How hydrogen sulfide forms in septic tanks

When you decide to purchase a property, one of the main concerns you have is to make the septic system more efficient. It is important for homeowners to be aware of the things that make up their wastewater treatment system. Doing so will allow them to care for their properties better. For years, the mystery about septic systems and hydrogen sulfide has always been a subject for discussion. Some areas do not perceive it as an issue at all while other premises categorize it as severe. Homeowners should understand how hydrogen sulfide forms in septic tanks. Below are the concepts that you should take note of:

  • H2S (hydrogen sulfide) is a waste product of anaerobic bacterial decomposition that happens in an ordinary septic tank.
  •  H2S is excreted by the thiobacillus bacteria that naturally occur in the septic tank during the breakdown of organic materials.
  • H2S usually gathers in that space above the water line in the lateral lines, distribution box, and the septic tank.
  • H2S mixes with low oxygen levels and water vapor, forming H2SO4 (sulfuric acid).The resulting sulfuric acid starts to deteriorate the concrete elements of the tank and the distribution box. The severe level of deterioration depends on the conditions that develop through the years. One main evidence of deterioration is the ettringite or calcium sulfoaluminate formations. The white formations of this inorganic compound is located on the area of concrete above the exposed reinforced steel and rebar, also above the water line. The concrete that surround the steel part of the septic system is targeted by the ettringite.As you know, the septic system should always be well taken care of. It is never ideal to let such levels of deterioration affect it. Once calcium sulfoaluminate forms in the septic system, the entire wastewater treatment process is compromised. The septic tank and the distribution box are clogged by the ettringite that forms over them. Once the concrete layers of the baffles and fasteners are damaged, they rust. When this happens, the septic system is vulnerable to leakage and blockage because of the sediments that are forced into the system. The debris that enter the septic tank and distribution system cause the treatment process to be interrupted. The wastewater flow backs up and even escapes through the created crevices of the deterioration.

    You will be able to know if the distribution box is deteriorating if the septic tank already has obvious signs of damage. Deterioration of concrete depends on the quality of concrete used to construct the septic tank and the distribution box. If the septic tank deteriorates but the distribution box does not, the brand of concrete might be different. The concrete used on the distribution box may support the manufacture of sulfuric acid.

    The root cause of the ettringite formation is the thiobacillus bacteria, which survive in an environment that has no oxygen. Once the bacteria are exposed to oxygen, they will die off and the sulfuric acid won’t be produced anymore. You should understand how calcium can block an aerobic system. If you have an aerobic septic system, you should make sure that you maintain it well. Otherwise, thiobacillus bacteria will thrive again and produce sulfuric acid. When this happens, the ettringite will be produced again and block the system. Maintaining your aerobic septic system will do much good. If you still haven’t turned your septic into an aerobic system, you should have a talk with your septic expert. Installing aeration devices into your septic system will ensure its longevity. It will also save you a lot of money for repairs or replacements. Oxygenation of your septic system will also enhance the breakdown of organic components. It will also help in preventing bio-mat growth.

    Once you smell rotten eggs in your septic area, have it inspected immediately so that proper measures can be taken to correct the situation. Talk to your septic expert for ways to improve your present septic system.