What is a Septic System?

According to EPA, homeowners should inspect their traditional septic system after every three years through a professional. Unfortunately, most homeowners are unaware of the mechanics and use cases of their septic systems.

Contrary to misguided perception, septic systems come with more space than people realize. In fact, over 20% of homes in America have dedicated septic systems. But having a septic system or tank requires basic maintenance. And homeowners often don’t even have an idea whether or not they have a septic system in their home.

The focus of this article is to help you understand the fundamentals of septic systems, their importance, and essential maintenance tips.

So, What Exactly Is a Septic System?

Homes without a centralized main public sewer system have to get rid of their wastewater and this is where a septic system comes into the picture. In layman’s terms, a septic system treats or disposes wastewater from showers, sinks, toilets, and laundry.

Fundamentally, a septic system accumulates solid and liquid wastes from commercial and residential areas into a separate tank. After that, it breaks down and distributes the waste into a separate drain field to avoid any contamination on the surface or groundwater.

Types of Septic Systems

Yes, there is more than one type of septic system for residential and commercial use cases. Depending on the soil and site condition, you can either install a traditional or alternative septic system. Conventional septic systems use gravity to push solid and liquid waste from the origin point to the tank.

And instead of releasing clean water like a conventional system that involves natural bacteria, the alternative septic system disintegrates your waste with oxygen. On the other hand, you can opt for an engineered septic system. This type of system uses a pump to push water straight into the drain.

An engineered septic system is used around sites with steep slopes and poor soil. But despite the type of septic system, there are biological and technical processes at work. For instance, a conventional septic tank treats and holds the organic waste.

Simultaneously, wastewater gets treated through a perforated buried pipe that passes to the soil.

Mechanics of a Septic System

The mechanics of a septic system are straightforward. Whether it’s doing the dishes or flushing down the toilet, a septic system makes sure the wastewater leaves the residential or commercial space through a single pipe and transfers onto the septic tank. After that, this wastewater is buried far away from your home underground.

A septic tank is an essential component of a septic system. It is a watertight container made out of fiberglass or concrete. This tank separately contains all the wastewater and waste materials in an organic manner. The solid waste sinks down to the bottom and then creates sludge.

The treated wastewater gradually gets into the drain field. It is an excavated dirt area where the water filters do their work and treat it up until it becomes part of the groundwater. The layers of dirt work as an organic filter and remove the viruses and bacteria.

Site Inspection and Permit

When it comes to the site inspection, you have to take into account the square footage of the residential space along with the site’s topography. And most important, the type of soil is crucial to inspect a septic system. The idea of inspection is to make sure the septic system caters to your specific residential or commercial needs.

For instance, conventional septic systems are diverse and compatible with local conditions in southwest areas. In Texas, soil cannot absorb wastewater material required by conventional septic systems. In these areas, alternative septic systems are more suitable than traditional septic systems.

For the sake of convenience and assurance, make sure you seek out the expertise of a licensed and professional contractor to conduct site evaluation. You can also count on the health department to find out the local requirements to install and maintain a septic system.

On top of site evaluation, you will need a permit before the installation of a septic system. Most states mandate residential and commercial users get a septic permit. You can get the permit from the local environmental department or quality permitting offices.

Installation and Maintenance of a Septic System

In a typical construction process, the installation of a septic system takes place at the end. And that’s because it avoids the need to drive heavy machinery on top of a septic system that can damage tanks, sewer lines, and drain fields underground.

The cost of installing a septic system depends on the used material, system type, inspection and permitting charges, and labor costs. In comparison, the conventional septic system is less expensive than the alternative septic system.

On average, the installation costs between the two range from $3,000 to $12,000. Conversely, the average cost to install and get a permit for an engineered septic system is around $8,000. But the cost of a septic system can increase or decrease depending on whether you live near a creek or close to a flood plain. And septic tank made out of plastic, concrete, or fiberglass can impact the total installation cost.

Maintenance Tips for a Septic System

Basic maintenance of a septic system is essential to ensure functional use cases. For starters, you have to pump the septic system out after every 3-5 years. Ideally, you should periodically pump the septic system to minimize the potential costs. Again, a lot depends on the tank size and location.

It is vital to be aware of contours so that you don’t overdrive your septic system. You should also plant somewhere to avoid strong and deep roots. In terms of landscape, suitable planting can make all the difference. Besides, shrub and tree roots are bound to grow right into the pipes that would lead to cracks.

Final Thoughts

A septic system is an efficient way to cut out the sewage from residential space. Still, it requires basic maintenance and inspection every three years to ensure proper functions. But septic systems have a self-sufficient mechanism that makes them highly efficient.

Depending on the weight, a septic systemic can break down fluids, sludge, and scum separately. As much as the process and mechanics of a septic system may seem simple, it can befuddle some people. In retrospect, the trick is to make sure you’re conventional or alternative septic system is operational and functional.