If you have a septic system, you may have wondered how it works. In those areas where the local government does not provide sewage treatment, individual home owners need to provide their own sewage treatment and this is done with a system based on a septic tank. The system has three main parts and each component provides an important piece in the waste treatment puzzle.
The first component of the system is the tank. This is a rather large tank that is buried a short distance from the house. When you flush your toilet or empty the sink, the water and waste flows into the tank. In the tank, two primary things happen. First, the solids in the water have a chance to separate from the liquid. Second, bacteria in the tank decompose some of the solids present. These bacteria partially digest the waste and begin the treatment process. However, it is important to remember that the bacteria do not digest all the solids and the tank needs to be cleaned out every few years. As the tank begins to fill with water, the next component in the system takes over.
Second, we have the drain field. This is a series of pipes that are in the ground and are farther away from the house still. Water from the tank dissipates here. There is a main distribution box that takes care of equally distributing the liquid through the pipes that are available. There are small holes located in these pipes to let the liquid drain into the ground.
The final process of a septic system is the soil that surrounds the drain field. It has the job of absorbing the waste water, cleaning it and then eventually returning it into the ground water supply. The soil gets the material it needs to stay healthy and the waste water is cleaned by going through the soil so that it can be reused again.
For a septic system that continues to work correctly, all three components of the system must continue to work. The tank needs to be pumped out before the collected solids overwhelm the tank. The pipes need to be installed in a way to allow the liquid to drain and not clog. Finally, the surrounding soil needs to be able to absorb the liquid as it completes the treatment.