In rural areas, most properties have a septic system because they are too far from the city’s main sewer pipe. Property owners prefer an on-site wastewater treatment facility because it is easier to maintain and there’s no monthly cost. But if you are new to rural-style living, you might be surprised that there are also some things you have to do for the septic system. Maintenance is one. Right water usage is another.
Of course, there’s also the occasional repair and replacement required by the septic system. For example, if there’s a problem with the septic tank and drain field, you may need a trenchless sewer repair service done to your system. But for the most part, you don’t have to worry about the septic system as long as you understand how to properly use and maintain it.
The Septic Tank and Drain Field
Your septic system is composed of two main components: a septic tank and a septic drain field. The tank has two chambers to keep the sludge (solid waste) away from the drain field. Inside the tank, the waste is divided into three layers: the sludge or the solid waste, the effluent or the wastewater, and the scum or the grease and fat. The sludge is the heavy solids that sink to the bottom while the grease or fat floats to the top of the layer where it forms a hard crust.
There’s a pipe between the two chambers. Ideally, only the effluent must get into the second chamber. There are times, of course, when tiny bits of solid waste will get into the next chamber. But what’s critical is the flow of the wastewater into the drain field. The leach field is not designed to process solid waste, so there’s a septic filter between the drain field and the tank. This ensures that no solid waste gets into the field.
The field is composed of trenches and perforated pipes through which the effluent will trickle down to the soil layer below the trenches. This same layer of soil, gravel, and sand cannot process or treat solid waste. The natural treatment process only happens with effluent water, which will join the groundwater.
On average, each person in the household uses 80 to 100 gallons of water a day. The largest use of household water is flushing the toilet, followed by taking a shower or bath. Regular laundry days will also contribute to filling up the septic tank faster. This is why it is prudent for household members to be efficient in their use of water.
To save on water usage, you can take shorter showers and baths. You should also laundry more often instead of washing two weeks’ worth of clothes in one go. This will “drown” the septic tank. But you don’t have to be super sensitive about your water usage. The septic tank is designed so that the water will flow into the drain field once it reaches the maximum level. But to extend the life of the septic system, make sure that be mindful of how you use water at home.
Many homeowners are worried about the maintenance of the septic system. They shouldn’t be. You have to remember one thing when maintaining the septic system: follow the schedule. A septic tank needs to be pumped every three to five years, depending on your water usage. Ideally, a 1,250-gallon tank being used by four residents should be pumped every three years. That number will go up when there are more people in the house or go low when there are fewer household members.
During the septic pumping, the machine will suck the sludge from the bottom of the tank. This will clear enough space in the tank, so it can effectively hold the waste coming from your house. You’ll see a difference when the tank is full or empty. When it is full, you have slow drains. There could even be a bad smell coming from the pipes or the area of the yard where the tank is. When the tank is recently emptied, the toilet flushes better. The drains also don’t take as much time to get rid of standing water in your sink.
So are you still worried about the septic system you have in your property? As a homeowner, you need to understand every aspect and corner of your property. Knowing how the septic system works and how to maintain it properly will go a long way in ensuring its efficiency and life.