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Q: What is a septic tank system?

A: A septic tank system is an underground private sewage disposal system. It is the best method of sewage disposal in areas where community sewage disposal facilities (sanitary sewers) are not available and where soil drainage is acceptable.

A septic tank usually consists of two parts:

1. Septic Tank - A water tight (concrete) Container that receives untreated household waste. Solids are retained here.
2. Tile Field - A series of perforated pipes which distribute the liquid from the septic tank to the surroundings soil below.

Q: How does a septic system work?

A: Waste materials from the house enter the septic tank slowly so that solids and greases can:

1. Settle to the bottom and form a sludge layer
2. Raise to the top and form a scum layer

In between the sludge and scum layers is a layer of liquid waste, known as the effluent. When waste enters the tank, bacteria begin to break down the solid material. This process is called "decomposition". As a result of decomposition, solids are reduced, leaving a residue behind in the tank. As time passes, the remaining residue builds up and must be removed via pumping to prevent it from entering the tile field and clogging the system.

The center liquid layer flows slowly from the tank into the tile field. Pipes in the tile field are perforated. This allows the liquids to be distributed equal into gravel filled trenches. Once the liquid reaches the trenches, it soaks into the soil. The soil acts as the final filter in the treatment of waste received by the septic system.

Q: Why is it important to maintain your septic system?

A: Poor Maintenance can cause your Septic System to Fail.

  • A failing septic system can be very costly. Often times failing systems are impossible to repair and must be replaced. Even when the system can be repaired, the expense is much greater than that of a simple cleaning. A failing septic system can also cause your property value to go down. In other words, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure".
  • A failing septic system is a real health hazard. Sewage may contain harmful disease causing bacteria and viruses. When a system fails, sewage may back up into the house and may also rise to the ground surface over the tile field. Therefore, people and pets may be exposed to these harmful bacteria and viruses.
  • A failing septic system is a real nuisance. When a system fails, there is the possibility that it will cause damage to your property. Offensive odors in the house and outside are also results of a failing system.