The Process Behind How a Septic System Works

A septic tank is a large storage device that’s made either out of concrete, PVC, plastic, or fiberglass. Essentially, it’s how sewage is taken to a treatment facility. This article will go over the details of the exact process used in the septic system.

The Steps

When water is used in the house, it all collects into a single drain, which empties into the septic tank. This tank is located underneath the ground and is buried out of sight. The solids that were taken down the drain eventually make their way to the bottom of the tank creating what is called sludge. Oil and grease float on top above the sludge which is called scum.

There are compartments within the tank as well as a T-shaped outlet that keeps this sludge and scum from escaping the tank. Thus, it prevents them from leaking into the drain field area.

The only thing that is allowed to exit into the drain field area is the wastewater which it does once the solids have become sludge. The wastewater is pretreated when it exits out into the drain field. The field in question is shallow and covered and was made by hand in unsaturated soil. Because of the porous surfaces of the field, wastewater is able to leak through a series of pipes and filter through it. It is the soil which treats and disperses wastewater, eventually transferring it into groundwater.

An issue can arise if the drain field is already saturated with too much water or other liquids. The area can flood, which means sewage can reach the ground surface and make quite the mess of the surrounding area of the tank. Since this is usually the yard, it can be a rather nasty surprise and problem. An overloaded drain field may also cause toilets and sinks to back up, making a mess of the inside of the house as well.

If all goes well, however, the wastewater is treated by naturally filtering out harmful bacteria as it moves through the drain field. Viruses can also be expelled from wastewater in this way. Over time, someone will come to drain the sludge and scum out of the tank, and the process can be continued.

Keep in Mind

Because a broken or malfunctioning septic tank or septic system can cause a potentially pricey problem, be sure to keep an eye out for any of the following problems. Wastewater does not properly drain into the tank and backs up into the normal household drains, the drain field is a bright green color and is spongy, or pooling water in the area of the tank or basement.