is a natural method of treatment and disposal
of household wastes for homeowners who live in
an area where there is no municipal sewage disposal
system. It is estimated that there are about 30
million residences in the U.S. that fall into
this category. If your home has a septic system
it important for you to know something about how
it works. This often-overlooked part of your home
can be very expensive to repair or replace. A
little knowledge has the potential to save homeowners
thousands of dollars.
Although individual designs vary, a typical gravity
fed septic system is composed of three parts:
septic tank -- 2. distribution box -- 3. drain
field or leach field
and solids exit the home through toilets and drains
and end up in the septic tank. The function of
the septic tank is to separate solid material
from the wastewater. The solids are broken down
by naturally occurring bacteria that inhabit the
tanks usually contain two chambers. Scum is the
material, which floats on the top of the water
in the tank where aerobic (air breathing) bacteria
digest it. Sludge is undigested solid matter,
which settles to the bottom of the tank. Here
anaerobic bacteria digest some of the matter,
the undigested part must be removed periodically
by a licensed septic system pumping service. Effluent
is the clarified partially treated liquid portion,
which makes its way from the tank to the distribution
box where it is distributed to the various lateral
lines in the drain field.
typical drain field consists of several trenches
filled with gravel and a perforated pipe, which
sits near the top of the trench. Effluent flows
through these lateral lines and makes its way
into the soil through the perforations in the
pipe. Once in the soil the effluent is treated
further courtesy of the billions of anaerobic
bacteria living in the biomat. The biomat is a
tar like substance that forms on the sides and
bottom of drain field trenches. It acts to slow
down the passage of water to the soil allowing
a longer period of contact with the beneficial
bacteria living there the anaerobic bacteria feed
on nutrients contained in the effluent. This action
filters out viruses, harmful bacteria and parasites
before the effluent is returned to the water table.
treated water is full of nutrients and enriches
the earth. It benefits plant growth and helps
in maintaining healthy composition and structure
of the soil.
you know? Very little new water is ever created
on earth. All water is recycled, evaporating into
the atmosphere from the soil, rivers, lakes and
oceans and returning to earth as rain.
Septic tanks should be pumped by a licensed professional
pumping service every 2 to 5 years depending on
the size of the tank and the size of the family.
Check your local telephone book yellow pages for
a company in your area.
is an information packed web site, which
explains how septic systems work and how to restore
failing drain fields.