Septic systems are underground wastewater treatment systems, usually used in rural homes that aren’t connected to the municipal sewer system. If you have a septic system, it’s important to keep your system well-maintained and in proper working order—leaks and malfunctions can have a severe impact on your health and the local ecosystem. The importance of septic systems is primarily due to their convenient, eco-friendly method of getting rid of human waste.
How your septic system works
A typical septic system consists of a holding tank and a drain field. Bacteria in the septic tank digests organic matter like food, human waste and more, separates out oils and grease and lets the remaining fluid trickle into the ground. Some systems use pumps and other methods to help urge the treated water along and into the ground, while others use methods to disinfect the water further before discharge. When the drain field soil accepts the water, it naturally removes any coliform bacteria (present in human waste) and eventually allows the water to enter the groundwater.
Since your septic tank allows water to leach into the ground, it’s important to use only septic-safe products, or you could be allowing toxic chemicals to enter the groundwater supply.
If you’re not sure whether you have a septic system, you can find out by asking neighbors if they have one and checking your utility bill to see if you’re charged for sewer services. Using a well is also an indication that you may have a septic system.
The importance of septic systems
If your septic tank leaks and floods the drain field, sewage can back up in your toilets, tubs and sinks as well as flow to the ground’s surface. If the fecal matter is allowed to contaminate the groundwater supply, you and your family could contract a number of diseases, including typhoid, meningitis and dysentery.
Signs of a problem with your septic system include suspiciously green patches of grass over the tank or in the drain field, pooling water around your septic system or in your basement, backed-up wastewater in your home’s sinks, toilets and tubs and a strong odor outside.
To avoid problems, have your septic tank professionally pumped every three to five years to remove sludge and scum from the tank to ensure that it won’t leak or overflow.
If you notice a problem with your septic system, call an experienced plumber or septic system specialist immediately. With careful maintenance and observation, your septic system is an important, eco-friendly way to handle wastewater on your property.
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Categorised in: Septic Maintenance