Back to School: an Introduction to Septic Systems

Learning Three Easy Basics About Septic Tanks

Septic tanks play an important role in taking wastewater away from home. It’s critical homeowners have a basic understanding of how these systems work and how to maintain them. Doing so prevents problems from arising, and certain considerations can extend the septic system’s lifespan.

Here are some commonly-asked questions about septic systems:

What Are Septic Systems?

The home’s septic system removes pollutants from the water and sends the waste away from home. About 25 percent of Americans have septic systems, according to WBUR. If one has a septic system, here’s a basic overview of how it works:

  • A homeowner turns on the shower.
  • Water comes from one of Pennsylvania’s three water sources: the Delaware, Ohio River, and Susquehanna basins.
  • The water exits the home through a drain and enters the septic tank.
  • The water remains in the septic tank until the waste settles to the bottom.
  • The water exits the septic tank and into a soil absorption field (also known as a drain field).
  • Naturally-occurring bacteria in the drain field break down the contaminants in the water.
  • The water re-enters the water cycle through evaporation, where it’s eventually disposed into one of Pennsylvania’s basins.
  • A homeowner turns on the faucet, and the process starts all over again.

It’s a little more complicated than that, but that’s a basic understanding of how it works. For instance, the county will first put germ-fighting chemicals in the water, making it safe to drink. The home also uses a water meter and other components to measure how much water is used.

What Are Some Signs of Septic System Failure?

puddles and spongy grass The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists some signs of septic tank failure:

  • Strong odors around the drain field: This could point to a leak in the septic system, causing wastewater to accumulate beneath the lawn’s surface.
  • Wastewater backs up into the home’s sinks and drains: Sometimes, septic tanks fill up. This can cause them to overflow into the house, causing unpleasant odors, clogs, leaks, and mold growth.
  • Puddles and spongy grass growing near the septic tank or drain field: Plants can feed off the waste in wastewater, causing uncontrollable growth. While plant growth may seem good, it could point to a leak beneath the surface. Leaks can also cause large puddles in the yard.
  • Gurgling sounds from the plumbing system: This could mean that wastewater isn’t leaving the septic system or that reactions are happening beneath the surface to break down the waste.

These are just some signs of septic tank failure. A septic systems repair service can assess one’s septic tank and address any problems. One should have a professional inspect their system at least once a year.

Septic System Maintenance Tips for Homeowners

professional maintenance In addition to scheduling plumbing maintenance visits from a professional who will pump the tank, one can help maintain their system by:

  • Throwing certain items in the garbage: Homeowners should avoid flushing paper towels, tampons, condoms, and other things down the toilet. The septic system cannot process these items and suffer as a result. If it’s not waste or toilet paper, one should throw it in the trash can.
  • Avoid pouring chemical cleaners down the drain: Like the items listed above, septic systems cannot process corrosive chemicals. These substances could actually weaken the system and cause leaks.
  • Using high-efficiency fixtures: By using WaterSense appliances, one can put less strain on their plumbing system. WaterSense appliances use less water than traditional devices.

These are just some examples of ways to maintain the septic system between professional maintenance visits. Again, one can learn more about maintaining their system by consulting a professional.

About RiverView Mechanical

RiverView Mechanical is a locally owned business offering 24/7 emergency help to those living in Hallam, PA, and the surrounding areas. They provide honest pricing, trustworthy technicians, and the latest technology. Call them today for septic tank services in Hallam, PA.