What Are the Parts of a Septic System?
A septic system is designed to drain wastewater out of a home or commercial building. It is comprised of drain lines, a septic tank, and drainfield (leach field). When a septic tank is situated below the drainfield, a lift station is installed to pump wastewater from a lower elevation to a higher level through pipes.
Let’s look at the components of a septic system:
Your home’s plumbing is connected to pipes that lead away from sinks, tubs, and toilets to the septic tank. All the pipes connected to various drains run to a single drain line. These pipes are vulnerable to clogs, especially when your run things like grease, eggshells, and cooking oil down the drain. You should be careful about what you run down the drains to avoid clogged drains.
A septic tank is a watertight sedimentation tank typically made of concrete, brick work, or PVC. It is designed to hold the waste generated by the domestic household. When you run water down the drains, it makes its way into the septic tank, whereby the solid waste settles at the bottom, separating from the water. The bacteria in the septic tank breaks down the solids into more manageable materials, and the effluent is released into the drainfield. A septic tank includes compartments and a T-shaped outlet that prevents sludge from draining into the drainfield. If sludge finds its way into the drainfield, it could cause environmental damage and even clog drainfield pipes.
As we’ve already mentioned, a lift station is installed in homes that lack the gradient that allows for a natural flow of wastewater into the drainfield. The purpose of a lift station is to pump wastewater from a low-lying area to a higher elevation so that the wastewater can be discharged into the drainfield.
Also known as a leach field, a drainfield is a network of perforated pipes buried 2 to 4 ft. underground running from the septic tank, a series of trenches, gravel, and soil. The pipes are perforated to release wastewater into the surrounding soils, after which it’s through a natural filtration process. The effluent entering the drainfield is filtered naturally when it percolates in the soil to remove harmful bacteria and viruses. The natural bacteria and microbes present in the soil break down the waste, and the filtered gray water eventually settles into the groundwater. Like other parts of a septic system, the drainfield has to be maintained properly to avoid problems such as sewage odors, soggy areas, and oversaturation. It’s recommended that you have your drainfield inspected at least every three years to keep it in good working order.
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