Most homeowners don’t think twice about the wastewater they produce and where it goes after it has been flushed down the drain. However, for those in rural areas, the thought of having to deal with the plumbing system is something to be feared, especially if something goes wrong.
Today we are going to look at how those drawing water from wells deal with their waste management needs and the importance of maintaining the entire septic system.
If you have a septic system, you might not realize your wastewater does not simply flush away to the local water treatment plant. In fact, anyone without a centralized sewer system needs a septic system to do away with wastewater using a combination of technology and nature.
Here are the main components of a septic system and the role they play in wastewater management:
The septic tank is a large, watertight container buried deep underground. Wastewater from flushed toilets, kitchen drains, and laundries drain into the septic tank.
As part of the wastewater treatment process, bacterial activity helps decompose the solid matter, which settles to the bottom of the tank and is separate from the liquid portion that rises to the top.
In the septic tank is a specialized electrical device, such as a pressure gauge, designed to monitor the levels of the tank and trigger the pump to activate when the tank is full, thus pushing the wastewater to its next destination.
Over time, the solid material and by products from bacterial decomposition form a layer of sludge at the bottom of the tank. The oils and fats in the wastewater also form a layer near the top of the tank called the scum.
Both the sludge and the scum need routine pumping from the tank so the septic tank will work properly.
The drainfield is a shallow field some distance from the septic tank. As the wastewater from the septic tank drains through the pipes on its way to the drainfield, it is pretreated, removing all contaminants in the process.
Then once the water gets to the field, the filtered water seeps back into the soil, while any bacteria that came with the water thrives at the surface.
The problem with septic systems is that if the septic tank lets through too much wastewater into the drainfield, it will flood and backwash into the pipes and find its way back into the tank. This is how septic tanks overflow onto the ground level and cause backups in toilets and sinks.
If your septic tank is not working right, and is on the verge of overflowing, you will notice the following signs:
- Wastewater backing up into household drains
- A bright green grass growing in the drainfield, even during dry weather
- Pooling or muddy water around your septic system
- A strong odor near the septic tank or drainfield
If you notice any of these conditions, it is time you get your septic system checked out by plumbing professionals as soon as possible to prevent a huge mess that will require extensive cleanup.
For those that have septic systems, but do not understand how they work, it is time you learn. This way you can prevent a disgusting and costly overflow nightmare.