How does a septic system work?

A septic tank is a buried, water-tight container usually made of concrete, fiberglass or polyethylene. Its job is to hold the wastewater long enough to allow solids to settle down to the bottom forming sludge, while the oil and grease float to the top. Compartments in a T-shaped outlet prevent the sludge and scum from leaving the tank and traveling into the drain field area. Here is a brief overview of how a septic system works:

  • All of the water runs out of your home from one main drainage pipe into a septic tank.
  • The liquid wastewater then exits the tank into the drain field. If the drain field is overloaded with too much liquid, it will flood, causing sewage to flow to the ground surface or create backups into toilets and sinks.
  • The wastewater percolates into the soil, naturally removing harmful bacteria, viruses and nutrients.

Leach Field Diagram

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1. How does a septic system work?
2. Why it is important to maintain your septic system?
3. What can you do to maintain your septic system?
4. Is it important to maintain your leach field?