Everything You Want To Know About Septic Systems (and Then Some)
Many homes that do not have access to public sewer systems rely on private septic systems to get rid of wastewater. If you have a septic system or are considering buying a house with one, this guide will help you better understand how they work.
Septic Systems Are More Than a Tank in the Ground
Septic systems are often referred to as septic tanks. However, the tank is only one component of the complete system. In addition to the tank, you probably also have a pump tank and drain field. The full size of the system depends on how many bathrooms it supports. The University of Maryland Extension provides some great diagrams explaining these components.
All Household Drains Empty Into the System
In most places, it is against regulations to bypass the septic system and pipe drains directly outside. Because of that, virtually every drain in your home and outbuildings empties into the tank. It’s good to keep that in mind before you put questionable items into the drains. For example, certain items can cause a clog and harsh chemicals will eventually end up in your groundwater.
Liquids Drain From the Tank, Solids Do Not
Many people who rely on a septic system understand that liquids drain out into a drain field where it is filtered by the surrounding soil before reentering the water table. However, it may not cross their minds that the solids do not leave the tank. In most systems, they are trapped behind a baffle where they remain until they either decompose or fill the tank and cause it to fail. Scheduling a septic tank draining service every couple of years can help you avoid this possibility.
Septic systems are designed to handle normal household wastewater. They have several components in addition to the tank. Liquids leave the tank and enter the groundwater, while solids must be pumped out to avoid backups.