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Most homeowners give little to no thought the aftermath of their drains and flushes. However, knowing how your septic system works could potentially save you money in the long run and provide you peace of mind. Septic systems are comprised of several components that all play essential roles in separating and treating wastewater. An effluent filter is a relatively inexpensive addition to residential septic tanks that will extend the life of your entire septic system. The devices require very little maintenance from homeowners while providing peace of mind to the household and its drain field.

Read on to see if an effluent filter will benefit your household.


What is an Effluent Filter?

An effluent filter is a device or filter that is installed inside your septic tank. Its primary function is to filter out any solids in the wastewater leaving the tank and preventing them from entering the leach or drainfield. The filter assists in the removal of solids from the wastewater before it makes its way into a drain field. Designed to protect the drain field, effluent filters allow for clean effluent to leave the septic tank. The cylindrical device is installed on the outlet baffle of a septic tank that assists in the removal of solids from wastewater before it enters into a drain field.

All of the wastewater that leaves your tank runs through the effluent filter, which prevents any solids from getting dumped into the drainfield. Your septic system, where it is located and how old it is can affect the cost and time it will take to have an effluent filter installed in your septic tank.


How Effluent Filters Work

An effluent filter is an inexpensive tool used to prevent homeowners from racking up costly repairs when their septic system fails. Any waste that pumps through a septic system contains solid material. As that solid material breaks down, it will settle at the bottom of the tank forming a sludge layer. The lighter materials form a scum layer.

As your septic tank fills, the liquid will exit the septic tank through a pipe fitted in the outlet hole. The majority of the material exiting the tank is liquid; however, there will be some solids moving through. The effluent filter stops those liquids before they reach the surrounding soil or your drain field. The liquid runs through the slots on the filter, while the solids will be stopped. A properly maintained effluent filter will work efficiently and prevent any backups in your system.


Advantages of Effluent Filters

In the case of effluent filters, the benefits tend to outweigh the disadvantages. The EPA states that the presence of a properly installed effluent filter will extend the life of one’s leach field and improve the quality of effluent.

  • Cost-effective
  • Prevent solids from entering drain fields and premature failure
  • Easily installed onto existing septic tanks
  • Requires little maintenance
  • Peace of mind


Dangers of Solid Waste in the Drain Field

Waste leaving your home enters the septic tank through the inlet baffle, an internal “tee” fitting that directs the flow of wastes toward the bottom of the tank. This action encourages the solids to collect at the bottom where they will be slowly digested by helpful bacteria. Ultimately, the byproducts of digestion, called sludge, will accumulate and require pumping at regular intervals.

Lightweight waste products, such as grease and fats, will float to the top of the tank and form what is known as a scum layer. The scum will be removed at the same time the tank is pumped. In between the solids and oily scum, wastewater is allowed to flow across the tank and exit through an outlet baffle. The outlet baffle is directly connected to the drain field which disperses liquid waste, or effluent, into the surrounding soil.

This process is self-regulating in most cases, but the influx of inorganic solids can interfere with the septic tank’s functioning. These materials cannot be digested by bacteria, and they often become suspended in the watery mid-level and enter the drainage field along with the liquid wastes.


If you fail to get an effluent filter installation, you run the risk of solid waste making it out to your drain field. If it makes it out to your drain field, it will likely clog it up. Repairing this type of damage can be difficult, and this often necessitates the installation of a new drain field.


Why are Effluent Filters Important?

Ideally, keeping solid inorganic materials out of the household waste stream is the best way to protect your septic system. However, inorganic trash, which includes cigarette filters, dryer lint, tampons, small toys, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, condoms and medical dressings, often find their way into septic systems. Installing and maintaining an effluent filter in your septic system is essential for eliminating solids from your tank. The filter minimizes your risk of blockages and failures in the system. Older septic systems lack effluent filters and therefore, can be quite a pain to maintain. As septic systems have evolved, the role of the effluent filter has become more obvious. They are now a standard operational component for new septic system installations. If you have an existing tank without one, a septic tank company can easily add one to your system.


Why Your Septic Tank Needs a Filter

The septic system has become a vital need of residential buildings worldwide. The proper operation of these systems is very important to avoid overflow and different hazardous issues. The tank filter plays a big role in the proper operation of the septic tank system.

Sometimes you send solid waste, worse, gravel, and hair into your septic system that 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.


Maintenance of Effluent Filters

Your effluent filter acts as an additional barrier for solid waste, preventing any solid particles from making their way into the leaching field. Though maintenance will be minimal, regular cleaning is required for optimal performance. Because of the nature of the component, solids will collect over time. Watch for signs that it might be time for cleaning.

During routine septic service, such a pumping out the tank, the filter should be inspected and cleaned. For the average residential household, the septic tank will require pumping every 1-3 years. Of course, this will vary for each person depending on their characteristics, such as household size, the amount of water used, and the number of solids that get filtered through.


4 Signs of a Blocked Effluent Filter

While you should always have a professional perform maintenance on your septic system, there are a few tell-tale signs that you are experiencing issues with a clogged septic filter.


  • There is a large amount of solid waste in your septic tank
  • You have wastewater backing up into your house
  • You are experiencing septic drainfield failure
  • Your septic tank monitor is alerting you


Call West Coast Sanitation Today!

There are many advantages of effluent filters, especially in older homes. The outlet of most septic systems will last about 20-30 years, so having that extra layer of protection is useful. In addition, homes with multiple children or frequent guests tend to have more things being flushed down the drains, which an effluent filter will help keep from entering wastewater.

At West Coast Sanitation, we know that you don’t have time to deal with septic problems. If you think that your system has reached capacity, please give us a call right away. We have professionals ready to answer your questions and get your system working properly again.

Please give us a call at (951) 780-5922 right away. We have professionals ready to answer your questions and get your system working properly again.