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What Is a Septic System and How Does It Work?

What Is a Septic System and How Does it Work

For most people who rely on utility water and waste connections, a septic system may seem like a foreign idea. But not all homes are connected to a main sewage line. In fact, millions rely on septic tanks. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept and how it works, we will now explain it in detail.

What Is Septic System?

If your home has a sewer connection, waste flushed down a toilet is piped to a sewage treatment plant, where it’s filtered from water that’s discharged into the environment once clean. Leftover waste goes to the landfill or is converted to fertilizer. A septic system works in a similar way, but on a smaller scale. Your waste is essentially treated in an underground tank just 20 to 50 feet from your house. In addition to a tank, the system consists of inlet and outlet pipes and a drain field. 

How Does a Septic System Work?

The process begins as wastewater is transported via the inlet pipe from your house. It then collects in the septic tank, which typically has a 1,000-to-2,000-gallon capacity. The tank consists of two chambers; a larger chamber accepts waste that flow from the house. While solids settle at the bottom, liquids can flow over the partial wall into a smaller chamber. Wastewater is primarily moved through the system via gravity.

Anaerobic bacteria break down the solids and three layers form. Oils and grease form a top layer, while wastewater and particles form the middle layer. On the bottom are particles that are heavier than water; they form a thick layer of sludge. As solid waste is broken down, the liquids can separate and drain away, leaving behind material at the bottom that must be periodically cleaned out.

The second chamber of the septic tank has an outlet pipe. Liquid effluent flows towards the drain field through perforated pipes or plastic structures. The effluent can therefore drain into the ground, typically via a bed of gravel that helps disperse it. Remaining particles and bacteria are absorbed by the soil; the water is typically pure enough to drink once it reaches deep underground aquifers. The septic field is usually just one to two feet underground.

Do's of Maintaining Your Septic System

If your septic system isn’t properly maintained, you could have serious problems in your home. Of great importance is knowing the do’s and don’ts of maintenance, which we’ll explain below:

Don’ts of Septic System Use and Maintenance

Contact Nexgen Today

At Nexgen, we provide professional plumbing services by fully licensed and insured technicians. Serving much of Southern California, we’re relied upon for pipe, drain, water heater, garbage disposal, and septic system services. If you need more information on how a septic system works, to schedule maintenance, or request 24/7 emergency service, call us at 833-729-9735.

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