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Everything You Need To Know About Home Septic System

If you reside in a rural area, a small community, or if you own a cottage, it’s most likely that you have a septic system.

A septic system is well used for sanitary purposes located underneath the ground. These systems eradicate the need for municipal sewers in many rural areas. A typical septic system holds every drop of water that goes down the drain. Septic systems consist of a tank, pipes, and billions of organisms to aid in processing your waste.

This blog will help you to understand almost everything about septic systems. Read on to learn more.

A worker installs a sewer manhole on a septic tank made of concrete rings on Simphome
A worker installs a sewer manhole on a septic tank made of concrete rings with construction of sewerage

How Does A Septic Work

An average septic system consists of four major parts: a pipe network from your house, a septic tank component, a drain field, and the soil to be used for treatment. The soil consists of microbes that digest or eradicate most contaminants from wastewaters before reaching the groundwater.

Pipes from your home discard all forms of wastewater and allow them to exit through a certain pipe. Then they’re directed towards the septic system.

A T-shaped outlet inside the septic tank and other chambers prevent the scum and sludge from exiting and traveling towards the drain field. Having screens are also recommended for the prevention of solids entering the drain field.

New technology septic tanks from and other similar businesses online come with risers and lids on the ground for easy inspection, pumping, and location.

Types Of Septic Systems

There are many types of septic systems homeowners can choose from. Here are the most common ones:

1. Septic Tank

A septic tank component is a buried watertight tank designed and constructed to collect and partially treat a household’s wastewater. Solid waste settles to the bottom of the septic tank while light waste floats to the top. The solid waste remains in the tank as the water exits to the drain field for further dispersal and treatment.

2. Mound Systems

Mound systems are ideal for areas with shallow soil depth, shallow bedrock, or high groundwater. A constructed sand mound has a drain field trench. Sewage that originated in the septic tank moves to a pump chamber and is then pumped to the mound in stipulated doses.

Treatment of the sewage as it discharges to the trench filters through the sand and then distributed into the native soil.

Though mound systems may be a good solution for certain soil conditions, they require considerable space and regular maintenance.

3. Aerobic Treatment Unit

Aerobic Treatment Units (ATUs) are like smaller versions of your local sewage facility. They introduce oxygen to the treatment tank component to increase the activity levels of microorganisms which ensures added treatment steps for nutrients to merge with the effluent.

Aerobic systems can be used in residences with inadequate soil conditions, smaller lots, areas with high water tables, or houses nearby protected water bodies.

4. Convectional System

A conventional system is a decentralized wastewater treatment system that comprises a septic tank and a trench. This type of septic system is ideal for a single-family home or business.

With conventional system design, sewage is piped to a shallow trench of stone or gravel from the septic tank chamber. Similar material is also placed on the trench to prevent sand, dirt, and other contaminants from entering the clean stone.

Sewage filters through the stone and then is treated further by microbes after reaching the soil under the stone trench or gravel.

5. Evapotranspiration System

The evapotranspiration system consists of different drain fields with their base enclosed with waterproof material. Once the liquid waste enters the drain field, it goes into the air as vapor. Contrary to other septic systems, the effluent doesn’t filter on the soil since it never goes to the groundwater.

How To Find Your Septic Tank

The first step into knowing the location of your septic tank is by finding your records. Currently, all septic approval paperwork should contain an ‘as built’ drawing for your home. It’s a line that accurately indicates the different buildings on your real estate land and is usually found in your area’s recordkeeper. If you have misplaced your copy of the paperwork, you can get one from your local regulatory agency.

If you don’t have an as-built drawing, locate the septic tank by determining where your sewer pipes exit the foundation. Try the same thing on the outside of your house. Then measure out five feet from your house. Using a blunt metal probe, identify your septic tank’s corners; this might take some time for it’ll depend on the depth of your tank.

During this procedure, ensure to exercise proper caution; if there’re gas pipes nearby, seek a licensed sewage hauler’s assistance in locating your septic tank.

How To Maintain Your Septic System

Maintaining your home’s septic system is the key to ensuring better performance. You can do so by considering the following steps:

1. Inspect And Pump It Frequently

To ensure that your septic system is in better condition, it’s advised to have it inspected once every three years and pumped by an expert as soon as it’s required. Alternative residential septic systems with electric pumps, float switches, and many more should be inspected at least yearly.

Your selected service provider should check whether there are leakages and inspect the septic tank’s sludge and scum layers. Remember to keep the records of the scum and sludge levels per your septic service company since this information can be helpful when deciding how frequent pumping is necessary.

2. Use Water Efficiently

A normal one-family home uses around 70 gallons of water per person each day. Toilets with leakages can easily add more to the water consumption. The greater amounts of water you use as a household, the more water ends in the septic. If you want to improve the operation of your septic system, ensure you use water efficiently. For efficient water use, invest in:

  • High-efficient toilets: Toilets use up to 30% of your household water. To solve the problem of your property’s septic system being flooded with household water, consider investing in high-efficient toilets. Compared to traditional toilets, newer toilets use less water.
  • High-efficient showerheads: High-efficient showerheads reduce the amount of water used, hence minimizing the volume of wastewater entering the septic. Their shower flow restrictors can reduce water use as well.
  • Water fixture: Make sure that your toilet’s reservoir isn’t leaking. You can determine whether your toilet is leaking by adding a few drops of food-safe coloring material to your toilet’s reservoir before going to bed; if you find the dye in the bowl the following day, the reservoir leaks and needs repair.

3. Keep An Eye On Your System’s Drains

Whatever goes down the septic’s drains impacts how well your residential septic system works. Ensure that you don’t flush items that can damage your septic system. You shouldn’t flush hygiene products such as sanitary towels, dental floss, cotton swabs, diapers, coffee grounds, paper towels, cigarette butts, among others.

4. Care For Your Drain Field

The following are ways how you can care for your drain field to help maintain your septic system:

  • Don’t put your car atop any component of your septic system. By doing so, you may damage the tank or other septic system parts;
  • Don’t plant trees or shrubs near your septic system to prevent their roots from damaging the drain field or clogging the system; and
  • Ensure other drains, such as rainwater drains are located far away from the drain field to avoid flooding it with excess water.

What Can Make A Septic System Fail

When the amount of wastewater flowing to the septic is too much than the system can handle, the wastewater may flow back up into the house or yard and pose a health danger.

You can easily identify when there’s a septic system concern if there’s a bad smell present and when you discover wastewater on the ground. However, by the time wastewater and the like have been spotted, the problem may already be escalating.

Some factors can also lead to the failure of your septic system. These include flushing household toxins such as paints, household cleaners, and garbage. Another aspect that can lead to the failure of your septic system is the use of a hot tub. While a hot tub is an ideal relaxing method, it may affect the quality of your system. Draining water from a hot tub into the septic system inadvertently stirs the solid waste inside the tank, pushing the solids out into the drain component which leads to clogging.

If your system is failing, ensure to call for septic system services providers so that they can determine the reason for failing and find a solution.


Each household requires a septic system to hold and treat its wastewater. A good septic system should be capable of treating wastewater hence preventing the outbreak of diseases. There are different kinds of septic systems to choose from when constructing one, but you need to work with professionals to help choose the best system for your area and household.

Nevertheless, a septic system should be inspected and pumped regularly to ensure it works efficiently. Avoid flushing objects that can clog the system and use water efficiently to avoid pumping too often.

Written by Simpson

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