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Биотехнологии Potential problems
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Excessive dumping of cooking oils and grease can cause the inlet drains to block. Oils and grease are often difficult to degrade and can cause odor problems and difficulties with the periodic emptying.

Flushing non-biodegradable items such as cigarette butts and hygiene products such as sanitary napkins, tampons, and cotton buds/swabs will rapidly fill or clog a septic tank; these materials should not be disposed of in this way.

The use of garbage disposals for disposal of waste food can cause a rapid overload of the system and early failure.

Certain chemicals may damage the components of a septic tank, especially pesticides, herbicides, materials with high concentrations of bleach or caustic soda (lye) or any other inorganic materials such as paints or solvents.

Other chemicals can destroy septic bacteria itself, most notably silver nitrate even in very small quanities will kill an entire culture.

Roots from trees and shrubbery growing above the tank or the drainfield may clog and/or rupture them.

Playgrounds and storage buildings may cause damage to a tank and the drainage field. In addition, covering the drainage field with an impermeable surface, such as a driveway or parking area, will seriously affect its efficiency and possibly damage the tank and absorption system.

Excessive water entering the system will overload it and cause it to fail. Checking for plumbing leaks and practicing water conservation will help the system's operation.

Very high rainfall, rapid snow-melt, and flooding from rivers or the sea can all prevent a drain field from operating and can cause flow to back up and stop the normal operation of the tank.

Over time, biofilms develop on the pipes of the drainage field, which can lead to blockage. Such a failure can be referred to as "biomat failure".

Septic tanks by themselves are ineffective at removing nitrogen compounds that have potential to cause algal blooms in receiving waters; this can be remedied by using a nitrogen-reducing technology, or by simply ensuring that the leach field is properly sited to prevent direct entry of effluent into bodies of water.

Not all varieties of toilet paper have been suitable for disposal in a septic tank, as some in the past did not deteriorate sufficiently (or, at least at some points in history, some toilet paper was specifically marked as suitable for use in septic systems and some was not).

Control questions:

1. What exactly is a septic tank?

2. Where is my septic tank located?

3. Are all septic tanks the same size?

4. Are all septic tanks made of the same material?