How a Septic System Works

If you’re a new homeowner or have recently moved, you may find that your new home has a septic system. However, you may not know what a septic system is, what it does, and how it works. We deal with all things septic systems, including educating customers on how they work.  Read on to find out everything you need to know about your new septic system.


What is a Septic System?

Septic systems are underground wastewater treatment structures, commonly used in rural areas without centralized sewer systems. They use a combination of nature and proven technology to treat wastewater from household plumbing produced by bathrooms, kitchen drains, and laundry. [1]

What are the Parts of a Septic System?

A typical septic system consists of a septic tank and a drainfield or soil absorption field.

The septic tank processes organic matter and separates floatable matter, such as oils or toilet paper and solids from the wastewater. Then, there is a discharge of the liquid, also called effluent, from the septic tank; this goes into a series of pipes buried in a leach field or chambers that are designed to slowly release the effluent into the soil.


How Does the Septic System Work?

  1. All water runs out of your house from one main drainage pipe.
  2. The water will run into the septic tank. The septic tank is a water-tight container usually made of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene that is buried in your backyard. The point of the tank is to hold in the wastewater while solids move to the bottom of the tank and oil and grease floats to the top of the tank. The bottom layer is known as sludge and the top layer is known as scum.
  3. The liquid wastewater (effluent) then exits the tank into the drainfield. The drainfield is a shallow underground hole made in unsaturated soil in your backyard. The pretreated wastewater from the septic tank is discharged through piping onto porous surfaces that allow wastewater to filter though the soil. The soil accepts, treats, and disperses wastewater as it percolates through the soil, ultimately discharging to groundwater.
  4. Finally, the wastewater filters slowly into the soil, naturally removing harmful bacteria, viruses and nutrients.

How to Find Your Septic System

Once you have determined that you have a septic system, there are a few ways that you can find it.  You can find it by looking on the drawing of your home and looking in the backyard area to see where it is buried. You can also look for it by checking your backyard for lid and manhole covers.

Signs of Septic System Malfunctioning

There can be multiple signs of a malfunctioning septic system. Some signs of septic system malfunctioning could be a foul odor in the house or in the backyard area, any wastewater backing up into household drains, and very watery and muddy soil around the drainfield.


What to do if you Think There may be Issues

If you are experiencing any of the above issues, be sure to contact a professional immediately. A professional will be more than happy to come out and inspect your septic system so that we can figure out exactly what is wrong with it.


Having a septic system may be a little scary at first, but now that you know all of the basics, there is no need to worry.