Basic Septic Tank and Drain Field

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Basic Septic Tank and Drain Field System

As a homeowner, if your residence is equipped with an onsite septic tank system with drain field and or a cesspool or cesspit type system, it will do you well to be knowledgeable of some basics rules of thumb regarding the day-to-day care, maintenance and operation of the system. Nearly 25% of all homes in the United States have an onsite wastewater system or a septic tank type system for household waste. The alternative is to connect into a city sewer pipeline that will carry the wastewater to a municipal wastewater treatment facility for processing. Unfortunately, for property owners located in rural out of the way areas, hooking up to a central sewer pipeline is not always an option.

Maintaining a septic system can be as simple as paying attention to what we put down the drains and toilets of our home. Bacterial septic tank additives used on a monthly basis are always a good idea. The bacterial supplements will offset the bacteria we kill off with the day-to-day use of anti bacterial cleaning products common to most households such as anti bacterial hand soaps and products that contain phosphorus additives. Anti bacterial dishwashing liquids and bathroom bar soaps can cause a system to fail due lack of bacteria. Lack of digestion in the septic tank will cause solids to migrate out to the drain field causing a buildup in bio mat clogging the drain field, with a result in septic tank failure.

Septic systems work on a process known as digestion. This is a process where the solids produced by the residents are, with the help of bacteria, degraded and digested into an effluent. This would typically take place in the first tank of a typical septic tank and drain field style system. After the solid matter has had time to break down, it will flow over the partition wall of the septic tank into the second stage of the tank. This second stage of the tank is a holding area where the digested effluent is stored until it has risen to the level of tank baffle. The baffles purpose is to limit any remaining solids from passing from the tank to the out flow leading to the drain field where the effluent will then leached into the ground through perforated pipes.

The typical septic tank system is simple in nature and design. Most are nothing but a tank made of concrete or plastic with a dividing wall separating the tank down the middle into to equal sides. The household waste flows from the house through a 4 inch schedule 40 type of PVC pipe into the tank. After the digestion process has taken place, the effluent will flow into the drain field that are typically constructed of 1b, 2b stone and graves that will surround the perforated pipes making up the drain field. Drain field leach line are typically buried below the frost line, on average, two to six feet depending on what part of the country you live in. The length of drain field perforated pipe will vary depending on the design and the permeability of the soil and the size of the property. Most drain fields consist of approximately 250 linier feet in length.

Remember that septic systems will function for a very long time if they are treated and maintained properly. A standard septic tank system will function for many years giving the homeowner years of practically maintenance free service. It is wise to have your septic tank system pumped out and inspected every 3 years. Take a few minutes and go through your home removing any anti bacterial products. Replace them with all natural products found in most local grocery stores. So let us save the planet and our septic systems. My septic system is 51 years old and going strong.

By: Bradley Skierkowski