Septic tanks work by allowing waste to separate into three layers: solids, effluent and scum (see illustration above). The solids settle to the bottom, where microorganisms decompose them. The middle layer of effluent exits the tank and travels through underground perforated pipes into the drainage field.
How do septic tank systems work?
Septic tanks, whether they are single or multi-chambered, utilise the simple process of gravity to separate the liquid waste from the solid waste that flows into it from your property. The lighter solids in the waste, along with oil and grease, float to the surface and form a “scum” layer.
How does a septic tank work simple?
How septic tanks work. Partially treated water from the tank flows via an outlet into the drainfield. This wastewater then percolates into the soil through small holes in the pipes. Microorganisms in the soil then remove any of the remaining harmful particles in the wastewater.
How do septic tanks look?
Septic tanks are typically rectangular in shape and measure approximately 5 feet by 8 feet. In most cases, septic tank components including the lid, are buried between 4 inches and 4 feet underground. You can use a metal probe to locate its edges and mark the perimeter.
How does a septic drain field work?
The drainfield is a shallow, covered, excavation made in unsaturated soil. Pretreated wastewater is discharged through piping onto porous surfaces that allow wastewater to filter though the soil. The soil accepts, treats, and disperses wastewater as it percolates through the soil, ultimately discharging to groundwater.
What are the 3 types of septic systems?
Types of Septic Systems
- Septic Tank.
- Conventional System.
- Chamber System.
- Drip Distribution System.
- Aerobic Treatment Unit.
- Mound Systems.
- Recirculating Sand Filter System.
- Evapotranspiration System.
How are septic tanks connected?
The septic tank is connected to the house by a single main drainage pipe also called inlet pipe. The water waste from your home goes through it and into the septic tank where solid and liquid waste are separated from liquid. Like the inlet and outlet pipes, this baffle is often T-shaped to prevent solids from entering.
How is septic tank constructed?
Septic tank Consists of Top Slab, Bottom Slab with PCC Bed, Shear walls around the tank and a top cover (Opening) to check the level of Waste water.
What are the signs that your septic tank is full?
Here are some of the most common warning signs that you have a full septic tank:
- Your Drains Are Taking Forever.
- Standing Water Over Your Septic Tank.
- Bad Smells Coming From Your Yard.
- You Hear Gurgling Water.
- You Have A Sewage Backup.
- How often should you empty your septic tank?
How do you tell if your septic tank is full?
How to tell your septic tank is full and needs emptying
- Pooling water.
- Slow drains.
- An overly healthy lawn.
- Sewer backup.
- Gurgling Pipes.
- Trouble Flushing.
What is the depth of septic tank?
Standard size of septic tank in feet:- standard size of septic tank should be 5 feet long by 2.5 feet wide by 3.3 feet in depth. This septic tank has capacity of 1000 litres of liquid wastages ideal for 5 users of house hold.
What are the different types of septic tanks?
Septic Tank Types
- Concrete. Concrete septic tanks. These durable tanks will usually last for several decades.
- Steel. Steel septic tanks.
- Fiberglass. Fiberglass septic tanks.
- Plastic. Plastic septic tanks.
- Aerobic. Aerobic septic tanks.
How do I know if my drain field is failing?
The following are a few common signs of leach field failure:
- Grass over leach field is greener than the rest of the yard.
- The surrounding area is wet, mushy, or even has standing water.
- Sewage odors around drains, tank, or leach field.
- Slow running drains or backed up plumbing.
How do leach lines work on a septic tank?
Leach lines go by many names: leach field, leach bed, filter bed, or percolation bed. Leach lines disperse septic effluent into the ground after passing through the septic tank. To broadcast the effluent over the widest possible area, leach pipes fan out across an open area, usually a backyard.
How often should a septic tank be pumped?
Inspect and Pump Frequently The average household septic system should be inspected at least every three years by a septic service professional. Household septic tanks are typically pumped every three to five years.
Types of Septic Systems
Septic system design and size can differ significantly from one neighborhood to the next, as well as throughout the country, due to a variety of variables. Household size, soil type, slope of the site, lot size, closeness to sensitive water bodies, weather conditions, and even municipal ordinances are all considerations to take into consideration. The following are 10 of the most often encountered septic system configurations. It should be noted that this is not an exhaustive list; there are several additional types of septic systems.
- Septic Tank, Conventional System, Chamber System, Drip Distribution System, Aerobic Treatment Unit, Mound Systems, Recirculating Sand Filter System, Evapotranspiration System, Constructed Wetland System, Cluster / Community System, etc.
This tank is underground and waterproof, and it was designed and built specifically for receiving and partially treating raw home sanitary wastewater. Generally speaking, heavy materials settle at or near the bottom of the tank, whereas greases and lighter solids float to the surface. The sediments are retained in the tank, while the wastewater is sent to the drainfield for further treatment and dispersion once it has been treated.
Septic tanks and trench or bed subsurface wastewater infiltration systems are two types of decentralized wastewater treatment systems (drainfield). When it comes to single-family homes and small businesses, a traditional septic system is the most common type of system. For decades, people have used a gravel/stone drainfield as a method of water drainage. The term is derived from the process of constructing the drainfield. A short underground trench made of stone or gravel collects wastewater from the septic tank in this configuration, which is commonly used.
Effluent filters through the stone and is further cleaned by microorganisms once it reaches the soil below the gravel/stone trench, which is located below the trench.
Gravelless drainfields have been regularly utilized in various states for more than 30 years and have evolved into a standard technology that has mostly replaced gravel systems. Various configurations are possible, including open-bottom chambers, pipe that has been clothed, and synthetic materials such as expanded polystyrene media. Gravelless systems can be constructed entirely of recycled materials, resulting in considerable reductions in carbon dioxide emissions during their lifetime. The chamber system is a type of gravelless system that can be used as an example.
The key advantage of the chamber system is the enhanced simplicity with which it can be delivered and built.
This sort of system is made up of a number of chambers that are connected to one another.
Wastewater is transported from the septic tank to the chambers through pipes. The wastewater comes into touch with the earth when it is contained within the chambers. The wastewater is treated by microbes that live on or near the soil.
Drip Distribution System
An effluent dispersal system such as the drip distribution system may be employed in a variety of drainfield configurations and is very versatile. In comparison to other distribution systems, the drip distribution system does not require a vast mound of dirt because the drip laterals are only placed into the top 6 to 12 inches of soil. In addition to requiring a big dosage tank after the sewage treatment plant to handle scheduled dose delivery of wastewater to drip absorption areas, the drip distribution system has one major disadvantage: it is more expensive.
Aerobic Treatment Unit
Aerobic Treatment Units (ATUs) are small-scale wastewater treatment facilities that employ many of the same procedures as a municipal sewage plant. An aerobic system adds oxygen to the treatment tank using a pump. When there is an increase in oxygen in the system, there is an increase in natural bacterial activity, which then offers extra treatment for nutrients in the effluent. It is possible that certain aerobic systems may additionally include a pretreatment tank as well as a final treatment tank that will include disinfection in order to further lower pathogen levels.
ATUs should be maintained on a regular basis during their service life.
Using mound systems in regions with short soil depth, high groundwater levels, or shallow bedrock might be a good alternative. A drainfield trench has been dug through the sand mound that was erected. The effluent from the septic tank runs into a pump chamber, where it is pumped to the mound in the amounts recommended. During its release to the trench, the effluent filters through the sand and is dispersed into the native soil, where it continues to be treated. However, while mound systems can be an effective solution for some soil conditions, they demand a significant amount of land and require regular care.
Recirculating Sand Filter System
Sand filter systems can be built either above or below ground, depending on the use. The effluent is discharged from the septic tank into a pump compartment. Afterwards, it is pushed into the sand filter. The sand filter is often made of PVC or a concrete box that is filled with a sand-like substance. The effluent is pushed through the pipes at the top of the filter under low pressure to the drain. As the effluent exits the pipelines, it is treated as it passes through the sand filtering system.
However, sand filters are more costly than a standard septic system because they provide a higher level of nutrient treatment and are thus better suited for areas with high water tables or that are adjacent to bodies of water.
Evaporative cooling systems feature drainfields that are one-of-a-kind. It is necessary to line the drainfield at the base of the evapotranspiration system with a waterproof material. Following the entry of the effluent into the drainfield, it evaporates into the atmosphere. At the same time, the sewage never filters into the soil and never enters groundwater, unlike other septic system designs. It is only in particular climatic circumstances that evapotranspiration systems are effective. The environment must be desert, with plenty of heat and sunshine, and no precipitation.
Constructed Wetland System
Construction of a manufactured wetland is intended to simulate the treatment processes that occur in natural wetland areas. Wastewater goes from the septic tank and into the wetland cell, where it is treated. Afterwards, the wastewater goes into the media, where it is cleaned by microorganisms, plants, and other media that eliminate pathogens and nutrients. Typically, a wetland cell is constructed with an impermeable liner, gravel and sand fill, and the necessary wetland plants, all of which must be capable of withstanding the constant saturation of the surrounding environment.
As wastewater travels through the wetland, it may escape the wetland and flow onto a drainfield, where it will undergo more wastewater treatment before being absorbed into the soil by bacteria.
Cluster / Community System
Construction of a manmade wetland is designed to imitate the treatment processes that occur naturally in wetland areas. Wastewater is discharged from the septic tank into the wetland cell. Afterwards, the wastewater goes into the media, where it is cleaned by microorganisms, plants, and other media, which remove pathogens and nutrients. The wetland cell is normally comprised of an impermeable liner, gravel and sand fill, and the required wetland plants, all of which must be able to thrive in a constantly flooded environment in order to function properly.
In other cases, wastewater may depart the wetland and flow onto a drainfield, where it will be treated further before being absorbed into the soil.
How a Septic Tank System Works
The most popular form of septic system is composed of four major components:
- A sewer exit pipe that transports wastewater from the residence to the septic tank while also venting noxious gases up and out of the house. Septic tank composed of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene that is underground and waterproof
- It is typically put around 6 feet away from a house. It comprises of one or more distributor boxes and a network of pipes that are buried in relatively shallow trenches that are generally filled with gravel or other filler
- The drainfield The soil, which contains microorganisms that digest the majority of toxins before they reach groundwater
How it Works
The wastewater from the house is flushed or washed into the septic tank through the exit pipe and into the drain field. Heavy solids sink to the bottom of the container. Over the course of 24-48 hours, the solids decompose and produce a sludge layer. A scum layer forms at the top of the tank’s liquid due to the accumulation of lighter floatablesolids, such as grease, oils, and fats, which float freely. Solid waste is continually being broken down by the bacteria that dwell in the septic tank.
Effluent is the term used to describe the liquid that is cleansed or drained into the tank.
As the tank fills with liquid, the liquid drains into the drainfield, where it is absorbed by the soil and becomes harmless.
The liquid flows into the soil layers, where microbes filter and digest any toxins that may have gotten into the system. By the time wastewater reaches groundwater, it has undergone complete treatment.
A claim made by companies that manufacture and sell biological additives is that their product restores the bacterial equilibrium of the septic tank and that doing so is important as part of a periodic monthly maintenance program. However, because bacteria already exist in human feces, these additions are typically not required.
Documentation Download Documentation Download Documentation There are two main sections to most private septic systems: the holding and digesting tanks, and the dispersion field or leach field. As the liquid waste in the first holding tank fills up, it will be transferred to the second holding tank. Once the second tank is completely filled with liquid, the liquid will dissipate into the earth underneath it. The system displayed here is a modest system that is intended for limited use by two persons who do not need to do laundry.
- When compared to a conventional house septic system, this system employs two 55 US gallon (210 L) drums, rather than the 1,000–2,000 US gallon (3,800–7,600 L) tanks that are utilized in a standard home septic system.
- Property owners considering installing a system similar to this one should be advised that this system would fail inspections by any public health department in the United States, and that the owner may be liable to a fine if the system was discovered in operation by a health official.
- Toilets that conserve water nowadays utilize less than two litres of water every flush.
- It might be a lifeline for those who live in areas where septic treatment is not available.
Part 1 of 3: Cutting the Tanks
- 1Cut a hole in the center of the top of each drum that is the same size as the outer measurement of the toilet flange. Take the outside diameter of the toilet flange that you’re using and multiply it by two. Place the hole close to the edge of the drum so that you may simply connect them to pipes in the near future. Cut the drums using a saber saw to make them lighter
- 2 Each hole should be capped with a 4 in (10 cm) toilet flange. Push the flanges into the top of each tank until they are flush with the surface. As soon as the flanges are in position, tighten them down so they don’t move or shift once they are in place. Advertisement
- s3 Cut a hole in the first drum that is 4 in (10 cm) in diameter on the opposite side of the drum from the hole in the top. Placing the hole approximately 4–5 inches (10–13 cm) below the top of the drum and ensuring that it lines up with the hole on the top of the tank are the most important steps. 4 Make a hole in the wall with a saber saw or a hole saw. Cut two holes in the side of the drum at 45-degree angles to the center of the hole on the top, one on each side of the drum. The center line is the line that runs through the middle of the hole on the top of the drum. Make 45-degree angles from either side of the centerline, then mark them on the second drum using a permanent marker. Make your holes in the barrel by cutting through the side with a saber or a hole saw and drilling them out. Advertisement
Part 2 of 3: Placing the Tanks Underground
- 1 Dig a trench that is 4 ft 26 ft 3 ft (1.22 m 7.92 m 0.91 m) in length and width. Excavator or shovel are both good options for digging a hole in the ground where you wish to put your tank. Continue excavating until the hole measures 4 feet (1.2 m) in width, 26 feet (7.9 m) in length, and 3 feet (0.91 m) in depth.
- Excavators for excavating are often available for hire from a heavy machinery supply company. Look for equipment rentals on the internet
- 2Place the drum at the end of the trench, with one side hole drilled in it. When you place the drum on the floor, make sure it is level. Check to see sure the drum’s top is at least 4 inches (10 cm) below the surface of the water. 3 Dig a hole that is one foot (30 cm) deeper than the first to accommodate the positioning of the second drum in front of the first. In order to ensure a tight fit and prevent the drum from shifting, make your hole the same diameter as the drum you’re inserting in it. 4 The hole should be leveled with gravel until a 90-degree curve can be made to connect the top drum’s hole on one side to the toilet flange on the other. Check the alignment of the holes in the 90-degree bend between the two drums by dry fitting it between the two drums. If you need to improve the alignment of the pipe line, dig the hole a little deeper. 5 To make the bend, cut 31 2in (8.9 cm) pieces of ABS pipe and adhere them to the bend with epoxy or hot glue. With a hacksaw, cut the ABSpipe parts, also known as nipples. 6 Insert the pieces into the bend and hold them in place using PVC adhesive. Check the fit between the two drums to ensure that they are in alignment. Insert the end of the 21 2in (6.4 cm) nipple into the side hole of the first drum and tighten the nut. 7Glue the end of the 31 2in (8.9 cm) nipple into the toilet flange on the second tank, making sure that the nipple on the other end aligns with the hole on the top of the second drum. To hold the bent in place, apply PVC adhesive to the inside of the curve. Don’t be concerned about the link to the first drum just yet
- You’ll make that connection later. 8. Glue a Y-bend to a 31 2in (8.9 cm) nipple, and then bend the angled piece of the Y-bend at a 45-degree angle. Using your PVC adhesive, attach a nipple to the end of the Y-bend and let it dry. Assemble the Y-bend and align the angled pipe on it so it meets the incoming waste line, then glue it onto the toilet flange. 9 21 2in (6.4 cm) nipples are cut and glued to one end of the 45-degree bends at the bottom of the lower drum, and they are then inserted into the side of the lower drum. Directional bends are defined as those that are perpendicular to the bottom of the trench at their ends. Advertisement
Part 3 of 3: Connecting the Drain Pipes
- Put a stake into the ground and level it with the bottom of each of the 45-degree bends. 2Put a stake into the ground and level it with the top of the 45-degree bends. It doesn’t matter what sort of stakes you use since they all work. Use a mallet or hammer to pound the stakes into the ground. Attach a one-inch-wide block to the end of a four-foot-long (1.2-meter-long) level using duct tape. This will assist you in ensuring that you create sloped drain pipes so that your tanks can empty
- 3Place another stake approximately 37 8ft (1.2 m) down the trench from the first one
- 4Place another stake approximately 37 8ft (1.2 m) down the trench from the first one
- 5Place another stake approximately 37 8ft (1.2 m) down the trench from the first one. Drive the stake down until it is the same height as the first one using your hammer or mallet
- 4 Place the end of the level without the block on the first stake and the block on the second stake to complete the level without the block. Continue to pound the second stake into the ground until the level is balanced. 1 inch (2.5 cm) lower than the previous post, or 1 inch (0.64 cm) lower per 1 foot (30 cm)
- 5Repeat this method until you have stakes running the whole length of the trench
- Continue to place stakes down the rest of the trench every 37 8feet (1.2 m) from the last one, ensuring that the stakes slope away from the drums
- 6Place gravel in the trench until the top of the gravel is level with the top of the stakes
- 7Place gravel in the trench until the top of the gravel is level with the top of the stakes The gravel will now slope away from the drums at a rate of 1 4 inch (0.64 cm) per 1 foot (30 cm) of horizontal distance
- 7Place 20 ft (6.1 m) of perforated drain pipe into each hole on the second drum
- 8Place 20 ft (6.1 m) of perforated drain pipe into each hole on the third drum
- 9Place 20 ft (6.1 m) of perforated drain pipe into each hole on the fourth drum
- 10P Insert the ends of the drain pipes into the 45-degree bends on the lower drum to complete the installation. 9Make certain that the perforations in the pipes are facing down so that liquids may soak back into the earth
- 8checking the pipes with a level to ensure that the 1 4in (0.64 cm) slope is consistent throughout the length of the pipe. Fill up any gaps in the slope by adding or removing gravel under the pipe. Seal the 45-degree and 90-degree bends that connect the lower and top drums, respectively, with silicone. For the greatest seal possible on your drain pipes, use a two-part epoxy or silicone caulk. For this purpose, consider utilizing flex pipe, which will yield a little bit if the ground changes. Tenth, fill the lower drum halfway with water to keep it from collapsing under the weight of all the gravel. Place the remaining gravel over the trench and into the bottom drum, covering it completely. 11Lay landscape fabric over the top of the gravel. As a result, the dirt will not be able to seep into the gravel and you will be able to keep proper drainage on your tanks
- 12Fill the remaining trench area with soil, compacting it to the original grade. When you have finished filling up the area with your dirt, check to see that the ground is level. 13Fill the upper drum with water, leaving the top pipe from the first tank exposed so that you can readily reach the tanks if you need to drain them later. 14Fill the lower drum with water. Fill the top drum with water and pour it directly down the exposed pipes on the bottom drum. Continue filling the drum until it is completely filled, then secure the top with a cap to keep out the elements. Advertisement
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- Question What is considered a low level of use? Low consumption is defined as less than 125 gallons per day. Question Was the ‘y’ elbow on the first tank’s tank for any particular reason? Is it left open or sealed when it has been completed? Isn’t it going to stink if it’s left open? The clean out requires a threaded cap or plug, which is provided. Question What kind of water do you use to fill it? “Fill” is the most important term here. Continue to fill the drum with water until the level does not rise any more
- Question Suppose I neglected to attach a slip coupler to the perforated pipe and only had 10 feet of it. Is it still possible to use this? Yes, however you will need to raise the depth of the field in order to get the same cubic feet of capacity
- Nevertheless Question What is the best way to find out if something is legal in my state? This is a quick and easy approach that is unlikely to be appropriate for long-term usage in the majority of states. It is possible that the property owner and/or the installation will be penalized if this is uncovered. Question Is it possible to utilize two or three 275-gallon water totes instead, or a water tote and barrel combination? It doesn’t matter either direction you go. It’s best to utilize a single tote and a barrel as a digestion tank and a distribution box if you have only one tote. Question What is the purpose of filling the higher barrel with water? You fill the top barrel with water so that when sewage waste is introduced into the barrel, it flows into a sufficient amount of water to initiate the anaerobic digestion process. Question What is the best way to clean up this system? If there is enough bacteria in it, it will clean itself with minimal effort. If it starts to fill up, you may call a septic service to have it emptied
- If it doesn’t, you can do it yourself. Question What is the correct grade slope of the drain field for every ten feet of length of the drain field? It is possible for the field’s bottom to be level. When running away from the drums, the pipe system should be sloped at 2 percent, or 2.5 inches every 10 feet. Question Is it possible for this system to freeze in the winter? And might I use antifreeze in the mix as well? Antifreeze will destroy the beneficial bacteria that are required for the process to function properly. The process is biological, and it will generate some of its own heat as part of the process. It’s always possible to dig a little deeper to gain a little extra insulation above it.
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- The horizontal side of the “Y” links to the waste source, and it should be fitted with a connector that is compatible with the source supply line
- Instead of using a 90° elbow, you should join two of them together to produce a U-shaped connection. In this manner, the end that is in the first barrel will be pointed towards the bottom of the tank, rather than the top. This should be reinforced with a short segment of straight pipe that is several inches deeper towards the bottom. Solids either float or sink depending on their density. They don’t seem to congregate in the middle. As a result, only the broken down liquid waste makes it to the second tank, and the solids are never seen again. The same procedure should be followed for each of the drainage pipes that originate from the second barrel. Just to be completely certain that no solids find their way into the global drain field, the waste is dumped into the first tank, with the solids settling to the bottom of the first tank. Whenever the liquid level exceeds the outfall to the second tank, it is drained into the tank below it. If there are any solids present, they will sink to the bottom. Whenever the liquid from the second tank reaches one of the two outfalls, it is transported to the gravel leaching field for dispersion. Over time, the vast majority of the solids will liquefy and disperse. Solids may accumulate at the top of the tank after many years, necessitating the removal of the solids. Thirty percent of the waste is absorbed into the earth, with the remaining seventy percent being dissipated by sunshine. It is important not to compress the soil since this would interfere with the evaporation process
- The vertical side of the “Y” will be used to pump out the tank after it is entirely filled with solids
- The depth of the trench should be proportional to the depth of the waste source line. If the line is deeper or higher than the one depicted, you will need to dig the trench deeper or shallower to suit the new line depth or height. It’s not that difficult to find out. In the event that you have a septic system that is too shallow, it may be more susceptible to damage. After a period, you may discover that the ground has sunk below the trench’s location. Fill it in with extra dirt and compact it
- It is assumed that you are familiar with working with ABS plastic pipe. In addition, you must have the necessary tools to dig the trench (or be ready to put in a lot of effort).
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- This is a system with a relatively limited capacity. This is not intended to suit the demands of a big family or group of people. It is intended for use with a modest travel trailer and two individuals. In order to extend the life of this little septic system, it is recommended that you do not place anything else in it but water, trash, and toilet paper. You may have to pump the upper drum once or twice a year if you don’t do so. During the course of five years, the system depicted here will only require pumping twice. Do not drive through the area where the drums are located. When establishing a septic system, make sure to adhere to all applicable municipal regulations. It is against the law to establish a septic system without first obtaining a permission. In the permission, you can find information on the local regulations for installing a septic system. You should avoid situating a septic system too close to trees since tree roots will grow into your lines, block them, and eventually cause damage to your system.
Things You’ll Need
- 3/4 or 1 1/2 crushed rock or blue metal
- 80 square feet (7.4 m 2) of landscaping fabric
- 9 cubic yards (6.9 m3) of 3/4 or 1 1/2 crushed rock or blue metal 55 US gal (210 L) plastic drums
- 10 feet (3.0 m) of ABS plastic pipe with a diameter of 4 in (10 cm)
- 4 in (10 cm) ABS 90-degree bend
- 4 in (10 cm) ABS Y-bend
- 3 ABS 45-degree bends with sizes of 4 in (10 cm)
- 2 55 US gal (210 L) plastic drums A total of 40 feet (12 meters) of 4 inch (10 cm) perforated drain pipe
- Two 4 inch (10 cm) diameter drain pipe couplers
- And two toilet flanges with 4 inch (10 cm) diameters are included. PVC glue, two-part epoxy or silicone sealant, a level, and ten wood stakes are all required. 1 in (2.5 cm) thick wood block
- Duct tape
- 4 in (10 cm) ABS detachable cap
- 1 in (2.5 cm) thick wood block
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7th of July, 2020
Did you know?Your septic system is likely the most expensive appliance in your house!
Simple steps taken today will both save you headaches in the future and ensure that your system continues to function properly, allowing trash to be kept out of our waterways.
For Our Water
Septic systems that are not adequately maintained can discharge untreated or partially treated sewage into neighboring streams and rivers, as well as into groundwater. Waste that has not been handled poses a threat to human health and degrades the quality of water. Overabundance of fertilizers and fecal bacteria in Howard County’s streams has caused significant impairment. However, while the majority of Howard County’s Poor and Very Poor grade streams are concentrated in the densely urbanized districts of Ellicott City, Elkridge, and Columbia, there are a few others in Western Howard County that are classified as Very Poor, Poor, or Fair.
For Your Home
Septic systems that are not adequately maintained might experience early failure, resulting in sewage backups in the residence and sluggish drainfields. By taking care of your septic system today, you may reduce the likelihood of having to make a costly repair in the future, saving you money. Depending on the scope of the work required and whether or not there is a suitable place for a second drainfield, system repairs can cost upwards of $50,000. Maintaining the utility of an existing drainfield allows it to last for a longer period of time.
How does a Septic System Work?
Septic systems are decentralized sewage-treatment systems that play a vital role in making your house livable while also preserving the water quality in the surrounding area, according to the EPA. 1. You have flushed something down the toilet. It makes its way to the septic tank, where it sits and separates from the other waste. Essentially, septic systems work on the water in/water out principle; for example, when you flush a gallon of water down the pipes, a gallon of water travels into the drainfield.
- Hydraulic overload is one of the most prevalent causes of a septic system to fail before its expected time.
- A large amount of water applied at once causes the scum and sludge layers to get agitated.
- On the right is a tank that is regularly loaded.
- Precautions that you can take include:
- Pipes that are dripping or leaking should be repaired to avoid extra water from entering the sewage system. Water-saving fixtures should be installed in place of older models. Showers, loads of laundry, and dishwashing, for example, should be spaced out across time. Caution should be exercised while using water softeners, since they discharge enormous quantities of backwash into the septic tank. If you use a water softener, be sure your tank and drain field are both large enough.
Toilet paper and garbage decomposes within the tank’s interior. However, many objects that are labeled “flushable” are not, and will remain in the tank until they are removed manually. It is possible for your tank to become clogged if a large number of them accumulate. Precautions that you can take include:
- Items such as diapers, baby wipes, paper products other than toilet paper, cat litter, cigaretts, coffee grounds, feminine products, and kitchen garbage should not be flushed Do not use a garbage disposal because an excessive amount of organic waste produces an excessive amount of solids, which do not decompose in the septic tank. Using a garbage disposal will increase the frequency with which your tank will need to be pumped. Instead, consider creating a compost pile. Observe a regular maintenance plan and empty your tank as necessary. Solids that will not break down are removed from the tank by pumping it.
Inside the tank, there is naturally-occurring specialist bacteria that lives there and processes the waste, which is beneficial to the environment.
These live microorganisms are required by the septic system. Precautions that you can take include:
- It is possible to destroy these bacteria by using too much home cleaning or too much salt from a water softener. Flushing solvents, pesticides, herbicides, motor oil, antifreeze, or paint is not recommended.
Keep in mind that anything you flush will ultimately end up in your yard.
2. The wastewater leaves the tank and enters the drainfield.
Wastewater is channeled through perforated pipes that are embedded in the ground. Drainfields can take on a variety of shapes and sizes depending on the soil conditions; in general, they are planted under grass and put into gravelly pits. It’s in this location that wastewater is gently leached out into a yard, where soil continues to filter and clean the effluent. Drainfields rely on a precise balance between soil drainage capability and surface water runoff. Precautions that you can take include:
- Planting trees near a drainfield is not recommended since their roots are problematic. No vehicles should be driven over or parked on the drainfield (or septic system).
- The weight of your car might cause pipes to collapse and dirt to compress, resulting in decreased drainage.
- The formation of biomats surrounding the perforated pipes occurs when a drainfield matures, if an excessive amount of particles is pushed out into the field, or if the drainfield remains too moist. As wastewater is discharged from the septic tank, these biomats form patches of slime that inhibit the drainfield from adequately absorbing the effluent.
A regular schedule of maintenance and treating your septic system well will prolong its life for the betterment of your home and surrounding waterways!
Join us for a future webinar to learn more about the critical function that your septic system plays in making your house habitable while also conserving our waterways. Register today.
How Sewer and Septic Systems Work
Many residents in rural regions who live in close proximity to one another and where a sewer system would be too expensive to create opt to build their own private sewage treatment facilities. Septic tanks are what these are referred to as. It is a simple matter of digging up the yard and placing an enormous concrete or steel tank there to collect waste. The tank may have a capacity of 1,000 gallons (4,000 liters) of liquid. Wastewater enters the tank from one end and exits the tank from the other end of the tank.
- Anything that floats rises to the surface and produces a layer known as the scum layer on the surface of the water.
- In the middle, there is a layer of water that is relatively transparent.
- Wastewater enters the septic tank through the sewage lines in the home, as indicated in this illustration: Naturally occurring gases (generated by microorganisms breaking down the organic material in the wastewater) are produced by a septic tank, and these gases are not pleasant to smell.
- Instead, the gases rise through a vent pipe; if you look at the roof of any house, you will find one or more vent pipes sticking through.
- It is this water that drains from the septic tank and into the drain field.
Above is a schematic depicting an aerial perspective of a house, together with its septic tank, distribution box, and drain field: A typical drain field pipe has a diameter of 4 inches (10 centimeters) and is buried in a trench that is 4 to 6 feet (about 1.5 m) deep and 2 feet (0.6 m) broad, with a depth of 4 to 6 feet (about 1.5 m) and a width of 2 feet (0.6 m).
The amount of water that can be absorbed by the earth determines the size of the drain field.
In most cases, the only thing that powers a septic system is gravity.
It is a mechanism that is fully passive. “The grass is always greener on the other side of the septic tank,” you may have heard someone say. Actually, it’s the drain field, and the grass is indeed greener because it is taking use of the moisture and nutrients available in the drain field to thrive.
The 5 Biggest Questions Home Buyers Have About Septic Systems
Image courtesy of istockphoto.com The word “septic system” in a home ad is well-known for scaring away potential purchasers from the property. Some homebuyers may consider the system to be obsolete, expensive to fix, or difficult to keep up to date. Septic systems, on the other hand, do not have to be frightening. A septic tank and its accompanying parts may easily endure for decades if they have a good maintenance record and are properly inspected on a regular basis. Don’t instantly rule out an attractive property because it has this sort of system buried out back if you’re contemplating booking a viewing appointment.
Continue reading to learn more about septic systems, including how they function, common misunderstandings about them, how to maintain them, how to locate a septic system inspector, and indicators that a septic system is in danger of collapsing.
1. How do septic systems work?
Water that has been filtered by a septic system is called effluent. There are several components, including a big septic tank, distribution box, baffles, and a drainfield, all of which are buried below ground. Septic fields and leach fields are other names for the drainfield, which is a network of perforated pipes that extends out from the septic tank and allows filtered wastewater to be released back into the environment through the soil. The wastewater from your home, including that from toilets, sinks, showers, and appliances, is channeled out of the house and into the tank through the pipes.
The accumulation of particles over time offers a luxury home for helpful anaerobic bacteria, which work to break down the materials and release the grease, oil, and fats that have accumulated on the surface (the scum).
The residual wastewater (also known as effluent) runs via outlet pipes into a disposal bed or drainfield, where it is slowly and securely filtered by the earth, allowing it to be recycled.
2. What are common misconceptions about septic systems?
A lot of people have misconceptions (and even falsehoods) regarding septic systems, and this may make it difficult to decide whether or not to purchase a property that has one. Take a moment to put some popular myths and misconceptions in their proper perspective.
- A septic system is no longer used by most people. Actually, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), around 20% of homes are equipped with a septic system, or one in every five dwellings. Septic systems fail on a regular basis. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a septic system may survive up to 40 years—and possibly even longer—with proper maintenance. Septic systems have a foul odor. It is unlikely that an improperly managed septic system will release any unpleasant smells. An odor emanating from drains or the septic system itself indicates that there is a problem. A septic system has the potential to pollute a well. Installed correctly and maintained on a regular basis, a system will not cause contamination of a well on the property. To guarantee proper separation of drinking water and wastewater, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that the system be installed at least 50 feet away from a well. The septic system will be examined during a house inspection. A house inspection is often focused on the systems within the home, and as a result, it seldom includes more than a cursory examination of the septic system. Look for a professional that understands the workings of a septic system and how to do a comprehensive inspection in order to obtain a complete picture.
3. How do you maintain a septic system?
Septic systems require regular care and maintenance in order to function properly. The good news is that keeping a septic system in excellent working order is rather straightforward. Here’s how to keep it in proper functioning order.
- Take cautious with the information you submit over the system. Pouring anything down the toilet should be avoided at all costs. This includes things like paint and chemicals, kitty litter, coffee grinds, disposable wipes, diapers, and feminine products. These are all potential clog-makers in the septic system. It is best not to use any additives in the system. Additives may be classified into two categories, according to the National Small Flows Clearinghouse, which are chemical and biological. Despite the fact that these solutions are touted to accomplish anything from speed solids breakdown to enhance the condition of the drainfield, they typically cause havoc on the bacteria that are intended to keep the system running smoothly. Keep vehicles away from drainfields and never park or drive over them, since this might cause damage to the pipes. When planting shrubs or trees near a drainfield, use caution to avoid damaging the plants. The roots of some water-loving plants, such as weeping willows, can find their way into the drainfield, outlet pipes, or even the septic tank system itself. According to the Virginia Cooperative Extension, a fair rule of thumb is: if a tree will grow to be 25 feet tall, it should be kept at least 25 feet away from the drainfield
- If a tree will grow to be 25 feet tall, it should be kept at least 25 feet away from the drainfield
- Get your septic tank pumped out by a professional septic provider on average every two or three years. An further visual inspection of the component is often performed at the same time by a qualified specialist
- Call a specialist as soon as you see any signs of impending failure (as indicated below)! The sooner you contact, the less expensive a repair may be
Image courtesy of istockphoto.com
4. How do you find the best septic system inspector?
Once an offer on a home is made, the deal is nearly always subject on the outcome of a thorough inspection of the property, which includes an examination of the septic system. Important to remember is that what is stated on a seller’s disclosure form is not a substitute for a thorough inspection of the property being offered for sale. The average homeowner does not have the necessary knowledge or equipment to conduct a thorough inspection of the system. If there are concealed issues, it is possible that the homeowner will not be aware of them.
- One of the most common types of house inspection is a general home inspection, which evaluates the structure of the home, systems within it (such as plumbing and electricity), roof condition, and maybe some of the external features.
- As a result, always seek the services of a septic system specialist for an inspection.
- Your neighbors and real estate agent may be able to provide you with a few decent leads.
- To begin, contact each possible inspector and ask them about their approach to the task; for example, some may use cameras to evaluate the distribution box and drainfield, while others may dig to complete their inspection.
- Once the inspection has begun, the expert will search for pumping and maintenance records, examine for signs of leakage or backup, measure the levels of sludge and scum, and determine the age of the tank, among other things.
- Depending on whether or not the property includes extensions that were built after the septic tank was originally installed, an inspector may give recommendations to make the residence more sanitary.
For example, a two-bedroom home will require a tank of a different capacity than a three-bedroom home will. Image courtesy of istockphoto.com
5. What are the signs that a septic system needs to be replaced?
It is critical to notice the warning symptoms of impending failure before they manifest themselves. For the most part, failure of a septic system goes unnoticed at first. Keeping an eye out for warning indicators will help you arrange a replacement before something goes wrong.
- Gurgling noises coming from outside sewers
- Interior drains in bathtubs and sinks that are slow to drain
- Odors emanate from the sewage treatment plant, drainfield or inside drains of the house. There are wet places visible over the drainfield. Water is backing up into the home from the sewer line. Toilets are flushing more slowly
- This is a problem. A sudden and dramatic increase in the amount of lush and full vegetation over the drainfield might indicate a probable obstruction or break in the exit pipes outside.
Image courtesy of istockphoto.com
Septic systems, which are used in around 20% of homes in the United States, are designed to remove effluent from a residence. While septic systems may need a bit more maintenance than utilizing a public sewage system, they are not nearly as difficult to maintain as their reputation would have you believe. A well-maintained septic system may survive up to 40 years if it is inspected on a regular basis and kept on the lookout for indicators of potential problems. It is critical for homebuyers contemplating a property with a septic system to have the system inspected by a professional before making an offer.
FAQs About Septic Tanks and Septic Systems
When it comes to septic systems, there is a lot to understand. Even after reviewing the information provided above, you may still have concerns regarding how septic systems operate and how to properly manage them. Answers to some frequently asked questions concerning septic systems are provided here.
Q: How does a septic tank work?
When sewage is discharged into a septic tank, the solid stuff descends to the bottom, where it is colonized by helpful anaerobic bacteria, which work to break down the solids and liberate the lipids contained within them. The byproducts rise to the surface of the tank and are separated by a series of baffles.
Q: What are the three types of septic systems?
Traditional septic systems are classified into three types: chamber septic systems, drip distribution systems, and septic systems with chambers. In most cases, conventional systems are employed in residential buildings. Typically, a chamber system is used in high water table settings due to the fact that it is comprised of a succession of closed compartments. Drip systems are often less difficult to install, but they require more upkeep.
Q: How many years does a septic system last on average?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a well managed septic system may survive for 40 years. It is essential that you get the septic system evaluated before to purchasing a property so that you can get an estimate of how long the septic system is projected to operate.
Q: What is the alternative to a septic tank?
An aerobic treatment system, composting waste, and a drip system are all options for replacing a septic tank in a residential setting.
Q: What chemicals are bad for a septic tank?
The use of chemicals such as oil-based paint, paint thinners, lubricants, gasoline, weed killers, foaming cleansers, and chlorine-based cleaners can cause damage to your septic tank. They have the potential to pollute the surrounding environment as well as destroy the bacteria that are necessary for waste breakdown inside the septic tank, making it difficult or impossible for matter to degrade. Septic systems are well-understood by professionals. Link up with reputable professionals in your region and obtain free, no-obligation quotations for your project.+