How Septic Systems Work

Septic systems are used commonly in geographic areas that lack connection to main sewage pipes, usually provided by local governments. Septic systems are found often in more rural areas, small towns, and suburbs not usually in cities or heavily condensed and populated areas.

A septic system includes a septic tank and a clarified liquid disposal method such as a septic drainage field, also called a leach field. A septic tank is a large, water tight container that sits below ground and connects to the building/ homes sewer line. At Pro Rooter and Septic, we install septic systems using concrete septic tanks which tend to last the longest in comparison to plastic or some other commonly used tank materials. Septic tanks hold a minimum of eight hundred gallons of liquid and the volume of your tank depends on the number of bathrooms there are in residential or commercial buildings. One end of the tank connects to an inlet wastewater pipe and the other to a septic drain field or leach field. The design of modern tanks incorporates two chambers, each equipped with a manhole cover, and separated by a dividing wall with openings located midway between the floor and the roof of the septic tank (pictured).

septic systemsRaw wastewater from bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry flows into the first chamber of the septic tank where solids naturally separate from the liquids. The solids settle at the bottom of the septic tank and are slowly and naturally digested by bacteria which reduces the amount of solids. The liquid waste flows into the second chamber of the dividing wall where further settlement takes place. The excess liquid wastewater (which at this point of the process is relatively clear) then drains into the drainage field. Further treatment of the liquid wastewater occurs in the ground soil underneath the septic drainage field. The drainage field consists of perforated, long, underground pipes connected to the septic tank. This underground network of piping is laid in beds in the soil, or in trenches usually filled with porous rocks or gravel hidden from view underneath the soil. The wastewater flows out of the septic tank and into the piping system where it is evenly distributed into the soil. The type of leach or drain field required is dependent on soil conditions and estimated amount of wastewater flow.

septic systems The heavier solids settle where they are gradually decomposed by bacteria but time and usage will result in non-decomposed waste that creates a thick and heavy sludge. This sludge that is not decomposed by the natural bacterial must eventually be removed from the septic tank or else the septic tank fills up and wastewater containing undecomposed material flows directly to the drainage field. Not only is this bad for the environment but, if the waste overflows the septic tank into the leach field it could clog the leach fields piping or reduce the soil porosity itself, requiring expensive repairs. We highly suggest proper maintenance which requires a septic tank pumping or septic tank cleaning every 2-3 years to avoid problems.