What is a Septic System?
A septic system is a highly efficient, self-contained, underground wastewater treatment system. Septic systems operate on a simple principal. Water in, water out. If you flush six gallons down the drain, six gallons will immediately leave the tank and travel to the leach field. Because miles of sewer lines are not needed, on-site systems are less disruptive to the environment. They are less costly to operate than the large municipal treatment plants and more efficient.
A septic system consists of two main parts: a septic tank and a leach field. The septic tank is a water-tight tank and generally is made of concrete or fiberglass. Waste water flows from the house to the tank. The tank treats the wastewater by holding it in the tank long enough for the solids to settle out of the effluent (water) and fall to the bottom of the tank. This is called SLUDGE. The solids that are lighter than water: such as grease, oil, laundry lint, and garbage, remain floating on the top of the water, this is the SCUM layer. The middle layer, and it should take up most of the volume of the tank, is called effluent. It is cloudy water. It is this layer of cloudy water that flows into the leach field. The layers of scum and sludge remain in the tank where enzymes and bacteria work to break them down. The scum and sludge that cannot be broken down remain in the tank until the tank is cleaned and pumped.
When the cloudy water leaves the septic tank, it travels to the leach field. It flows from one, to a series of perforated pipes that take the water and distribute it to the field. The trenches can be from 5 ft. deep to deeper. They are filled with rock. The rock serves no purpose other than to hold the trench open. The water trickles down through the rock to the bottom of the trench. Millions of microbes work to process the pathogens (bacteria and viruses) thus breaking down the organic matter. The water is purified and returns to the aquifer.