Routine maintenance is essential to your septic system. A well-maintained system will provide a safe and lawful means of waste disposal for your home’s plumbing system. Proper maintenance will also ensure a healthy and operational system for many years. The more informed you are as a septic system owner and the more familiar you are with the function of your septic system, the better you will be able to care for it.
The most common system in our area is a gravity fed conventional septic system. This system consists of three main parts:
This is where all liquid waste travels when it leaves your home via your plumbing system, which is the piping routed throughout your home’s walls and crawl space. These pipes tie into your main sewer line, which leads directly into your septic tank.
Septic tanks come in numerous sizes. The size of yours will depend upon the size of your home, i.e. the number of bedrooms in your home. Law requires proper tank sizes, check the SC State Regulations if you have questions.
As the waste in your tank accumulates, it will begin to separate into three layers. The first or top layer is aptly named the scum layer or can also be known as the cake. This thick hardened layer consists of human waste, toilet tissue and other solid materials disposed of from your home. This scum, or cake floats on the middle layer, which is simply waste water known as the effluent. As the bacteria in your septic tank feed off the organic matter in the scum layer, the residual settles to the bottom of the tank, this creating the last layer, known as sludge.
Over time the scum layer grows thicker and the sludge layer deepens. As this occurs the quantity of effluent lessens and becomes more contaminated with suspended solids. This is why septic tank pumping & cleaning on a regular and consistent basis is so important. If you are unsure of how long it has been since your last service, or whether you are due for service, please contact us for a septic tank inspection so we can inform you of your tank’s condition.
When the effluent leaves your septic tank, it travels via gravity through a pipe and into your distribution box. This box is buried downhill from your septic tank. Your distribution box has several holes in it, where your drain field pipes are attached. The box evenly distributes the effluent to these pipes.
Your drain field is a maze of underground, perforated pipes, which are lying on gravel. The effluent travels through these pipes; escaping through the perforations and seeping down through the gravel, into the soil and eventually back into the water table. Your drain field is an intricate part of your septic system. Please note you must keep your drain field area free of structures, trees, shrubs, swimming pools etc. Also, remember not to park on or drive over your drain field area, as this can cause irreversible damage, resulting in costly septic system repairs. If you’re unsure where any parts of your septic system are located, we strongly recommend contacting us for a septic system inspection.