, or wastewater filter.

The main function of the septic tank filter is to protect the leach field pipes from clogging and permit cleaner, clearer waste to flow out of the tank.

septic tank filter
Septic Tank Filter 

The installation and proper maintenance of a sewage filter remove residues from septic tanks and reduce the risk of clogging and early failure of drainage areas.

Some conventional wastewater treatment systems don’t yet have a septic filter. However, filters have become an important operating part with the invention of septic systems. Also, this part is ideal for proper maintenance of septic tanks, and you can easily install it on existing tanks.

The proper repair and maintenance of the effluent filter are important for the proper operation of the septic system. The failed or clogged filters can generate many issues such as drainage pipes clogging, wastewater backflow, and slow discharge of the wastewater from the septic tank to the drain field.

Why Your Septic Tank Needs a Filter

All over the world, the septic system has become a vital need of each residential building. The proper operation of these systems is very important to avoid overflow and different hazardous issues.

Therefore, the proper maintenance, filters, and safety units are important for the proper operation of the septic system. The tank filter plays a big role in the proper operation of the septic tank system.

Sometimes you wash solid waste, worse, gravel, and hair into your septic system which may clog the pipelines that transfer waste from your tank to the leach field. For this reason, all septic systems must have an outlet filter.

The filter installs at the tank outlet to prevent anything other than residual liquid waste from entering the leach field or clogging the tank discharge pipes.

Read Also: Types and Working of Septic Tank

How to Clean Your Septic System Filter?

The proper cleaning of the effluent filter is very important for its proper operation. You should clean your septic tank filter at least every 3 to 5 years.

septic tank filter cleaning

Follow the below-given steps to clean your septic tank filter:

  • First of all, wear proper PPEs such as gloves, safety cloth, and shoes.
  • Remove the septic tank access lid. The access lid removing process is very easy if it is above the surface of the ground. If the septic tank lid is buried, you will first need to find it.
  • After removing the lid, you can proceed further and detach the different elements connected to the filter and remove the filter.
  • Place the filter over the first manway (because that’s where organic waste is preserved) so that any waste escaping from the filter can return to the tank. In case of filter drains into the wrong manway, the raw sewage may fall into the drainage area.
  • After removing the filter from the tank housing, use a water hose to spray the cartridge to eliminate any media that may have adhered to it.
  • Some types of filters have a floating switch alarm that goes off when the filter needs cleaning. If your tank filter also has an alarm, ensure its proper operation. To check it, lift the float switch to check the alarm sound.
  • Remove any solids remaining in the filters. Check the adjustment holes and vents to make sure that there is no trapped debris. If you find dirt, remove it by spraying it with a hose.
  • Now, reinstall the cartridge, secure it in the saddle holes, and wipe up any spillage around it.
  • Put the lid on the septic tank.
  • After the cleaning process, change your clothes immediately.

Why Septic Tank Filter maintenance is important?

You must replace your septic system filters at least once a year. The following are the major advantages of effluent filter replacement:

  • Increase the efficiency of your septic tank.
  • Prevent your system from an expensive repair and replacement.
  • Improve the service life of your septic system.
  • Protect your pipes from clogging.
  • Stop the occurrence of unexpected issues.
  • Prevent drain pipes from clogging.

Septic Filter Maintenance Tips

The septic tank filter cleaning and maintenance plays a big role in the proper working of the tank and reduces filter-related issues. Follow the below-given tips for your filter maintenance:

  1. The first rule to keep a septic system clean is to monitor what you drain into the tank.
  2. Do not flush non-biodegradable materials into the toilet and throw them into the trash.
  3. Don’t flush cigarette butts, cotton swabs, and baby wipes.
  4. You must pump your septic tank filter according to the recommended schedule. How often a tank needs to be pumped depends on the jurisdiction.
  5. Add biological additives into your tank. These additives help to keep the tank clean. The addition of these additives to the tank introduces millions of bacteria into the tank. These bacteria digest organic sewage in the tank.

Read Also: Working of Aerobic Septic System

Signs of a Bad Septic Tank Filter 

The following are the most common symptoms of a damaged or bad septic tank filter:

1) Clogged drainage pipes

The main function of the septic tank filters is to stop the entry of solid wastes into the drain field. If your drainage pipelines have been blocked, it is a symptom of a failed septic filter. In such a condition, you immediately inspect the system and contact a specialist to repair or replace the filet.

2) Slow discharge of the wastewater

If the wastewater discharge process from the septic system to the drain field is slower than normal, it may be due to damaged or clogged filters.

When you observe this problem, immediately remove the filter from the tank and clean it. After cleaning, reinstall the filter and check its proper working.

3) Gurgling noises at building sinks or tubs

If your sump pit generates gurgling noise, it is a sign of a failed or bad septic tank filter.

4) High effluent levels in the septic tank

Open the access lid of the septic tank and check the level of the wastewater. If the wastewater level is more than normal, it means your wastewater is not discharging properly into the drain field, and your filter has been clogged.

5) Drain field abnormally dry

In case of a clogged filter, sewage discharges unusually slowly from the tank to the drain field. Such slow drainage provides relief to the drain field, but it is abnormal.

If your filter is severely clogged, the sewage may leave the tank on the ground at one of its service lids or ports. In such conditions, sewage will not properly discharge into the drain field, and your drain field will be abnormally dry.

How to avoid damaging a drain field when cleaning the septic filter?

effluent filter

  1. Inspect the septic tank wastewater level: If the access lid of your septic tank is opened and you want to clean the septic tank filter, inspect the tank wastewater level before eliminating the filter screen or cartridge. If your tank has an abnormally high level of sewage (sludge, wastewater, slag), this specifies that drainage pipes have been clogged. In such conditions, clean the filter and also clear debris clogged in the drainage pipes.
  2. Don’t remove filters: You shouldn’t need to remove the filters if the wastewater level in the tank is more than normal. If you remove the filter in such a condition, additional grease, floating scum, solids, and sewage can flow into the drain area, clogging it and reducing its lifespan. If the sewage level in the tank is more than normal (overflowing the inlet or outlet baffle, or the tank is full to the top), it is recommended that you pump out the tank before detaching and cleaning the filters.
  3. Don’t send waste into the septic tank during its inspection and cleaning. In this way, waste will not go to the drain field, and it will prevent any damage or blockage.

Read Also: Working of Mound Septic System

Septic Tank Outlet Baffle Repair Cost

The average baffle repair cost varies from $290 to $1000.  You may need to pay high if your baffle has tough access.

Septic Tank Filter Replacement Cost

The septic tank filter repair or replacement cost varies according to the region where you and the contractor. The average septic tank filter replacement cost is from $210 to $320.

 The below-given list represents the costs of different septic tank parts:

Tank Repair$490-$11,000
Line Repair$1,000-$4,300
Leach Field Repair & Replacement$2,050-$21,000
Filter Replacement$210-$320
Pump Repair$240-$410
Add bacteria$390-$620

Advantages and Disadvantages of Septic Tank Filter

Advantages of Effluent Filter

  • The septic tank filters have affordable costs.
  • They stop the wastewater backflow from the drain field to the septic tank.
  • They prevent the drain pipelines from clogging issues.
  • The effluent filter stops the entry of the solid waste into the drain field.
  • They have easy installation and maintenance on the existing septic tanks.
  • They require very low maintenance.

Disadvantages of Effluent Filter

  • In case of failed or clogged septic tank filter, your tank can overflow.
  • It requires regular maintenance for proper operation.
  • In case of a damaged filter, it may clog the wastewater discharge pipelines.

FAQ Section

What is the function of the Septic tank filter?

The filter plays a big role in the septic system. The main function of the septic tank filter is to separate the solid waste from the liquid waste and stop the solid waste entry into the drain field. In this way, it prevents the wastewater discharge pipes from clogging.

Do you need to install a septic tank filter?

It depends on the type of septic tank and when it was manufactured. The latest tanks contain filters, but old generations don’t have filters. A filter prevents your system from many severe problems. Therefore, you must buy a septic system that has septic filters.

Do I need to clean my septic tank filter?

The septic system filters are installed to avoid solid entry into the drain field and ensure easy drainage of the liquid wastewater. In this way, the filters lower the clogging risk. The proper cleaning of the filter is very important for its proper working. It only works if it’s clean. However, if your system has a filter, you need to clean it. You must clean your effluent filter every 3 to 5 years

What are the sympthoms of a bad Effluent filter?

  1. High effluent levels in the septic tank
  2. Clogged drainage pipes
  3. The drain field is abnormally dry
  4. Gurgling noises at building sinks or tubs
  5. Slow discharge of the wastewater
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