Septic System Basics 101

Septic systems as we know them have been around since around the 1800’s and maybe as far back as the Romans era. Today virtually 25% of all households in America use on site waste water septic systems to filter waste generated by the residence. These individual septic systems are usually located in rural areas of the country where city sewer systems are not available or would be too expensive and in practical to install septic system drain lines connecting rural residence to city waste water facilities.

There are several types of systems available on the market today including, gravity fed systems, pressure septic systems, mound type septic systems and sand filter septic systems. The most common onsite septic systems are the standard concrete septic tank and drain field system. This type of septic system is usually made up of a concrete 1000 gallon septic tank and a drain field consisting of a gravel stone bed and perforated schedule 40 PVC pipe. This type of septic system is very basic and considered a gravity fed type system.

Septic systems use a process referred to as digestion. Bacteria enzyme produced by the human body work to reduce or eliminate toxic gas odors and break down organic solids matter into effluent before they migrate into the drain field and leach into the ground. Natural bacteria found in the soli will complete the digestion process before returning the water or filtered effluent back to the water table.

There are a few factors to consider in choosing and determine the size and scope of a septic tank system and drain field. The first factor to consider is the ground or soil absorption rate. The local sewer inspector or engineer will performed a perk test that will measure the rate at which the water is absorbed into the ground. If the water drains slowly during the perk test, then the septic system and drain field will be larger to accommodate for the slow leaching rate. The second is the number of bedrooms and the square foot of the home. Every municipality has their own set of regulations and standards that home owners and builders must comply with. Check with your local sewer authority for a complete list of rules and regulations regulating your municipality.

Performing septic system maintenance on your septic tank and drain field is crucial if you want to maintain optimum performance with your septic system. Have your septic tank pumped and inspected every two to four years. Septic tank additives with beneficial bacteria enzyme will help to offset the use of anti-bacterial hand soaps, chemicals and soaps containing phosphorus commonly used in most households. This will reduce the possibility of septic system failure and ensuring a healthy septic system, ensuring the home owner years of problem free service.