What is a septic system & how does it function?

A septic system is an underground holding tank that holds the amount of wastewater that flows from a home within a 48-hour period. It has an inlet and an outlet pipe. Wastewater flows from the home to the septic tank through the sewer pipe. The septic tank then treats the wastewater by keeping it in the tank long enough for solids and liquids to separate. Bacteria found naturally in the wastewater work to break the solids down. The sludge that cannot be broken down is retained in the tank until the tank is pumped out.

Material that goes through a septic tank is divided into three general categories:

  1. Crust: (lighter in weight than water) that floats near the top of the tank

  2. Liquid: Center of the tank

  3. Sludge: Sinks to the bottom of the tank

There are 2 parts to a basic septic system:

  1. Septic Tank: Raw sewage flows from a home into the tank with the intent of separating the liquid from solid materials.

  2. Field Lines: Receives the liquid effluent and distributes it into the ground for absorption.

Normally, a septic tank remains filled to the bottom of the outlet pipe in order to function properly. If the septic system is overloaded by running toilets, leaky faucets or more people live in a home than originally anticipated, then two problems are created; the tank receives new waste faster than it can separate and digest and the field lines become saturated or overloaded.

Why should you take care of your septic system?

Neglect or improper care of your septic tank could damage your system and cost you more in the long-run than doing proper regular maintenance care.

A few dollars spent on proper cleaning of your septic tank every three to five years is less expensive than spending an unexpected $2,000 - $10,000 on a repair bill.

Some of the warning signals of septic system problems are:
  • Sluggishness when flushing toilet.
  • Any plumbing backups.
  • Gurgling sounds in the plumbing.
  • Obnoxious odors inside or outside.
  • Ground mushy underfoot.
  • Low spots beginning to appear in your yard.

Maintenance Tips:

  • Have your septic tank cleaned regularly by a licensed professional to remove all solids.

  • Never go into the septic tank yourself due to lack of oxygen and dangerous gases.

  • Repair any leaky faucets or running toilets immediately.

  • Do not empty roof drains and sump pump water into the septic system.

  • Do not plant trees on or close to the septic system area.

  • Do not pour grease, paint or fruit and vegetable peels down a faucet or disposal.

 

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