How Do Septic Systems Work? What All Homeowners Should Know About the Ins & Outs

If your home relies on a septic tank, it’s wise to familiarize yourself with its inner workings. Septic systems that are well-maintained are much less likely to malfunction at the most inopportune time. They also tend to be more efficient at breaking down waste. 

In this article, we explore conventional setups. Read on to gain a thorough understanding of how the average septic system operates.

What Are the Different Components of a Septic System?

Conventional septic systems are comprised of the main drainage pipe, a tank, and a drain field. These configurations can usually accommodate the waste produced by a single-family home or a small business. 

The main drainage pipe runs from the structure to the tank and is responsible for consolidating the waste from all the drains in the building. The tank, which is a watertight container typically made of polyethylene, fiberglass, or concrete, receives this waste. The waste remains in the tank long enough for solids to sink to the bottom and oil and grease to float to the top. Once this separation occurs, the effluent (or liquid wastewater) is piped out of the tank and into the drain field. 

An underground trench that’s lined with stone or gravel, the drain field directs the effluent from the pipes into the underlying soil. As it trickles into the soil, it’s treated with microbes to remove harmful coliform bacteria. The wastewater continues permeating the soil until it eventually reaches the groundwater.  

It’s important to note that this configuration has a fairly large footprint. As such, there are several gravel-free drain field alternatives for smaller properties. The septic system as a whole, though, still operates in the same way. 

What Kind of Maintenance Do Septic Systems Need?

Over time, sludge and scum inevitably accumulate in the septic tank. As such, the tank needs to be pumped out periodically. The precise frequency will depend on a few factors. Examples include the number of people in the home, the amount of wastewater their appliances produce, and the volume of solids that are flushed down the drain. 

The average household calls out a professional to pump their septic tank every three years. It’s also common to pump the tank before selling the property, so the new homeowners can start on their own schedule. And remember: If wastewater backs up into any drains, it’s a telling sign that the tank is long overdue for pumping. 

Since septic systems have several mechanical components, it’s wise to have a tech conduct an annual inspection. Once a year, call out a septic services contractor to assess the state of the equipment, including any switches and pumps. This will allow you to address any minor issues promptly, thereby mitigating major disasters.

Turn to Mountain Contracting for Reliable Septic Services

At Mountain Contracting LLC, we specialize in installing and maintaining septic systems. Serving clients across Boulder and Gilpin counties, our technicians are equipped to handle both residential and commercial projects. We also address plumbing issues that affect performance, and we can complete jobs like sewer line repair and replacement. To discuss your needs and request a quote for the work, fill out the form on our website or call (303) 888-3580. 

In business for over 10 years, Mountain Contractors, LLC has deep experience in the septic and sewer industry. They’ve successfully and professionally provided sewer and septic services to Boulder and Gilpin Counties and have excellent online feedback and reviews. For help with all your home sewer, water, and septic tank needs, call Mountain Contracting LLC today.