Waste water leaves your home and enters your septic tank. This tank performs two functions. It serves as a holding tank as the solids settle out. The heavier solids will sink to the bottom forming a layer of sludge. The lighter solids (fats, oils, grease, etc) rise to the surface to form a scum layer. The clear layer in the middle is called the effluent. The second purpose of the tank is for naturally occurring bacteria to begin breaking down the larger solids and destroying the pathogens.
After this process, the effluent enters the enters the drain field. This is a pipe laid in a trench partially filled with gravel and covered with topsoil. As it enters, it percolates thorough the gravel bed where most of the pathogens are destroyed. As it exits the drain field the natural soil completes the treatment process.
What can cause a system to fail?
Failures can be avoided by learning how to a system functions, how to use it and how to protect it.
1. Understand that your system works on a bacterial process…good bacteria eating bad bacteria. Harsh cleaning solutions will kill off bacteria. Also note that bacterial do not eat plastics, nylons, polyesters…etc.
2. A septic system system can only handle a certain amount of water per day. Too much and the system can become overloaded. Install water saving appliances and use water saving techniques.
3. Solids can plug drain fields (ie…from garbage disposals, washing machines, feminine products, cigarette butts, paper towels, condoms, etc). Install a filter for these devices or do not use garbage disposals at all.
4. Vehicles should not be allowed to drive over the drain field. Thus compacting the soil and destroying the structure of the soil.
Resource: Septic Installation Greeley Pennsylvania