When it comes your septic system, you may not know much beyond how often it needs to be pumped out and inspected. However, understanding the components of a septic system and how that system functions will allow you to better troubleshoot your system. It will also help you understand why issues are occurring (or recurring) and how you can adjust your lifestyle to ensure that you don’t overload or break your septic system. Here is a basic rundown of the components of a septic system and how it all works together to process your wastewater.
The primary drain line.
All your home’s plumbing is connected to your primary drain line. The drain line is what connects your sinks, tubs, toilets and other drains to your septic system. This is why it’s so important to be cognizant of what you flush down your toilets and put down your drain. Because all your pipes run to a single drain line, large items can block your main drain line and significantly impact how your appliances drain.
Your septic tank.
When you flush your toilets or run water down your drains, it makes its way out of your home and into your septic tank. Inside your septic tank, the solid waste floats to the bottom and the effluent flows through the effluent filter, and out of your tank through the outlet pipe. Avoiding flushing large objects or items like paper towels, wipes, toys, feminine care products and diapers will help to ensure that your septic tank can function properly.
The distribution box.
The distribution box does exactly what you likely imagine it would – it moves your effluent from your septic tank and distributes it into the drainfield. The distribution box helps to ensure that the effluent is distributed evenly into your drainfield. The box has several openings for septic pipes that lead to your drainfield. When your distribution box isn’t working properly, it can cause drainfield failure due to unequal distribution of effluent.
Your drainfield is what allows the effluent to be distributed into the ground. The wastewater makes its way through your drainfield and is filtered naturally through the different layers of soil before it eventually settles into the groundwater, where it naturally cycles back into subsurface water table. It is here in the unsaturated soil that the soil microbes perform the cleansing of the effluent from the septic tank.
Understanding more about your septic system means being better able to troubleshoot and identify where your issues are happening. Take a moment to become familiar with the structure of your system and get a map from your septic contractor. Knowledge is power! The more you know about your septic system, the better you can maintain it and the more proactive you can be about what you flush and how you manage your water use.