Know your Weather

A typical septic system has four main components: a pipe from the home, a septic tank, a drainfield and the soil. The principle function is to protect human health and enhance water quality. Septic systems serve more homes in the U.S. and many other countries than any other waste disposal method.

Pipe From Your Home
Your household wastewater exits from all plumbing fixtures through a pipe to the septic tank. There may be one or more “clean out” ports located for maintenance purposes in this run of pipe.

Septic Tanks
The septic tank is designed or sized based upon the number of bedrooms in the home to retain the wastewater long enough (24 hours) to allow the heavy solids or settable solids settle to the bottom forming a sludge layer, while lighter or floatable solids such as fats, oils and greases, rise to the top and form a scum layer. This leaves a middle layer of partially clarified wastewater commonly referred to as the clear water zone.

Some solids are removed from the wastewater, some are digested by anaerobic bacteria and some are stored in the tank. Up to 50 percent of the solids retained in the tank decompose and must be removed periodically as regulated by County and State codes.
Single Compartment and Two Compartment Tank Systems
The two types of designs which provide more efficient treatment capacity and longer service life to your drainfield are:
•The Two Tank Single Compartment System is designed for two single compartment tanks installed in series or;
•The Single Tank Two Compartment System is designed for a single tank containing two individual compartments.
The advantages of both designs will:
•Reduce the amount of solids entering the drainfield.
•Serves as treatment for solids rather than storage of solids.
•More bacterial action.
•The Single Tank Two Compartment System however, offers one more advantage which reduces the installation area and overall costs.

Pump Tanks
In some areas, soil conditions may require the addition of a pump tank to the septic tank system. The pump tank is required for systems designed with an In Ground Pressure or Mound Systems. The pump tank contains a sewage effluent pump, control floats, and a high water alarm. The control floats are set so that a specific volume of effluent is sent to the drainfield. This specific amount is referred to as a dose. When the effluent in the pump tank rises to the level of the “on” float the pump is activated and pumps the level of the effluent down until it reaches the “off” setting.

Should the “on” float fail to activate the pump or should the pump itself fail the level of effluent in the pump tank will continue to rise in the pump chamber. When this level reaches the alarm float an audible and visual signal will be activated. The location of the alarm device should be known by the homeowner. The alarm device is commonly located next to the electrical circuit panel or in the garage. Once this alarm is activated there is some emergency storage available in the pump tank before the system actually over flows of backs up into the house. The audible signal can be deactivated by pressing a button or switch to “silence” it however; this will not solve the problem. You should immediately begin emergency water conservation measures and call a qualified plumbing contractor, the original installer or your County or City/Town/Village Health or Sanitation Departments.

The effluent flows or is discharged into the drainfield, also known as a leech bed or absorption field, where it percolates into the soil, which provides final treatment by removing harmful bacteria, viruses and nutrients. Suitable soil is necessary for successful wastewater treatment. Sites with less than suitable soil conditions may utilize a mound system achieving the same result.
Maintenance of Your System

Solids that are not decomposed remain in the septic tank. If they are not removed by periodic pumping, solids continue to accumulate until the over-flow into the drainfield. This eventually leads to drainfield plugging and drainfield failure. The first signs may be slow draining fixtures; however the system may fail by discharging sewage effluent to the ground or back-up into the house as well.