Whether you’re buying a home with a septic tank for the first time, or you’ve lived on a property with a septic system for years, knowing the parts of a septic system can help you identify when there is a problem, maintain your septic system, and talk more easily with septic professionals.
1. Your Home
Wastewater comes from your home through a pipe to your septic tank. This includes all household water, from toilets, to sinks, to washing machines. It’s important to follow best practices for what cleaning materials, detergents, even shampoos and conditioners to use to keep you septic tank happy.
2. Your Septic Tank
Your septic tank is buried in your yard. It collects all of your wastewater, allowing any solids to settle at the bottom. This is called sludge. Oils and grease float to the top, this is called scum. In between the sludge and scum layers is water that exits through a T-shaped outlet into your drain field. Scum and sludge must be cleaned out through regular septic tank cleanings.
3. Your Drain Field
You probably don’t think of soil as a key part of your septic system, but it is. The water that leaves your septic tank flows into a drain field (also called a leach field) where it passes through gravel and dirt which act as cleaning agents for the water. The soil can remove harmful bacteria from the liquid. Too much liquid can cause the drain field to flood and a backup to occur. This is why it is so important to get your septic tank pumped regularly.