Understanding Your Septic System

Opening the lids to investigate leaks around a septic system’s tanks & pump chamber

Going from a sewer connection to a septic system can feel like a huge change.

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Maybe you’ve gotten used to dealing with a sewer drain clog. Or perhaps, you’ve already mastered identifying whether the problem lies with your connection or the city sewer main. 

Septic systems are pretty different, though. Instead of wastewater and sewage flowing to a municipal sewer system, they flow out to septic tanks and drainage fields. At some point, these become saturated, needing professional services to pump them out. 

Sometimes, a septic tank will require significant work so that experts can modify the system. That being said, if you’re still trying to figure out how your septic system works and how to maintain it, read on.

Septic System Basics

Waste management using septic systems is a fascinating example of technology working with nature. You see, your septic system is composed of two major parts–a septic tank and a drainage field.

When you do laundry, wash the dishes, or take a bath, the water you use goes into a septic tank. If you don’t know where to locate yours, look around your yard. It’s usually buried 10 to 25 feet away from a house. 

Septic tanks digest the organic matter from wastewater so that solids, oils, and grease stay in the tank. Only the remaining liquid or effluent leaves the tank, slowly entering the drain field.

Here, pretreatment of the effluent happens as it filters through the soil. Further treatment occurs the longer it stays in the ground. Then the system will discharge it to groundwater. 

Septic Tank Maintenance

Soil absorption fields can flood when septic systems fail. When this happens, it creates problems such as backups in toilets and sinks. Keep in mind that this is a health hazard that can cause diseases like gastroenteritis.

You’re lucky if you’re having a new septic system installed. Since this requires a building permit, inspectors will check the building site and the grounds to see if it can support a septic system. Proper installation goes a long way in septic tank maintenance. 

Before installation, you can also work with a septic tank design expert. Your property might be better off with an alternative system that disinfects wastewater before it enters the soil. 

After installation, you can keep your septic tank and system in great shape by not overloading it with water. That means repairing leaks, using aerators on faucets, buying energy-efficient appliances, and so on. You can also protect your septic system by disposing of garbage properly, planting grass over your drain field, and performing regular maintenance.

Take Care of Your Septic Tank and System 

Septic system maintenance is more manageable with proper installation. If you don’t know where to start, consider working with a septic system design professional to minimize problems down the road.

When your system’s up and running, make water-saving practices the norm in your home. Remember, all water that you use ends up in your septic tank. 

For more home improvement tips and advice, check out our other posts.