- In the early 1990’s, the tank is constructed without bottom slab below the tank. Due to seepage from Septic tank, the waste water is mixed with Fresh Water sump. To avoid this, the septic tank is cased up with the bottom slab.
What were septic tanks made of in the 1990s?
In the late 1990s, tanks started using 16” square concrete plugs with a lifting bail for easier access to both sides of the tank. Today, many tanks are fiberglass or plastic. Over time, concrete can deteriorate and the lids may develop cracks or even break.
How were old septic systems built?
Many of the first septic tanks were concrete tanks that were formed out of wood and poured in place in the ground and covered with a concrete lid or often some type of lumber. In the 1960s, precast concrete tanks became more prevalent as the standard of practice improved.
How does an old style septic tank work?
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 scum, composed of waste that’s lighter than water, floats on top.
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.
How long do septic tanks last?
A septic system’s lifespan should be anywhere from 15 to 40 years. How long the system lasts depends on a number of factors, including construction material, soil acidity, water table, maintenance practices, and several others.
What are old septic tanks made of?
Septic tanks are made from steel, concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene. Steel tanks tend to rust, have a shorter service life, and are only found in older systems. Concrete tanks are durable, but occasionally can crack and leak wastewater.
What were old septic tanks called?
This treatment chamber became known as the septic tank. Note that the septic tank has a baffle at each end to help keep waste in the tank. The original pit remained as the part of the system that returned “clarified” wastewater to the ground. It now became known as a drywell.
When were septic tanks developed?
This leads us to the very first septic tank, designed by French inventor Jean-louis Mouras in 1860, who believed that storing sewage before discharging it would be better than allowing it to seep into the surrounding land straight away.
What year was the septic tank invented?
The invention of the septic tank is credited to a Frenchman named Jean-Louis Mouras around 1860. He was determined to invent a system of waste disposal that prevented you from having to go outside. In essence, he ran clay pipes from his home to a concrete tank outside.
Are septic tanks always full of water?
A septic tank should always be “filled” to its normal liquid level, or the bottom of the outlet pipe which carries effluent to the absorption area. This normal liquid level is usually between 8” to 12” from the top of the tank on average (see picture at right).
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?
Does shower water go into septic tank?
From your house to the tank: Most, but not all, septic systems operate via gravity to the septic tank. Each time a toilet is flushed, water is turned on or you take a shower, the water and waste flows via gravity through the plumbing system in your house and ends up in the septic tank.
How do you build a septic tank?
What Can You Put Over a Septic Tank? The only things that can go directly over a septic tank are decks or pergolas that have footings more than five feet away from the tank. Other structures, like concrete slabs, foundations, and even shrubbery can seriously affect the health and effectiveness of the septic system.
Septic System Education – McCutcheon Enterprises, Inc. in PA
A septic tank is a waterproof tank that is constructed of a sturdy material that will not corrode or deteriorate over time. The majority of septic tanks are constructed of concrete. Tanks with two compartments became the standard in the 1990s. (However, one-compartment tanks that are fully working can still be considered appropriate.) In Pennsylvania, the majority of septic tanks are 1,000-gallon tanks. It is never recommended that you enter a septic tank. Septic tanks contain potentially harmful gases and should only be entered by specialists who have received sufficient training and are equipped with the appropriate oxygen breathing equipment.
It is the sinkable solids (such as soil, grit, and unconsumed food particles) that settle to the bottom of the tank and produce the sludge layer that causes the tank to back up and clog.
Effluent is the cleared wastewater that remains after the scum has floated to the top and the sludge has dropped to the bottom of a wastewater treatment plant.
It exits the tank through the outflow and enters the absorption region.
It includes drainfields (leachfield or disposal field), mounds, seepage bed, seepage pits, and cesspools.
Anaerobic bacteria that attach themselves to soil and rock particles and consume the organic stuff present in septic tank effluent make up this microbial community.
Anaerobic– does not require the presence of oxygen in order for microorganisms to survive.
TWO MAIN TYPES OF ON-LOT WASTEWATER TREATMENT SYSTEMS
Generally speaking, a septic tank is a waterproof tank constructed of a sturdy material that will not corrode or deteriorate over time. The majority of septic tanks are constructed of cement. Tanks with two compartments became the standard in the 1990s and beyond. While one-compartment tanks that are adequately working can still be considered acceptable, they are not recommended. There are 1,000-gallon septic tanks in the majority of homes in PA. Entering a septic tank is never advisable. It is recommended that only adequately trained experts with the appropriate oxygen breathing apparatus access septic tanks since they contain potentially harmful gases.
- It develops in the bottom of the tank because sludge is denser than water.
- Between the scum and the sludge comes a cleared liquid called scum water.
- Drainfields (leachfields or disposal fields), mounds, seepage bed, seepage pits, and cesspools are all examples of natural methods of purifying wastewater after it leaves a septic tank.
- Anaerobic microorganisms that attach themselves to soil and rock particles and devour the organic stuff present in septic tank effluent make up this bacterial community.
Air is required for the microbes to survive, which is why they are considered aerobic. Microorganisms may survive in an anaerobic environment since they do not require oxygen.
- This line permits wastewater to flow into the inlet baffle
- The inlet baffle drives water downward as it enters the tank, allowing particles to settle out more efficiently
- And the outlet baffle. Moreover, it prevents untreated effluent from skimming across the surface of the tank and escaping via the outflow. When it comes to the vast majority of scum and sludge layer formation, most of the sludge will settle to the bottom and the scum layer will build on top of it, with the water in the center. In the wall that separates the first compartment from the second compartment, there will be a hole or a pipe that will allow the water to pass through
The second compartment is made up of the following items:
- Baffle near the outlet, which stops the floating scum from migrating into the absorption region
- In order to prevent solid particles from attaching to and exiting the tank, a gas deflector is used to divert gas bubbles away from the outflow pipe and stops them from entering the absorption region. Filtering the wastewater inhibits and limits the flow of any suspended particulates in the effluent (see image at right). The effluent is sent to the absorption region through the outlet pipe.
5 Main Functions of a Septic Tank
Septic tanks are responsible for collecting all of the wastewater generated by the residence. Septic tanks are used to separate solid waste from wastewater flow. Septic tanks are responsible for the reduction and breakdown of solid waste. Septic tanks are used to store the sediments that have been removed from the liquid (sludge and scum). Septic tanks discharge the purified wastewater (effluent) to the absorption region, where it is absorbed. Tanks for Anaerobic Treatment (Previous Next) The use of an air compressor or a propeller to maintain an aerobic (oxygenated) atmosphere for the development of microorganisms is described as a mechanical system.
Comparing aerobic tanks to septic tanks, aerobic tanks have higher initial expenses and higher maintenance costs, but they break down sewage more effectively and produce higher-quality effluent with less particulates, which minimizes the likelihood of an absorption area being blocked.
OTHER TYPES OF ON-LOT WASTEWATER TREATMENT SYSTEMS
PITS FOR SEEPAGE A seepage pit is a deep hole that is 4-12 feet in diameter and 10-40 feet deep, with a porous-walled chamber in the center and a filling of gravel between the chamber and the surrounding soil on each side of the hole. Effluent from the septic tank enters the chamber and is temporarily kept there until it seeps out and onto the soil surrounding the chamber. These methods have grown less prevalent as time has progressed.
The cesspool is considered to be the first kind of a septic system. A cesspool is often a cylindrical hole in the ground that is several feet in diameter and many feet deep. The majority of them have a permeable inner wall made of stone, masonry, or other building materials. Gravel is used to cover the outside surface of the wall (the area between the stone wall and the outer soil wall). The top of the structure is covered with a concrete lid, and the earth is then backfilled on top of the lid.
- Following its passage through the stones and gravel-filled outer chamber, wastewater eventually finds its way into the earth.
- An on-lot septic system accounts for almost 20 million residences and, as a result, approximately 29 percent of the population of the United States.
- Please refer to the chart on the right for further information!
- We at McCutcheon Enterprises, Inc.
See the section below for some typical septic system misconceptions, as well as some Septic System Do’s and Don’ts to avoid. If you feel that there is an issue with your septic tank or septic system, please contact a professional.
ITEMS THAT SHOULDNOTBE PUT INTO A SEPTIC TANK
- Antifreeze or motor oil
- Paper towels or toilet tissue that hasn’t been approved by the FDA. Drain cleaners that are harsh or caustic
- Filters and buttes for cigarette smoking
- Laundry detergents with a lot of foam
- Plastic, bleach, eggshells, bones, and food scraps, as well as herbicides and pesticides, are all prohibited. Coffee grinds, cat litter, and excessive oils and grease are all examples of contaminants.
Common Septic System Do’s and Don’ts
- Maintain the cleanliness and integrity of your septic system on a regular basis. Garbage disposals should be used as little as possible or not at all. Garbage disposals introduce additional materials into the system that are difficult to break down in the septic system.
- Connecting roof drains and/or yard drains to your septic tank is not recommended. Due to the excess water, the tank and absorption area will be completely filled. Roots from trees in the absorption area will block the pipes in the region, thus avoid planting trees in the absorption area
- Putting vehicles and large things (such as swimming pools) on top of your septic tank or absorption area is not a good idea.
Myths about Septic Systems That You Should Know The use of yeast, buttermilk, or commercial items will eliminate the need to have my septic system pumped in the future. TRUE, no scientific research has been able to determine whether or not the use of these chemicals is beneficial to your septic system. It has been discovered, however, that these chemicals are detrimental to your septic system. The additives agitate the sediments in the septic tank, rather than letting them to float to the top or settle to the bottom of the tank as is the case with conventional methods.
- Once in the absorption region, they block the pipes and dirt pores as a result of the flushing process.
- It is recommended that I cleanse my septic tank with a lot of water if it is in poor condition.
- Floating the system will push the solids further into the absorption region, increasing the amount of damage that is done to the absorption area.
- TRUTH BE TOLD, this is a symptom that the effluent is most likely not going into the soil at the rate that it should be.
- INSPECTIONS OF SEPTIC TANKS What is included in a septic tank inspection and how long does it take?
- The following will be performed during the examination of your septic tank:
- Measure the amount of scum and sludge present and keep a record of it. In the majority of circumstances, you will need to pump empty your tank. The baffles in your tank should be checked to ensure that sediments are not leaving your tank. Cracks, leaks, and infiltration should all be looked for in the tank. Analyze the design and installation of the tank (this will allow you to check for any sensitivities or potential difficulties in the future)
The following items will be checked during the inspection of your absorption area:
- Observe for symptoms of a faulty system (such as foul smells, mushy areas, or effluent on the surface)
- And Surface water (which demonstrates inadequate filtering)
- Examine the effluent distribution to ensure good operation. Check the absorption area for possibly dangerous bushes, trees, or any other risks that may be present.
The inspector will draw up a report detailing the findings of the examination as well as information about your septic system. This report is not intended to provide a guarantee; rather, it is intended to tell you if your septic system is in proper or improper functioning condition at the time of the inspection. When should I have a home inspection performed on my property? Inspecting and maintaining your septic system should be done on a regular basis. An inspection of the septic system should take place every one to three years, according to industry standards.
- The inspection of the septic system before purchasing a home is strongly advised.
- After passing through the septic tank, the purified wastewater (effluent) will be sent into the soil absorption system for treatment.
- SEPTIC TANK DRAINFIELDThe drainfield is meant to release septic tank effluent below ground into the natural soil where it may be treated and eventually disposed.
- In order to spread the effluent over the length of the trench, a perforated pipe will be installed at or near the top of the gravel.
- Water will drain out of the septic tank through the output pipe and will continue to flow through a waterproof pipe to the drainfield trenches until it reaches the drainfields.
- Water will drain from the perforated pipes and through the gravel, where it will seep into the soil beneath and next to the perforated pipes.
- The cleaned liquid will ultimately evaporate, be absorbed by plants, or make its way into the groundwater.
- There is a layer of gravel covering the bottom of the pit, and several pipes are set on top of the gravel with a spacing of 3-5 feet between them.
- DistributionThe majority of traditional systems rely on gravity to transport effluent from the treatment tank to and through the absorption region, as shown in the diagram below.
- Asymmetrical effluent distribution results in an overburdening of the absorption region, which can lead to a variety of difficulties and high expenses in the long run.
- A distribution box is utilized in all trench systems, as well as certain bed systems, to split the flow in an equal amount.
Some systems need that the effluent be piped to the absorption region in order to function correctly. This occurs when the effluent cannot be transported to the absorption region by gravity alone, often because it must be pushed up a steep slope to reach the absorption area.
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.
- A variety of reasons might cause septic system design and size to differ significantly from one location to another, both inside and outside of your community. Household size, soil type, slope of the site, lot size, proximity to sensitive water bodies, weather conditions, and even municipal ordinances are all aspects to consider when making a home purchase. Septic systems come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and the following are the 10 most popular. There are a variety of additional types of septic systems not included in this list.
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.
This tank is subterranean and waterproof, and it was designed and built specifically for the purpose of receiving and treating raw home sanitary wastewater. Generally speaking, heavy materials settle at or near the bottom of the tank, whilst greases and lighter solids float to the top. In contrast, the wastewater is released to a drainfield for additional treatment and dispersion, while the sediments remain in the tank.
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, such as the chamber system, may be constructed using recycled materials and result in considerable reductions in carbon footprint. The chamber system is an example of a gravelless system.
- The key advantage of the chamber system is the enhanced simplicity with which it can be delivered and built.
- This type of system is comprised of a series of interconnected chambers.
- Wastewater is transported from the septic tank to the chambers through pipes.
- 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.
This method necessitates the use of additional components, such as electrical power, which results in a rise in costs as well as higher maintenance.
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. These systems perform effectively in shallow soil; but, if it rains or snows excessively, they are at risk of failing completely.
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
In certain cases, a decentralized wastewater treatment system is owned by a group of people and is responsible for collecting wastewater from two or more residences or buildings and transporting it to a treatment and dispersal system placed on a suitable location near the dwellings or buildings. Cluster systems are widespread in settings like rural subdivisions, where they may be found in large numbers.
Infographic: America’s Septic Systems
Nearly one-fifth of all residences in the United States are not linked to a municipal sewer system. More than 21 million households in the United States rely on septic systems to capture and filter their toilet waste, rather than using a public sewage system. Underground storage tanks are most prevalent in rural locations, particularly in New England and the Deep South. They are a significant cause of water contamination and disease spread that is frequently underestimated. The top map in the figure below depicts the proportion of residences in each state that are equipped with septic systems.
- Vermont takes the top spot on the list, with 55 percent of its residences on septic systems.
- Because there is no federal body that oversees septic systems, the United States Census Bureau, which gathered the data, discontinued collecting it for states and counties after 1990.
- Septic systems are still being used in the construction of many residences.
- The trend is consistent with historical geographic patterns: more than half of new residences in New England were not connected to a municipal sewage system in 2010.
- The biggest concentrations are found in New England, where septic systems are used by 55 percent of Vermonters, and the Southeast.
- To see a larger version of this photograph, click here.
If you want to get in touch with Brett Waltonor, you may follow him on Twitter at @waltonwater. She is a scientist and a journalist who holds an MS in Environmental Engineering from Michigan Technological University. She is also an expert in ESRI’s ArcGIS mapping program.
Where’s my septic tank?
There are a few solutions available if the previous homeowner failed to supply this critical information or if you have misplaced your original copy:
- There are a few choices available if the previous homeowner failed to supply this critical information or if you have misplaced your original copy.
- Number of the tax map
- Lot number
- Block number
- Address in the physical world
- When the system was installed or when the house was built (if this information is available)
- Name of the original permit holder (if any information is available)
- Name of the subdivision (if the property is located within a subdivision)
- You may also submit a request for a copy of the permission through our Freedom of Information office, although this is not mandatory. To obtain a copy through the Freedom of Information Office, please complete and submit a copy of the DHEC FOI form. Instructions are given with the application. If feasible, please include the information about the property that is stated above. When looking around your yard, search for manhole covers or lids that have been buried by grass or leaves if your house was constructed before 1990.
Septic Tank Alerts Septic Tank Alerts
Septic System Owner’s Guide
What kind of computer system do you have? In North Carolina, there are many distinct types of septic systems in use, but the vast majority of the over 2 million systems in use throughout the state are minor variations of the typical septic system. This system includes a septic tank as well as a drainfield that is filled with gravel (usually two to six trenches). Since the mid- to late-1990s, classic gravel aggregate trenches have been phased out in favor of innovative gravel-less trench designs, which have become increasingly popular.
- Some of the most often used gravel-free trenches nowadays are either long and narrow, tunnel-shaped chambers in the trenche, or gravel replacements such as expanded polystyrene aggregate.
- A booklet from the Cooperative Extension Service, AG-439-13, Septic Systems and Their Maintenance, outlines the typical system, easy adjustments to it, and the most significant maintenance requirements.
- The application of these technologies is now widespread, whether in new housing projects or in the replacement or repair of malfunctioning septic systems in residences and businesses.
- In order to address this, state regulations provide specified maintenance requirements for a number of these more advanced technology.
- Furthermore, state regulations mandate that the health department examine these systems on a regular basis.
- Are you familiar with the location of your septic system and repair area?
- If you do not have a copy of your septic system permit or a soil evaluation document, contact your local health department.
This Septic System Owner’s Guidefile folder should contain the following items: It is normally possible to establish the location of a septic tank and drainfield by looking at a copy of the permit and consulting with a septic contractor, a consultant, or the local health department A “repair area or replacement area,” in which a second drainfield might be constructed if necessary, has been required on nearly all home sites approved since the early 1980s, according to state law.
It should be noted on your septic system permit that this repair area was designated by the health department when the site was allowed.
Some Important Facts to Understand About Your Septic System
- In what form of septic system do you have
- Where is it situated
- And where is the repair area situated? Is the septic system up and running? In the past, has it been kept up to date? What can you do on a day-to-day basis to ensure that your system continues to function properly? What kind of maintenance will be required in the future
On the grid labeledSeptic System Layout, draw a rough sketch of your home, septic system (including both the tank and drainfield), repair area, and any other essential features (such as your driveway). The distance between the home and the access port on the septic tank should be measured and recorded when having your septic tank drained. This will assist you in locating it again. You may also want to indicate the position of your tank as well as the limits of your drainfield in your yard. If you do not have a riser installed over the access port for your septic tank, you may want to consider having one put in.
- Even when properly maintained, septic tanks can contain harmful gases and pollutants, as well as bacteria and other germs that can cause major health problems if not addressed.
- Is your septic system in proper functioning order?
- Many individuals are unaware that untreated sewage that has accumulated on the surface of the ground might be a health threat.
- Before fixing a malfunctioning septic system, you must get a permit from the local health authority, according to state regulations.
- What kind of upkeep has been carried out?
- If you are purchasing an existing house, you should ask the seller a few critical questions, such as the following:
- What is the age of the system
- What is the location of the tank and drainfield (they may or may not be on the same property or even on the same parcel of land)
- When was the last time the tank was pumped
- What is the frequency with which it has been pushed
- Is it necessary to clean the “effluent filter” in the septic tank on a regular basis (effluent filters are required for systems established after 1999)
- Has there been any indication of a likely failure? In what location can I get a copy of the permit and documentation proving how effectively (or poorly) the system has been maintained
- Do you know whether any improvements have been made to the house that would necessitate expanding the capacity of the system? Is the system still operational, and if so, when and by whom was it repaired?
If the house has only recently been constructed, request that the septic system contractor give you with a “as built” schematic, which may include elements that were not included in the permit. If the house is equipped with a pump, request that the contractor and the local health agency supply specifics on how the pump was initially installed. In order to properly care for your septic system, you must manage it on a day-to-day basis as well as perform periodic maintenance and repairs. Layout of a septic system.
- However, the drainfield does not have an indefinite capacity. The average daily water use per person is 50 gallons. Even for brief periods of time, the soil drainfield has a maximum daily design capacity of 120 gallons per bedroom, which is routinely exceeded. Overloads can occur at any time of year, on a daily basis, or on weekends. Fix any leaky faucets or toilets you may have. Water conservation will help you get more use out of your system.
Keep waste disposal to sewage alone.
- Sewage should be used for disposal only.
Ensure that the system is protected against physical harm (site maintenance).
- Maintain a layer of plants on the soil over the drainfield to prevent soil erosion from occurring. Don’t drive your car above the system’s limits. Try to avoid building over the system or in the repair area. The natural shape of the terrain immediately downslope of the system should be preserved, and this region should be protected against excavation (cutting and filling). Neither asphalt nor concrete should be used to cover the tank or drainfield.
All wastewater should be disposed of in a system that has been authorized.
- You shouldn’t install a separate pipe to transport washwater to a side ditch or into the woods. This is against the law
The house and the yard (site maintenance)
- Conserve and preserve the area where your septic tank and drainfield are located
- Trees that thrive in moist environments should be cut down and removed. Willows, elms, sweetgums, and certain maples are examples of such trees. Surface water should be diverted away from the tank and drainfield by landscaping the yard. Inspect the system to make sure that water from the roof, gutter, and foundation drains does not overflow
- It is recommended that if your system is located at the base of a slope, you build a french drain to channel subterranean water. Ensure that drainage ditches, subsurface tiles, and drainage outlets are kept in good condition so that water may readily flow from them.
Sewage treatment system (Septic tank)
- Tanks should be elevated if they are 6 inches or deeper below the surface. They offer quick and convenient access for solids measurement and pumping, as well as for cleaning the effluent filter. The rate at which sludge and scum build in the tank is measured. Make a note of this information and provide it to your expert pumper. Solids should be pushed out of the tank as necessary. Most septic tanks have two sections
- It is necessary to have them drained out. More information about pumping frequency can be found in the Cooperative Extension Service document AG-439-13, Septic Systems and Their Maintenance, which is available online. It is not necessary to wait till your drainfield collapses before having your tank pumped. By that time, the drainfield may have been completely destroyed. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to septic systems.
|Preventive Maintenance Record|
|Your Septic System Installer|
|Date System Installed:|
- If sewage is backing up into your toilets, tubs, or sinks, call a plumber. Slowly draining fittings, especially after it has rained
- Slow-draining fixtures A foul odor associated with damp soil or sewage dumped onto the ground or into neighboring ditches or wooded areas
- Please keep in mind that sewage from pump systems may rise to the surface of the ground when the pump is switched on and then disappear when the pump is turned off. This is still a failure of the system, and it must be fixed. a red light blinking or beeping in the home or in the yard, signaling that a pump is not functioning correctly or that the water level in a pump tank is excessive and on the verge of failing
- A rise in the number of diseases or illnesses related with swimming in nearby lakes or rivers
Regulations and safeguards are necessary.
- Any system that includes a pump should be operated by a state-certified subsurface system operator. In the case of low pressure pipe (LPP) systems erected or repaired after July 1, 1992, as well as underground drip irrigation systems, aerobic treatment units (ATUs), peat biofilters, sand biofilters, textile biofilters, and other sophisticated systems, a permit will be required by law. Those interested in obtaining a list of state-certified subsurface system operators should contact the North Carolina Water Pollution Control System Certification Commission at 919-707-9089. Between planned maintenance visits, check to see that the pump and electrical components are still in proper operating order. Germs found in sewage have the potential to cause disease. Never go into a septic tank unless absolutely necessary. Toxic and explosive gases are present in the tank, posing a threat. Tanks that are more than a decade old may collapse. Electrical controls provide a risk of electric shock and sparking. Children should not be able to open the septic tank lid, hence it should be secured. Do not attempt to repair a malfunctioning system on your own time. Obtain a repair permit and employ a contractor with extensive expertise
For further information about septic systems, speak with an Extension agent in your county or the local public health agency. This paper is an updated version of a previous publication. It is with gratitude that we acknowledge Tom Konsler (Orange County Health Department), Deanna Osmond, Mitch Woodward, and Grace Lawrence (North Carolina Cooperative Extension) for their contributions to the document’s peer review, as well as Debra Ireland for her work on the document’s graphic design, layout, and editing.
Discrimination and harassment are prohibited at North Carolina Cooperative Extension, regardless of age, color, handicap, family and marital status, gender identity, national origin, political opinions, racism, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, or veteran status.
How Does a Septic Tank Work?
Mr. Fix-It-Up-For-The-Family You may save a lot of money if you understand how a sewage treatment system works—and what can go wrong—so that you can handle your own septic system maintenance.
How does a septic tank work?
Pumping the tank on a regular basis eliminates sludge and scum, which helps to keep a septic system in good working order. It is possible for a well-designed and well built septic system to last for decades, or it might collapse in a matter of years. It is entirely up to you as long as you can answer the question of how do septic tanks function. Healthy septic systems are very inexpensive to maintain, but digging up and replacing a septic system that has completely collapsed may easily cost tens of thousands in labor and material costs.
It’s critical to understand how a septic tank works in order to maintain one.
Let’s take a look below ground and observe what happens in a properly operating septic system, shall we?
Understand that a septic system is a cafeteria for bacteria
Bacteria are responsible for the proper operation of a septic system. They decompose garbage, resulting in water that is clean enough to safely trickle down into the earth’s surface. The entire system is set up to keep bacteria healthy and busy at all times. Some of them reside in the tank, but the majority of them are found in the drain field. 1. The septic tank is the final destination for all waste. 2. The majority of the tank is filled with watery waste, referred to as “effluent.” Anaerobic bacteria begin to break down the organic matter in the effluent as soon as it enters the system.
- A layer of sludge settles to the bottom of the container.
- Scum is mostly constituted of fats, greases, and oils, among other substances.
- Grease and oils float to the surface of the water.
- (5) A filter stops the majority of particles from reaching the exit pipe.
- The effluent is discharged into the drain field.
- Effluent is allowed to leak into the surrounding gravel because of holes in the drain septic field pipe.
- The garbage is completely decomposed by aerobic bacteria found in gravel and dirt.
- Potable water seeps into the groundwater and aquifer system from the surface.
Septic Tank Clean Out: Don’t abuse the system
Septic systems that have been correctly planned and constructed require just occasional ‘pumping’ to remove the sludge and scum that has built up inside the tank.
However, if you don’t understand how a septic tank works, you may unintentionally hurt or even destroy the system.
- Drains are used to dispose of waste that decomposes slowly (or not at all). Cigarette butts, diapers, and coffee grounds are all known to cause issues. Garbage disposers, if utilized excessively, can introduce an excessive amount of solid waste into the system. Lint from synthetic fibers is emitted from washing machine lint traps. This substance is not degraded by bacteria in the tank and drain septic field. Bacteria are killed by chemicals found in the home, such as disinfecting cleansers and antibacterial soaps. The majority of systems are capable of withstanding limited usage of these goods, but the less you use them, the better. When a large amount of wastewater is produced in a short period of time, the tank is flushed away too quickly. When there is too much sludge, bacteria’s capacity to break down waste is reduced. Sludge can also overflow into the drain field if there is too much of it. Sludge or scum obstructs the flow of water via a pipe. It is possible for tree and shrub roots to obstruct and cause harm to a drain field. Compacted soil and gravel prevent wastewater from seeping into the ground and deprive germs of oxygen. Most of the time, this is caused by vehicles driving or parking on the drain field.
Get your tank pumped…
Your tank must be emptied on a regular basis by a professional. Pumping eliminates the accumulation of sludge and scum that has accumulated in the tank, which has caused the bacterial action to be slowed. If you have a large tank, it may be necessary to pump it once a year; but, depending on the size of your tank and the quantity of waste you send through the system, you may go two or three years between pumpings. Inquire with your inspector about an approximate guideline for how frequently your tank should be pumped.
…but don’t hire a pumper until you need it
Inspections and pumping should be performed on a regular basis. However, if you’re not afraid of getting your hands dirty, you may verify the sludge level yourself with a gadget known as The Sludge Judge. It ranges in price from $100 to $125 and is commonly accessible on the internet. Once you’ve verified that your tank is one-third full with sludge, you should contact a professional to come out and pump it out completely.
Install an effluent filter in your septic system
Garbage from your home accumulates into three distinct strata. The septic filter is responsible for preventing blockage of the drain field pipes.
Septic tank filter close-up
The septic tank filter is responsible for capturing suspended particles that may otherwise block the drain field pipes. Obtain an effluent filter for your tank from your contractor and place it on the outflow pipe of your tank. (It will most likely cost between $50 and $100, plus labor.) This device, which helps to prevent sediments from entering the drain field, will need to be cleaned out on a regular basis by a contractor to maintain its effectiveness.
Solution for a clogged septic system
If your septic system becomes clogged and you find yourself having to clean the filter on a regular basis, you might be tempted to simply remove the filter altogether. Hold on to it. Solids, wastewater, and scum are separated into three levels in septic tanks, which allows them to function properly (see illustration above). Solids sink to the bottom of the container, where microbes breakdown them. The scum, which is made up of trash that is lighter than water, rises to the surface. In the drainage field, the middle layer of effluent leaves the tank and goes through an underground network of perforated pipes to the drainage field.
- Keep the effluent filter in place since it is required by your state’s health law.
- Waste particles might flow through the filter and clog the perforated pipes if the filter is not used.
- Your filter, on the other hand, should not require cleaning every six months.
- A good chance is high that you’re flushing filter-clogging things down the toilet, such as grease, fat, or food scraps.
- A garbage disposal will not be able to break down food particles sufficiently to allow them to flow through the septic tank filtration system.
- Plastic items, disposable diapers, paper towels, nonbiodegradable goods, and tobacco products will clog the system if they are flushed through it.
For additional information on what should and should not be flushed down the toilet, contact your local health authority. More information on removing lint from your laundry may be found here.
Get an inspection
Following a comprehensive first check performed by an expert, regular inspections will cost less than $100 each inspection for the next year. Your professional will be able to inform you how often you should get your system inspected as well as how a septic tank functions. As straightforward as a septic system appears, determining its overall condition necessitates the services of a professional. There are a plethora of contractors who would gladly pump the sludge out of your tank, but many, in my experience, are unable to explain how a septic system works or how it should be maintained.
A certification scheme for septic contractors has been established in certain states; check with your state’s Secretary of State’s office to see whether yours is one of them.
Also, a qualified inspector will be able to tell you whether or not your tank is large enough to accommodate your household’s needs, as well as the maximum amount of water that can be passed through it in a single day.
As you learn more about how a septic tank works, your professional should be able to tell you whether or not your system will benefit from this treatment.
Alternatives to a new drain field
If an examination or a sewage backup indicate that your drain field is in need of replacement, the only option is to replace it completely. As a result, it’s important to talk with a contractor about other possibilities before proceeding with the project.
- If an examination or a sewage backup indicate that your drain field is in need of replacement, the only option is to replace it completely. A contractor should be consulted about alternative possibilities because the costs might be quite expensive.
Protect your drain septic field from lint
If an examination or a sewage backup indicate that your drain field is in need of replacement, the only option is to replace it entirely. As a result, it’s important to examine alternative possibilities with a contractor before proceeding.
Don’t overload the septic system
Reduce the amount of water you use. The volume of water that flows into your tank, particularly over a short period of time, can be reduced to avoid untreated waste from being flushed into your drain field. Replace outdated toilets with low-flow ones, install low-flow showerheads, and, perhaps most importantly, wash laundry throughout the week rather than just on Saturday mornings to save water.
Meet the Expert
Septic systems, according to Jim vonMeier, are the solution to America’s water deficit because they supply cleaned water to depleted aquifers, according to vonMeier. He travels the country lobbying for septic systems, giving lectures, and giving testimony. For septic system inquiries, as well as information on the operation of the septic tank, contact him by email.
How Long Will A Septic System Last?
Q:We recently purchased a home that had a septic system that was 20 years old. It’s a simple gravity system with a leach field at its heart. We had the system evaluated before purchasing it, and the inspectors stated that everything “appeared to be in good working order.” The vendors did not keep track of how many times they pumped the tank, although they claimed to have done it “a few times.” How long do you think we’ll be able to get out of this system before it needs maintenance or replacement?
— John et al.
Typical life spans in the business are 20 to 30 years for systems that have been adequately planned and built, have been well-maintained, and have not been overburdened with data.
I just had a conversation about this with a sanitary engineer who has been designing septic systems for more than four decades.
He has also encountered systems that have lasted 40 or more years, although they are the exception rather than the rule. During his presentation, he stressed that it is difficult to forecast the longevity of a single system. There are just too many factors to consider.
Don’t Forget Maintenance
Typically, the leach field is the first component to fail in a septic system system (drain field). The drain field is calculated based on the number of bedrooms in the house, with two persons sharing each bedroom. As a result, a three-bedroom drain field may accommodate up to six people. All else being equal, a drain field that receives little traffic will outlive one that receives a lot of traffic. In the case of a three-bedroom system, if only two people use it, low-flow fixtures and appliances are used, and the system is pumped on a regular basis, it should last for many years.
- Chemicals, grease, and food scraps that are flushed down the toilet will reduce the life of the system.
- The septic tank is the other main component of the system.
- Steel tanks often fail after 20 to 30 years, however high-quality plastic tanks can endure for 30 to 40 years with proper care.
- The lifespan of a system is influenced by a variety of factors.
- Others, like as proper care and upkeep, are completely within the hands of the homeowner.
- Routine pumping, household water conservation, and paying attention to what they flush down the drain — no harsh chemicals, paints, grease, food scraps, or other solids — are the most critical aspects that the homeowner can manage.
- Drainage of yard and roof water away from the drain field is necessary to prevent the soil from becoming saturated.
- Maintain a safe distance between trees and big bushes, as the roots of these plants might block the perforated drain pipes.
The leach field is frequently the first component of a septic system to fail (drain field). Based on the number of bedrooms in the house and the assumption of two persons per bedroom, the drain field is designed appropriately. The drain field is therefore large enough to accommodate six persons in three bedrooms. A drain field that is only rarely utilized will outlive one that is heavily used, if all other factors are equal. If just two people use a three-bedroom system, they should utilize low-flow fixtures and appliances, and they should pump the system on a regular basis.
- Chemicals, grease, and food scraps flushed down the toilet will reduce the lifespan of the system.
- In addition, the septic tank is an important component.
- Steel tanks often fail after 20 to 30 years, however high-quality plastic tanks can endure for 30 to 40 years with proper maintenance.
- The lifespan of a system is influenced by a variety of elements, as follows: Others, such as system design and installation, as well as soil type, are out of your hands entirely.
- Maintenance and upkeep of your system can extend its service life by many years or even decades if performed properly.
- Protecting the drain field region from damage is also very important for safety reasons.
- Drive or park over the field, or use it in any way that would compact the soil, is strictly prohibited!
Maintain a safe distance between trees and big bushes, as the roots of these plants have the potential to block the perforated drainage pipes. For ground cover, grass is the most effective material to use.
New Perc Test?
The majority of municipalities will require that you perform a fresh perc test and an in-hole test before they will issue a permit to replace your present leach field or full septic system. If a site has already passed the perc test, it is likely that it will pass again in the future. The opposite is sometimes true because site circumstances (for example, a higher water table) may have altered, or the town’s test processes and requirements may have changed. It’s possible that you’ll need to upgrade to a more expensive form of “alternative” septic system than the one you started with.
– BuildingAdvisor.com’s Steve Bliss says Continue reading about Septic System Maintenance.
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