What Is The Scum Layer In A Septic Tank? (Solved)

The septic tank is a watertight vault in which the purification process begins. In the tank, density differences automatically separates the sewage into three layers. The topmost layer is called “scum”. Scum is composed of materials that float on water such as grease, oil, and fats.


  • What is a Septic Tank Crust or Scum Layer? On the septic tank surface is a light layer that will normally (and should) float to the top. This tends to contain some fats, oils and greases, and it’s generally a pretty clear greeny, greyish even brown bubbly liquid.

How do you stop a scum layer on a septic tank?

How to Reduce Sludge in a Septic Tank Without Pumping

  1. Install an aeration system with diffused air in your septic tank.
  2. Break up any compacted sludge.
  3. Add a bio-activator or microbe blend.
  4. Maintain the aeration system.
  5. Add additional Microbes as required.

How much scum is normal in a septic tank?

“Generally at a two year interval for septic tank pumping service the average septic tank in these size ranges will have a 400 mm scum layer with about a 200 mm sludge layer. With an average depth of 1600 mm, the solids content is about 600 mm thereby reducing the settling time by nearly 40%.

How is the sludge layer cleaned out of the septic tank?

The floating scum layer and settled sludge layer accumulate in the septic tank until the tank is pumped / emptied by the septic pumping contractor. In turn, the septic pumping company then hauls the septage to an approved disposal site, most-often to a waste treatment plant.

What are the 3 layers in a septic tank?

The contents of the septic tank stratify into three layers: • Floating Scum Layer – soaps, greases, toilet paper, etc. Liquid layer – water, other liquids, and suspended solids • Sludge – heavy organic and inorganic materials settle to the bottom of the tank.

What does scum in septic look like?

Scum: Substances lighter than water (oil, grease, fats) float to the top, where they form a scum layer. This scum layer floats on top of the water surface in the tank. Aerobic bacteria work at digesting floating solids.

What are the signs that septic tank is full?

Here are some of the most common warning signs that you have a full septic tank:

  • Your Drains Are Taking Forever.
  • Standing Water Over Your Septic Tank.
  • Bad Smells Coming From Your Yard.
  • You Hear Gurgling Water.
  • You Have A Sewage Backup.
  • How often should you empty your septic tank?

How do I check the sludge in my septic tank?

To measure the sludge layer:

  1. Slowly lower the tube into the septic tank until it touches the bottom of the tank.
  2. As the device is slowly pulled out of the water, the check valve closes capturing a liquid/solid profile of the septic tank water. The thickness of the sludge layer can be measured.

How thick should scum layer be?

A scum layer should be present, although depending on practices within the home or facility it may be a thin zone of an inch or less, or could be thicker. Items to evaluate are discussed below. 1.

What happens to scum in a septic tank?

Through the normal metabolic activities of these resident bacteria, liquification of the scum and sludge layers occur. In other words, when operating properly bacteria cause organic materials from both the sludge and scum layers to be broken down into smaller sized substances.

How thick should the sludge layer be in a septic tank?

Septic tanks need to be pumped out when the sludge layer exceeds 24 inches in depth or when the bottom of the scum layer is less than 3 inches above the Page 2 lower end of the submerged outlet. If you cannot locate the submerged outlet, clean the tank if the scum layer is more than 12 inches thick.

What eats sludge in septic tank?

One example of a homemade remedy is to flush ¼-½ a cup of instant yeast down your toilet. The yeast eats away at the sludge and helps loosen it, breaking it down so that wastewater can get through.

How often does a 1000 gallon septic tank need to be pumped?

For example, a 1,000 gallon septic tank, which is used by two people, should be pumped every 5.9 years. If there are eight people using a 1,000-gallon septic tank, it should be pumped every year.

What floats on top of septic tank?

Heavy solids, such as dirt and digested waste, will sink to the bottom of the tank to form the sludge layer. Meanwhile, solids that are lighter than water, such as grease, hair, and toilet paper, will float to the top to form the scum layer.

What is the top layer in a septic tank?

Scum – The top layer of the septic system is made up of scum. This comes from things like soap byproducts and cooking oils which go to the top of the wastewater tank. Sludge – The bottom layer of your septic system is made up of a material called sludge.

What is septic sludge?

Septic sludge is normal for any septic tank. The aerobic bacteria aren’t able to decompose every solid waste that enters the system. This leads to layers of sludge on the tank floor. As time progresses, the sludge layer will continue to get deeper and deeper until it eventually overflows.

What Are the Septic Tank Layers? – Septic Maxx

Millions of people in the United States still have septic tank systems linked to their residences. Do you understand how your septic system works, despite the fact that they are so common? Despite the fact that you may not be employed in the septic system sector, it is critical that you grasp the primary components of your septic system as well as its fundamental operations. Even a rudimentary grasp of how your wastewater system works may help you keep repairs to a minimum and extend the life of your wastewater system.

Scum, sludge, and effluent are the three layers of wastewater that make up your septic tank: scum, sludge, and effluent.

Spillage: Spillage is the solid material that accumulates at the bottom of your septic tank, forming an unsightly coating on top of the water.

Anaerobic bacteria that grow at the bottom of your tank and feed off of the sludge layer can be found in the tank bottom.

  • Scum is a term used to describe a collection of material found in a septic tank that are lighter than water.
  • Most of the floating solid waste items float to the surface of the water, where aerobic bacteria begin to work, digesting the bulk of the floating solid waste materials.
  • A large portion of the liquid in your septic tank is composed of this substance.
  • In order for your septic system to work effectively, these layers must remain balanced and maintain an appropriate retention duration throughout time.
  • In order for your tank to function effectively, it must have a minimum retention time of twenty-four hours.
  • In most cases, clogged drainfields are the most prevalent reason for a sewage treatment system to fail.
  • It is completely natural and has been particularly formulated to assist in replenishing the beneficial bacteria and protease in your tank in order to guarantee adequate drainage into your drainfields.

Please contact us soon at 800-397-2384 to take advantage of our free trial offer. We have a team of expert septic tank technicians available to assist you with any septic tank problems.

Should You be Concerned if a Septic System has No Scum Layer?

Get articles, news, and videos about Onsite Systems delivered directly to your email! Now is the time to sign up. Plus, there are Onsite Systems. Receive Notifications Septic tanks allow gravity to separate materials from wastewater because heavier particles settle while fats, grease, and other lighter solids float, allowing heavier solids to be removed from the wastewater. Particles removal in a septic tank is often thought of as occurring predominantly through settling, although separation of suspended solids by flotation is also extremely significant in the tank’s operation.

  1. The presence of fats, oils, and grease in the wastewater helps to improve the flotation process because they congeal on the surfaces of tiny particles, making them more buoyant and floatable in the water.
  2. After six months or more of usage, septic tanks should have established three layers: a scum layer on the surface, a cleared effluent layer in the center that is free of big particles, and a sludge layer at the bottom of the tank.
  3. A scum layer should be present, albeit it may be a thin zone of an inch or less in thickness, or it may be a bigger coating depending on the methods used within the house or facility.
  4. 1.
  5. The effluent baffle’s aim is to ensure that the scum layer remains in the septic tank and should be replaced as soon as possible if it has been removed or has become inefficient.
  6. The design detention period for a septic tank should be lengthy enough to allow for appropriate suspended particles and oil/grease removal by sedimentation and flotation.
  7. Third, there should be little to no turbulence in the septic tank in order to allow settleable particles to build at the bottom and floatable solids to accumulate at the top.


In little, typical doses, they should not be an issue, but when used excessively, additives such as powerful phosphate-based cleansers, fabric softeners, and degreasers can have an adverse effect on scum development and cause it to build more quickly.

In addition, greater water temperatures and higher water flow rates aid in the mechanical emulsification of lubricating oils.

The influence of the microbial community – A healthy microbial community is required for the septic tank to function correctly.

This covers any product found in a house that has the ability to destroy microorganisms.

Ideally, the pH level should be in the range of 6-8, which is close to the pH of tap water.

Low pH levels are caused by acidic substances such as cleansers or furnace condensate, whilst high pH values are generated by basic substances such as basic cleaners or other chemicals.


This has been observed when regeneration water from water softeners enters septic tanks.

It may be possible to help by routing the recharge out of the system or by replacing outdated units that require much more salt.

When there is no scum layer, you should collaborate with the property owner to identify the potential causes of the problem and take steps to correct them in order to extend the life of downstream components.

She has presented at several local and national training events on topics such as the design, installation, and administration of septic systems, as well as research in the related field.

Email [email protected] with any questions on septic system design, installation, maintenance, and operation and Heger will respond as soon as possible!

Wastewater and the Septic System

What is a septic tank, and how does it work? All waste from toilets, showers, sinks, and washing machines is sent to a septic tank, which is connected to a septic system for the remaining 20% of American houses and institutions that do not have sewer connections. In the first treatment of wastewater by capturing particles and settleable organic matter before dumping of the wastewater (effluent) to the drainfield, a septic tank is a large-volume, waterproof tank. Construction and operation of the septic tank are relatively straightforward; nonetheless, via the intricate interplay of physical and biological processes, the tank serves a variety of vital purposes.

  1. The following are the most important functions of a septic tank: Take care of all of the wastewater generated by the residence or institution.
  2. Reduce the amount of solids that have collected and allow them to decompose.
  3. This reasonably calm body of water allows the wastewater to be kept for a long enough period of time to allow the particles to separate through a combination of settling and flotation processes.
  4. Scum: Substances that are lighter in weight than water (oil, grease, and fats) float to the surface of the water and produce a scum layer.
  5. Aerobic bacteria are actively engaged in the digestion of floating particles.
  6. Because sludge is denser than water and fluid in nature, it settles to the bottom of the tank in a thin, flat layer.
  7. As the bacteria die, they decompose and become part of the sludge.
  8. It is the clear liquid that exists between the scum and the sludge layers.
  9. The floating scum layer on top of the tank and the sludge layer at the bottom of the tank each take up a specific proportion of the total volume of the tank’s total volume of water.
  10. As the wastewater rests in the tank, the active solids separation takes place, resulting in cleaner wastewater.
  11. In order for effective separation of solids to occur, the wastewater must be allowed to rest for an extended period of time in the tank’s quiescent conditions.
See also:  Where To Buy A Septic Tank In Wv? (Question)

A relationship exists between effective volume and daily wastewater flow rate, and this relationship may be expressed as In this equation, retention time (days) equals effective volume (gallons) divided by flow rate (gallons per day) Sludge and scum storage require a minimum retention duration of at least 24 hours, during which half to two thirds of the tank capacity is consumed by sludge and scum storage, according to standard design rules for holding tanks.

  • Please keep in mind that this is a bare minimum retention duration under the conditions of a large accumulation of solids in the tank.
  • As sludge and scum collect and take up more space in the tank, the effective capacity of the tank steadily decreases, resulting in a shorter retention time.
  • In addition to clogged pipes and gravel in the drainfield, which is one of the most prevalent reasons of septic system failure, pathogenic bacteria and dissolved organic pollutants can develop as a result of this practice.
  • A common design rule is that one-half to two-thirds of the tank capacity should be set aside for sludge and scum collection, depending on the size of the tank.
  • In practice, however, the pace of solids collection varies significantly from one situation to another, and the real storage duration can only be established by periodic septic tank inspections.
  • While new solids are continuously being added to the scum and sludge layers, anaerobic bacteria (bacteria that do not require oxygen to survive) are consuming the organic material in the solids, allowing the process to continue.
  • Anaerobic decomposition causes a gradual reduction in the amount of collected solids in the septic tank as a result of the process.

Compaction of the older, underlying sludge also contributes to the reduction in the volume of the sludge layer.

Using EnviroZyme’sConcentrated Grease Control 10XandSeptic Treatmentproducts can help prevent non-clarified wastewater from running through an outlet that does not have adequate effective volume and/or retention time.

This successfully minimizes the number of layers in a septic tank as well as the frequency with which it must be pumped out.

The results were interesting.

This was due to the fact that natural wastewater already contains bacteria, and these bacteria gradually regained dominance in the biomass.

(Click on image to expand) In addition, we measured the carbonaceous biochemical oxygen demand (cBOD) in the clear liquid component of each tank, which was approximately 10 inches below the surface of the liquid.

This implies that, once cleaned, the effluent from a septic tank will help to limit the quantity of dissolved organic pollutants that enters the surrounding environment.

(Click on image to expand) Are you interested in learning more about how our microbes can be of assistance? Fill out the customer care formhere or call 1-800-232-2847 to get in touch with a representative.

What are the Septic Tank Layers?

Sludge, effluent, and scum are the three layers of wastewater that make up your septic tank: sludge, effluent, and scum. You will have a perfectly functioning septic system when each of these wastewater layers is correctly balanced. As a homeowner, you should become familiar with the indications that indicate when the sludge layer has become overburdened and when your septic tank needs to be drained.

What Are The Three Layers of Wastewater?

  1. Scum is the substance that makes up the top layer of the septic system. When items like soap byproducts and cooking oils reach the top of the wastewater tank, they create this scum. Effluent is the wastewater that remains in the intermediate layer of the septic tank after the scum has risen to the top of the tank and the sludge has sunk to the bottom of the tank, which is known as the effluent layer. In certain cases, it may contain minute particles of waste items. When your septic system is operating properly, the effluent/water is released into the drain field from the tank
  2. However, this is not always the case. In your septic system, sludge makes up the lowest layer, which is made up of a substance known as sludge. In your septic tank, sludge is made up of byproducts of the breakdown of various waste materials that have been disposed of in the tank. Heavy items that sink to the bottom of the septic tank become a part of the sludge as a result.

Pumping the sludge out of your tank on a regular basis is essential for keeping your septic system in excellent operating order. Find out how often you should pump your septic tank by reading this article. The Septic Medic team may be contacted online or by phone at 570-828-7444 to book routine septic maintenance or a routine tank pumping for homeowners in Pike County, Pennsylvania, including Delaware Township and the surrounding suburbs of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Septic Emergency? Contact us immediately at570-828-7444

Services Provided by Septic Medics:

  • Septic System Pumping and Tank Cleaning
  • Repair of a Clogged Drainor Septic System Back Up
  • Septic System Maintenance for Tanks
  • Septic System Pumping and Tank Cleaning Leach Fields
  • Septic Tank Repair or Replacement
  • Septic Tank Maintenance

Septic Tank Problems, Part One: A Healthy Septic Tank

“I have no idea why I’m having septic tank troubles; I’ve never even had to pump my tank before,” a common complaint among homeowners. as though this was evidence that their septic system had been functioning well before abruptly failing. However, keep in mind that most failed septic systems have been in problems for one or more decades before the first indicators of trouble show up.

How a Septic Tank Works

Everything that goes down the pipes in your home (toilets, showers, sinks, washing machines, water softener, etc.) ends up in your septic tank, which is located underground. The septic tank is a large-volume, almost often waterproof tank that serves as the first stage of treatment for residential wastewater, capturing solids and settleable organic matter before discharging the wastewater (effluent) into a drain field or other drainage system.

A Healthy Septic Tank

In the first instance, we will examine a septic tank that is free of problems:

  1. Scum: Substances that are lighter in weight than water (oil, grease, and fats) float to the surface of the water and produce a scum layer. In the tank, this scum layer floats on top of the water’s surface and collects bacteria. Aerobic bacteria are involved in the digestion of floating particles. Effluent is the cleared wastewater that remains after the scum has risen to the surface and the sludge has sunk to the bottom of a wastewater treatment plant. It is the clear liquid that exists between the scum and the sludge layers. It exits the septic tank and enters the drainfield
  2. It is a natural occurrence. A layer of sludge is formed at the bottom of the tank as the “sinkable” materials (dirt, grit, bones, and unconsumed food particles) settle to the bottom of the tank. Because sludge is denser than water and fluid in nature, it settles to the bottom of the tank in a thin, flat layer. Underwater anaerobic bacteria devour organic components in the sludge, emitting gases as they do so, and eventually die and become a part of the sludge as they die off.

Read the Other Blogs in This Series:

Troubleshooting Septic Tank Issues, Part Two: The Issues Begin Troubleshooting Septic Tank Issues, Part Three: Drainfield Issues

Inspecting Your Septic Tank

Firstuncover and remove the first manhole cover. Some systems have”risers”that make this job easier by bringing the tank lids up to the ground surface. (We encourage you to have risersinstalled so you won’t need to dig down each time you inspect.)The diagram at left shows the top of the two most common septic tank configurations. The upper figure is found onnewer tanks and the bottom one is usually found on older septic tanks. In most cases, the hole to the left is thefirst compartment, the hole to the right is the second compartment, and the rectangular cover is to the crossoverbaffle. (Some tanks, 25 years or older, may have only one compartment that is round, oval, or square.)This procedure determines the thickness of the scum level(SC).
  1. In order to make the scum stick, One of the PVC pipes was cut down to 6 feet from its original length of 10 feet. Glue a 90-degree elbow on one of the ends. Create an elbow out of a 6-inch piece of PVC tubing and glue it in place. End caps should be placed on the open ends. Place a board or a stick over the top of the hole, manhole, or riser to prevent water from leaking in. As shown in Figure 1, lower the scum stick down the manhole of the first compartment of the tank until it rests on the top of the scum layer (see Figure 1below), and mark the scum stick where it passes the reference point (A). Work the stick through the scum layer, starting at the elbow end and working your way down. Continue pushing straight through the scum layer, turning the stick 90 degrees, and pulling up on the stick until you feel the bottom of the scum layer. Note where the scum stick crosses the reference point (B) with a marker. Removing the scum stick and measuring the distance between the two markings will get the following results. This is the measurement of the thickness of the scum layer (SC).

Figure 1: To expand the diagram, click on it. This process determines the thickness of the sludge layer on the bottom of the pond (SL).

  1. To create the sludge stick, cut the remaining 10-foot PVC pipe into two parts of 5-foot length. Each stick should have an adaptor attached to it. Insert the coupler into one of the adapters by screwing it in. To build a 10-foot stick, connect the two parts together. Wrap a white cloth or an old towel around the bottom of the stick so that it is tightly wrapped. It should be secured with tape or string. Create a hole in the scum It is not acceptable to smear the sludge stick with scum. Stick carefully through hole in scum layer in first compartment until it rests on top of the liquid layer, then remove stick from compartment. Figure 1 shows how to mark the location of the stick when it passes the aperture of the manhole or riser. Reduce the length of the stick until it reaches the bottom of the tank. Keep the stick in the tank for at least five minutes to allow sludge particles to attach to the towel
  2. Otherwise, remove it. The sludge stick should be marked where it crosses the board (Din Figure 1). Work your way carefully away from the stick until you reach the distance between the two markers (CandD). This distance represents the working depth of the tank (WD). On the rag, there should be a visible black stain left by the liquid. Take a measurement of the stain’s height. Sludge layer (SL) depth is measured in millimeters.

Remove the covers from the inlet, outlet, and crossoverbaffles on the ducting system. Examine the baffles to confirm that they are still present and that they are not significantly rusted. Venting holes should be present and unobstructed if the baffles are made of concrete and are molded into the rest of the tank’s structure.

  • Ensure that the intake baffle is unobstructed and that the pipe is properly sealed to the tank
  • Ensure that the exit baffle is unobstructed and that the liquid level is at the bottom of the pipe, rather than below or above the bottom of the pipe. The line connecting it to the tank must be completely sealed. PLEASE NOTE: In the following photo, looking down an output baffle, the effluent is below the pipe, suggesting a faulty seal. Additionally, the crossover baffle should be clear of blockage.
  • Rubber gloves should be used
  • Dirty gloves and sludge toweling should be disposed of in a plastic bag. Sticks should be soaked in bleach water to sterilize them before keeping them.

How your septic system works

A septic tank and a drainfield are the two main components of a septic system. Water from your home is channeled into your septic tank, where heavy sediments sink to the bottom of the tank and produce a layer of sludge on the bottom of the tank. Grease, toilet paper, and other light substances float to the surface and accumulate to produce a scum layer on the surface of the water. Between the sludge and the scum is a semi-clear layer of wastewater known as effluent, which contains no particles and is located between the two layers.

Bacteria living in the soil purify wastewater by devouring dangerous bacteria and viruses before the wastewater seeps into the groundwater table.

These layers will ultimately require the services of a professional septic pumper to be removed.

In order to properly maintain and check your septic system, you must first identify the sort of system that you have, as well as the needs for particular maintenance and inspection.

The gravity system is the most frequent variety since it does not require the use of a pump to function. Pressure distribution systems, sand filter systems, mound systems, and aerobic treatment units such as the Glendon BioFilter system are examples of other types of systems.

Troubleshooting Septic Tanks

Receive articles, stories, and videos about septic tanks delivered directly to your email! Now is the time to sign up. Septic Tanks and More Receive Notifications It is necessary to open the tank when resolving onsite system problems or when doing an examination of a septic tank so that the contents can be inspected and the condition of both the inlet and outflow baffles can be checked. By just observing the contents of the tank and the baffles, it is possible to gain valuable insight into the overall operation of the system.

  1. In order to identify if the tank contains the three separate levels that should be present, the contents should be analyzed.
  2. If any of these layers are missing, the tank will not operate as efficiently as it should.
  3. The homeowner should be informed of the presence of a large amount of floating material that does not belong in the tank, as well as a large amount of undigested food, so that they may learn how to properly maintain their system and avoid introducing these materials into the wastewater.
  4. In the case of a large amount of undigested food, it might suggest that one of the members of the home suffers from an eating issue or that the garbage disposal is being used excessively; any talk with the owner should be done with caution.
  5. The scum layer should not be extremely thick, and it should not extend beyond or below the exit baffle at any point.
  6. A heavy layer of scum may suggest that the tank need cleaning, but it may also signal that there is a backup owing to an outlet or blockage in the drainfield that is causing water to back up into the tank.
  7. Users of the system may be able to adjust their behaviors or have the tank cleaned on a more frequent basis in this setting.
  8. The tank should be cleaned if the top of the sludge layer is closer than 12 inches to the bottom of the exit baffle, which indicates that the sludge layer is too thick.
  9. This condition can lead to solids being delivered to the soil treatment area, causing plugging of the effluent screen.
  10. Otherwise, building a larger tank or extra tank in series may be essential to alleviate the higher flow problem.

Send him questions about septic system maintenance and operation by sending an email [email protected].

This article is part of a series on troubleshooting septic tanks:

  • Troubleshooting Problem Systems
  • Troubleshooting Septic Tanks
  • Tank Troubleshooting: Checking Inlet and Outlet Baffles
  • Troubleshooting Septic Tanks Troubleshooting: Additional Items to Check in Septic Tanks That Are Having Problems

Maintaining a Septic Tank System

WASTE MANAGEMENTD-1, Home Waste Systems, published in June 1979, 15,000 copies available.


If you already have a septic tank and absorption field built, there are various things you can do to extend their life and safeguard your investment, which could be as much as $2500 or more. Here are a few pointers that you can follow. The idea that septic tanks should be examined at least once a year is something that is frequently disregarded or neglected. The sludge that forms at the bottom of every well working septic tank is known as scum. It is necessary to clear this sludge on a regular basis since it is constituted of solid elements.

  1. By allowing sediments from the septic tank to wash out into the absorption field, the field will ultimately get clogged to the point where a new field will need to be installed.
  2. Tanks with a smaller capacity must be pumped more frequently.
  3. A number of additives may cause sediments to be drained from the septic tank into the absorption field, increasing the likelihood of clogging issues in the absorption field.
  4. The thickness of the sludge in your septic tank may be tested to assess whether or not your tank requires pumping, as depicted in Figure 1.
  5. Reduce the stick’s length by lowering it through the intake tee (to avoid scum) to the bottom of the tank.
  6. The amount of sludge present will be shown by the amount of black particles clinging to the towel.
  7. Septic tanks may occasionally generate a layer of floating scum that collects on the surface of the water.

A stick and hinged flap device can be used to determine the thickness of the scum layer (Figure 1).

Raise the stick until you can feel the bottom of the layer beneath your finger.

Use the same approach to find the lower end of the submerged input pipe at this point as well.

Septic tank pumping services are provided by contractors in the majority of towns.

The contractors pump the contents into a tank truck and dispose of them at a treatment facility that has been approved or by applying suitable land application techniques.

When pumping a septic tank, it is not advisable to wash, scrape, or disinfect the septic tank.

In a similar vein, it is not required to leave sediments in the septic tank in order to “restart” it. Normally, the natural processes begin as soon as the septic tank begins to fill. While there are products available to “seed” the system with desired bacteria, they are not required.

Why You May Have A Septic Tank Crust

There are a variety of reasons why you may notice a septic tank crust on the surface of your septic tank’s surface. What is a septic tank crust, why you could have one, and what to do if you do have one are all discussed in this article. Taking care of a septic tank Keeping an eye on your sewage disposal system, including your septic tank, is a good idea, even though it’s probably not something you’ll want to get too close to every now and then. As you’d expect, keeping an eye on your septic tank and septic tank crusts is also a good idea, because it will ensure that your sewage disposal system remains efficient and safe.

Yes, it can be a little disgusting, but what exactly does it entail?

Do you know what you can do if you have septic tank crust, and will it indicate that you will need a septic tank pump-out or that you will have to call in the professionals to lend you a helping hand?

What is a Septic Tank Crust or Scum Layer?

On the surface of the septic tank lies a thin layer of material that will ordinarily (and should) float to the top. This often contains some fats, oils, and greases, and it’s a clear greenish, greyish, or even brown bubbling liquid that’s normally transparent. Lighter stuff will naturally climb to the top of the pile, just as solids will tend to sink to the bottom, according to fundamental science. Septic tanks are made up of multiple levels, which differ depending on what is put into them. The presence of this layer floating on top of your tank is not uncommon, and it is certainly not uncommon to see a few loose particles, like as feces and paper, that have drifted to the surface along the way.

  • Isn’t it true that a septic tank should include sludge all the way down?
  • The top layer is almost always likely to include some type of scum, however this is not always the case.
  • At the very bottom of your tank should be a layer of thick septic sludge, which, as you would guess, contains the majority of the natural waste that has been released into the system from your home over time.
  • Consider the following: why there could be a crust in the first place, and what you should do if there is any crust at all to address the situation.

Should Your Septic Tank Have a Crust?

As previously stated, the top layer of your septic tank should typically include some type of scum or scum-like substance. This is fairly common, and it has a tendency to be a little frothy and thin in appearance. If your septic tank is in good working order, it is usual to notice a scum layer on the surface of the water with a few bits and pieces floating to the surface. If you look closely, you may notice fragments of toilet paper and perhaps a few floating particles, despite the fact that it is really unpleasant.

Make no distinction between being a scruncher or a wadder; don’t think about it too much.

On the whole, while it’s disgusting to look at, you should be able to notice a greenish-brown color to the top scum on the surface.

If this sounds like the top layer of your septic tank, you generally don’t need to worry about anything at this point.

On rare occasions, though, this scum layer might harden and form a crust on the surface of the water. This is something that may generate a great deal of stress for septic tank owners, so it is important to understand what to expect in the long run. Is it even an issue in the first place?

What Causes the Surface Crust in a Septic Tank?

The surface crust on the surface of your septic tank is almost certainly going to contain a mixture of different oils and fats. As a matter of fact, there’s a word for it: FOG. FOG is an abbreviation for Fats, Oils, and Greases. They will never sink into the lower levels of the tank, therefore the only place they will ever be is at the top of the tank’s water column. Furthermore, because of the nature of these fatty liquids, they might have a tendency to solidify. Septic tank surface – there are no visible fats, oils, or grease.

  1. However, if you leave your tank unattended for a period of several weeks or months, it is much than probable that this will occur.
  2. If you leave it for an extended period of time, it might result in a crust.
  3. To summarize, anything that is even somewhat heavy will sink to the bottom layer of the tank.
  4. So while you may see a few floaters and the occasional piece of paper wadding floating upward into the scum layer, the most of what you see is likely to be FOGs (foul-smelling algae).

Lack of Septic Tank Activity

A lack of activity, such as a complete absence of use, contributes to the growth of septic tank crust. Because there is less fluid flowing about, FOG not only floats to the top of the layer and lingers there, but it also crusts over on the surface. This is as a result of the drying out of the FOG. It begins to harden, which means that your effluent and solid layers underneath it may become trapped and locked off. By doing so, you are preventing air from entering the effluent via the surface, depriving microorganisms of essential oxygen.

When it comes to dealing with the crust on a septic tank, you should only do it if you have a very strong stomach.

Consequently, you may want assistance in order to break through it and restore your tank’s full functionality.

Do I need to Improve My Septic Crust?

It’s easy to believe that a septic tank crust isn’t something to be concerned about in the first place. Leaving it to its own devices, on the other hand, will hinder the bacteria in the tank from getting down to business and breaking down organic matter. Bacteria, like all living organisms, require oxygen in order to thrive and reproduce. By allowing a septic tank crust to accumulate on the top layer of your septic tank, you are essentially preventing air from reaching the bacteria in your tank.

The crust that forms on the surface of a septic tank effectively closes off the effluent and solid layers, causing the bacteria to become anaerobic, become considerably less active, and emit unpleasant gases as a result of the lack of oxygen in the tank.

It is at this point that they begin to physically stink, thereby bringing your tank to a near-standstill in its operation.

3 Tips to Prevent Your Septic Tank From Crusting Over?

This trio of suggestions will keep your septic tank from being further crusted over while also reactivating the bacteria to a very efficient aerobic state?

1. Break Up the Scum Layer

First and foremost, you must disassemble the situation immediately. Simply breaking up the surface with a pole, rake, or hoe is all that is required. Increasing the amount of oxygen in your tank will help the bacteria in the tank to become more active, allowing them to really break down both the waste on the surface and that found in the bottom layers.

2. Use a Biological Septic Tank Deep Cleaning Solution

Deep cleaning your septic tank with a biological solution is recommended. This should aid in the digestion of any FOG present in the top layer, as well as the elimination of the crust over a period of a few weeks.

3. Reduce Your FOG Discharge

Reduce the quantity of FOG that is released from the kitchen sink by putting all used fats, oils, and greases in the kitchen trash bin as soon as they are finished cooking. A biological waste trap and drain cleaner that does not include “chemicals” can help to decrease FOG build-up in your tank and will guarantee that your drains run freely without the chance of becoming clogged with debris.

In Conclusion

Overall, dealing with a septic tank crust problem isn’t a particularly pleasurable experience. Crusts, on the other hand, should be avoided at all costs since they can cause serious difficulties for you in the long term. Draining and repairing septic tank problems later in the process is never enjoyable and will result in needless expenditure and inconvenience. We at Muck Munchers recognize that septic tanks are important infrastructure that people rely on on a daily basis. It’s really simple to let these tanks fall into chaos if you don’t pay attention.

A septic tank crust can cause issues, and in order to solve the problem, the crust must be broken in order for air to be allowed to flow in.

Learn more about what we can do to assist you by browsing our selection of septic tank goods online.

How to Measure Septic Tank Sludge Depth

What is the best way to determine when to pump your septic tank? In a previous piece, you learned that the only way to know for certain when to pump your septic tank is to take an actual measurement of the amount of accumulated sludge and scum in the tank. It is designed such that the septic tank should be pumped when the combined sludge and scum layer displaces 30% of the tank’s total volume. Using the above example, if the liquid depth of the tank is 48″, the tank should be pumped when the combined thickness of the sludge and scum layer measures 14 12″ (48″ X 0.30).

An example of this would be a long hollow plastic tube with a check valve at the bottom of it. The following is the right technique to make use of the sludge judge: To determine the thickness of the scum layer, do the following:

  • The scum layer should be pushed through until it is almost broken through by the sludge judge. Mark on the tube in a visibly obvious manner the link between the top of the scum layer and the spot on it. Pulling the tube up and measuring the length of the tube are two options. In many cases, you may see part of the scum layer adhered to the tube to help you locate it
  • This is normal.

The following are the measurements for the sludge layer:

  • Slowly lower the tube into the septic tank until it comes into contact with the tank’s bottom
  • And With each gradual pull of the gadget out of the water, the check valve shuts, allowing a liquid/solid profile of the septic tank water to be captured. It is possible to determine the thickness of the sludge layer

The collected sludge inside the tube measured around 8″ – 9″ in diameter, and there was no scum layer present in this specimen. The thickness of the scum layer would simply be added to the 8′ – 9″ measurement if there was one. In this particular instance, the scum/sludge layer combined displaces approximately 18 percent of the tank volume (8 12″/48″ in this case). Upon further investigation, it was discovered that this septic tank had last been drained 26 months before. The septic tank should be pumped within 43 months of the last septic tank pump out, based on this date (0.18 / 26 months X 0.30 = 43 months) of the last pump out.

Even if the cost of $75 for a sludge judge is beyond of reach for you, you may construct your own gadget that will do the same function.

The length of the stick will vary depending on how deep your septic tank is buried.

The idea here is to avoid wrapping it too tightly around the stick’s handle.

Pay close attention to the link between the top of the scum layer and the placement on the sticking stick.

The scum layer is often adhered to the stick to help you locate it, and this is a good way to identify the location.

Continue to slide the stick back and forth in a plus (+) pattern for approximately 2″ in each direction to enable the solids to flow through the cheesecloth slowly and softly.

Measure the witness line of solids that are lodged into the cheesecloth to determine the amount of solids present.

Calculate the percent capacity in the same way as in the previous example.

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