Septic Systems: A Brief Guide
Private sewer systems are installed in rural areas where houses are spaced too far apart for a shared sewage treatment plant.
These are called septic systems and include four basic components:
• Inlet pipe
• Septic tank
• Anaerobic bacteria
Each time you turn on a faucet, flush a toilet, or do a load of laundry, water and waste travels out of the house through the inlet pipe, into the septic tank and then out to the drainfield where it’s evenly disbursed into the ground.
How Septic Systems Work
Septic systems use a large population of living microorganisms, called anaerobic bacteria, to treat household wastewater. Some of the bacteria live in the septic tank, but most do their work in the drainfield.
1. The septic tank acts as a settling pond. Water waste, known as “effluent,” fills most of the tank. As the bacteria begin breaking down the organic material in the effluent, a layer of sludge falls to the bottom. The sludge is composed of inorganic solids and the by-products of bacterial digestion. Another layer of scum floats to the top which is composed of fats, greases, and oils.
2. Effluent wastewater flows from the tank to the drainfield. The drainfield is made of perforated pipes buried in trenches that are filled with gravel. The gravel around the pipes allows water to flow into the soil and helps oxygen reach the bacteria.
3. The bacteria living in the gravel and soil complete the decomposition of the waste, effectively treating the wastewater. The clean water that is left behind seeps down into the groundwater and aquifer.
Septic Care and Maintenance
A well-designed system can handle a reasonable amount of normal household chemicals such as drain cleaners, laundry detergent, and bleach, although excessive usage of these products can be detrimental to the bacteria.
Avoid putting toxic chemicals, such as paint thinner, solvents, and insecticides down your drains. Cooking fats and grease should also be avoided.
Septic systems are not entirely maintenance-free. The sludge that settles to the bottom of the tank needs to be pumped out every two to four years, depending on the size of the tank and how heavily it’s used. If a garbage disposal is used, more frequent pumping may be needed.
If the sludge isn’t removed periodically, it will eventually end up in the drainfield killing the anaerobic bacteria. Without these bacteria colonies, the system fails.
Septic and Sump Services in Edmonton
• Septic Tanks
• Holding Tanks
For a free estimate or to request sump services in Edmonton, contact us today!