How Septic Tanks Function

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Most of us take for granted the everyday actions of flushing toilets or emptying water in the sink. Do you ever wonder where it goes or what it does? If you live in a big city you will have a huge water or sewage treatment center to save as much reusable water as it can. It is a different story if you live in a small country neighborhood. You will probably have your own septic system.

A simple definition of a septic tank system is a tank that sets apart liquid waste from solid waste. The solid waste is then kept in the septic tank. Solid waste is classified into two categories. The top layer is called the scum and the lower layer is sludge. When the liquid is in the septic tank is in two parts from the solid waste it is called the effluent. The liquid is spread over the soil by what is called a leaching system which is actually under ground a couple of feet from your septic tank and is made up of lateral leach lines comprising a drain field. Effluent goes from septic tank to soil with the help of the leaching system.

The main parts of a septic system include:

1. A drain line – a pipe going from your house to the septic tank

2. A septic tank- this tank is buried in the ground and treats waste water from your house

3. Leaching system – waste effluent drains into the soil through this system

This only a sampling of what a septic system really is. Make a mental note when looking to buy real estate that if the property has a septic system it should be thoroughly inspected. Remember, a house is a very big endeavor. Before you purchase it you will have every thing important on the house and property checked. If anything is wrong with the heating or the air conditioning system you would want to know because it would be a big expense. Similarly, you need to know about your septic system as it is a large investment, too. Take special notice of the age of the home you are looking at. Older homes with septic systems will have tanks made of steel, concrete or stone. If it does you could require a new septic tank which will run you from $4,000 to $40,000. In the end, steel septic tanks rust. Today, it would be replaced by a tank of fiberglass, polyethylene, or concrete.

Remember; always inspect a home and the septic system prior to closing. Always add a contingency clause to the sales contract for the inspection of the septic system. If you are set on buying the home, you may be able to negotiate a better purchase price in the event that the inspector finds fault with the septic system.

By: Bradley Skierkowski