History of the Septic Tank System

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The septic tank system is believed to have originated in the country of France. John Mouras is credited for inventing the septic tank system on or around the year 1860. Mouras designed a septic tank and built a prototype fabricated from concrete and also fabricated piping constructed of clay leading from his home to the septic tank located in his yard. Approximately 10 years later John Mouras dismantled the unit and to the astonishment of his fellow townsmen found that the tank was virtually empty of any solid organic waist and only contained a liquid effluent scum layer. Eventually Mouras approached a scientist of the era and Mr. Mouras submitted a patent application and was granted a paten in the year 1881. The septic tank made its way to the United States of America in 1883 and some time after to Africa, believed by the British Navy.

A simple standard septic tank is typically 1000 to 2000 gallons. The tank will have typically two inspection openings one inlet opening coming from the house and one outlet opening going the distribution box. The distribution box is the junction between the septic system and the drain field which distributes the digested effluent material to the drain field.

There are three layers of waste in the septic system. The top layer typically floats and is considered the scum layer until to digest and falls to the bottom. The bottom layer is called the sludge layer. There is the liquid layer that lies in between the scum and the sludge layers. This is also referred to as the effluent layer. If not properly maintained, this is also the layer that is most likely to give you the sewer smell or seep through the top of the leach field if the field is clogged and not functioning properly.

The leach field is typically made up of 3.5” to 7” perforated pipe that will run usually 60’ to 140’ feet in length from the distribution box. The perforated pipe is usually buried approximately 2’ to 6’ feet below grade level and the pipe will be layered in gravel typically consisting of 2B and 1B stone. The discharge from the septic tank will travel through the perforated pipe and the will be absorbed into the drain field and absorbed into the leach field. Septic Tank Maintenance will depend on the usage of the system and the overall condition of the tank and leach field. Your bottom of the tank will always accumulate sludge. If you tank was properly installed and designed for you home. The tank should have enough space for up to three years of safe usage before the system should be inspected. If you neglect the maintenance of the system the sludge will reach a dangerous level, the separation of solids and scum no longer takes place, and the overflow will migrate into the absorption area. This will damage and clog you drain field causing thousands in damage repairs.

You may introduce a bacteria enzyme treatment into the system to ensure a sufficient bacteria count and to ensure the digestation process. Breaking down the solids through this process is essential to maintaining a safe and healthy system. The volume of wastewater flow is determined by the type and frequency of common household activities. Good water usage practices in the home will limit the flow into the system limiting the overall strain on the system.