Over 24 million homeowners in the U.S. use septic tanks, but many people still know very little about them or how they work. Broadly speaking, septic tanks are used to dispose domestic wastewater through an onsite, unsewered system. What exactly does “unsewered” mean? Basically, unsewered wastewater treatment and disposal systems are maintained by the homeowner, as opposed to the local municipality. “Why would anyone want to maintain their own sewer system?”, you may be asking. Typically, it has to do with where the home is located. Houses in rural areas, for instance, are often not able to access city sewer systems, and therefore need to dispose of and treat wastewater in another way. Keep reading for everything you need to know about septic tanks, courtesy of our expert plumbers at EnviroSafe.
Septic Systems 101
The average septic system is comprised of two main parts—the tank itself, and the area where the wastewater is eventually transferred to, called the absorption field. Some septic systems also have a component called a distribution box, which is used to separate the wastewater evenly into the distribution lines that make up the absorption field. The septic tank itself is generally constructed from tough concrete or fiberglass and is located underground. Most septic tanks are designed to hold a at least 750-to-1,800 gallons of sewage, though the size of the system can vary depending on factors like the size of your household, the part of the country you live in, and various municipal regulations.
The main function of a septic tank is to separate solids and liquids, thereby creating a partial breakdown of contaminants that may contain dangerous microorganisms that live in wastewater. Solid waste collects at the bottom of the tank, with a layer of scum floating to the top of the liquid. Eventually, the liquid wastewater passes through the distribution box and/or absorption field, where it is eventually absorbed by the soil.
If you are thinking about installing a septic tank, this is what you need to know:
- All wastewater from your house should go to the septic tank, while graywater (water from, tubs, showers, and washing machines) should go to a different disposal field.
- Roof drains, basement drains, and any other drains where rainwater comes out of should be directed away from the absorption field. Flooding the field with excess water can lead to pollution in nearby soil and groundwater.
- For best septic system performance, fix leaks, use low-flowing toilets, and conserve water where you can.
- Do not use commercial septic tank cleaners and other over-the-counter products in your tank, as they are not necessary and can actually damage the system.
- Make sure backwash from any water softeners does not enter your septic tank.
- Do not put any garbage or harmful chemicals in your septic tank—it should be used for disposing of wastewater ONLY.
- Keep track of when your septic tank has last had maintenance and stay up to date with city ordinances regarding septic systems.
- Get your system inspected every 3-5 years and pumped every 5-7 years.
- Always know where your septic tank is located.
- Don’t plant anything but grass above your septic system, as trees and other vegetation may lead to root intrusion.
- Do not drive or park anywhere over your septic system.
Call EnviroSafe for Septic Service Today!
At EnviroSafe, we offer expert septic system service, designed to keep your tank and absorption field working for years to come. We can provide repairs for overflowing, root intrusion, leaks, clogging, corrosion, and pipe collapses. We also perform septic system inspections, so you always know what condition your equipment is in. And with septic tank replacements at a great price, EnviroSafe is your go-to company for all things septic.