A septic system is an expensive piece of equipment. In fact, it can be the most expensive fixture in your home. Over 20% of US households use an onsite system to treat wastewater, solids, and gray water.
There is information on this page regarding how septic systems work, the different types of systems, how to maintain a system, danger signs, and frequently asked questions.
Septic systems consist of two main components: a septic tank and a leach field.
Septic tanks are described in detail on the septic tank page.
To learn more about leach fields or absorption fields, please visit the leach field page.
Through the household plumbing system, liquid effluent, human sewage, and wastewater leave the home via the main drain drainage pipe, and enter the septic tank via the inlet pipe.
A septic tank is designed to partially decompose lighter solids and to process and treat wastewater effectively. This job is completed when the lighter solids (sludge) and heavy solids settle on the bottom and the scum accumulates to form a scum layer (including grease and oils) at the top leaving a layer of water in the middle.
A semi-treated liquid wastewater or effluent thereafter exits the tank via the outlet pipe, which is often fitted with effluent filters to ensure that sludge and sewage remain in the system and only septic tank effluent flows into the soil absorption field.
The absorption field is an allocated area in the back yard where small perforated pipes allow the liquid wastewater to be distributed into the surrounding soil to naturally remove pathogens including coliform bacteria and to treat any further nasties by the soil. Surface water naturally dissipates into groundwater once it has dissipated.
The above is an overview of how septic systems work. For more information, please refer to the frequently asked questions section.
Some of the most common types of setups are:
To avoid causing property damage to your septic tank, you should avoid driving over the ground surface over the septic tank, distribution box and absorption field with heavy vehicles.
In order to address excess sludge and scum in a conventional septic system, a wide range of septic tank additives are available on the market. These include old wives tales to treatments developed and developed by some of the best colleges in the country. It is important to note that using a septic treatment does not mean you can abuse your septic tank, as taking care when using things such as garbage disposals and what you put down your toilet and sink is very important for your system.
It is important to maintain your septic system periodically so that you will not be faced with a large repair or maintenance bill in the future. You can accomplish this by avoiding household chemicals, antibacterial soaps, cigarette butts, motor oil, and paper towels down toilets, or by utilizing your garbage disposal liberally.
A reduced amount of household wastewater is always a plus, whether you are using a well or county water. The soil absorption field cannot handle a large amount of water and you will flush out the natural bacteria in your tank if you do back to back loads of washing. If you put too much liquid into your system at one time, for example, you do back to back loads of washing. This can result in groundwater around your tank or an overflowing system.
As the final step in sewage treatment in a septic system, a leach field or septic drain field is known as a drain field, leech field or absorption field. The leach field as it is most commonly known is a network of underground pipes containing a large number of small holes to allow the wastewater to be distributed into the surrounding soil.
You will learn in this article what a leach field is, how it works, how to spot problems, and how to answer the most frequently asked questions regarding drain fields.