Find Out How Your Septic System Works

The septic system is a small on-site sewage treatment and disposal system buried in the ground. A typical septic system is comprised of a septic tank, a distribution box, and a soil absorption area. 

Soil Absorption or Leaching Area

The most common way to carry overflow water away from the septic tank is a drain field. Drain fields generally consist of a network of perforated pipes laid in a gravel-lined trench.
Solid material overflowing into the soil absorption area should be avoided at all costs. Solid material clogging the pipe perforations will cause drainage to slow and eventually stop. Solid material overflow will cause septic systems to fail. Two main factors cause solid material to build up enough to overflow: bacterial deficiency and lack of sludge removal.
Septic System

When Household Waste Material Enters the Septic Tank, Several Things May Occur

  • Organic solid material floats to the surface and forms a layer of what is commonly called "scum".
  • Bacteria in the septic tank biologically convert this scum material into the liquid.
  • Inorganic or inert solid materials and the by-products of bacterial digestion sink to the bottom of the tank and form a layer commonly called "sludge".
  • Fairly clear water should exist between the scum and sludge layers.
  • It's this clear water that should overflow into the soil absorption area.
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Find Out the Importance of Bacteria in a Septic Tank

Bacteria must be present in the septic tank to digest the organic solids. Normal household waste provides enough bacteria to digest the solid unless any harm is done to the bacteria. Bacteria are very sensitive to environmental changes.
Chemotherapy medications, other heavy antibiotics, and many home-care products will destroy bacteria. Check the labels of products you normally use. In addition, some home-based businesses such as hair salons and bakeries produce by-products that can kill your good bacteria.
Products developed for urban sewer systems can ruin a rural septic system. People do not think about the effects these products have once they go down the drain. How do you think antiseptics affect your septic tank?
Bacteria must be present to digest and liquefy the scum. If not digested, the scum will accumulate until it overflows, clogging the soil absorption area. Killing good bacteria will lead to a septic system failure.
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Learn More About the Septic System Dos and Don'ts

  • Check with the local regulatory agency or inspector or pumper if you have a garbage disposal unit to make sure that your septic system can handle this additional waste.
  • Check with your local health department before using additives. Commercial septic tank additives do not eliminate the need for periodic pumping and can be harmful to the system.
  • Use water efficiently to avoid overloading the septic system. Be sure to repair leaky faucets or toilets. Use high-efficiency fixtures.
  • Use commercial bathroom cleaners and laundry detergents in moderation. Many people prefer to clean their toilets, sinks, showers, and tubs with a mild detergent or baking soda.
  • Check with your local regulatory agency or inspector / pumper before allowing water softener backwash to enter your septic tank.
  • Keep records of the pump repairs, inspections, permits issued, and other system maintenance activities.
  • Learn the location of your septic system. Keep a sketch of it with your maintenance record for service visits.
  • Plant only grass over and near your septic system. Roots from nearby trees or shrubs might clog and damage the drain field.
  • Your septic system is not a trash can. Don’t put dental floss, feminine hygiene products, condoms, diapers, cotton swabs, cigarette butts, coffee grounds, cat litter, paper towels, latex paint, pesticides, or other hazardous chemicals into your system.
  • Don’t use caustic drain openers for a clogged drain. Instead, use boiling water or a drain snake to open clogs.
  • Don’t drive or park vehicles on any part of your septic system. Doing so can compact the soil in your drainfield or damage the pipes, tank, or other septic system components.
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Call Us Right Away if You Experience the Following Issues in Your Septic System

  • Pools of water or soggy spots, foul odors, and / or dark gray or black soils in the area of your drain field
  • Water that surfaces over the drain field during heavy rain or when doing laundry
  • Sewage backup in the lowest drains in the house
  • Gurgling of drains, slow drainage (check for clogs first)
  • Soggy soil overlying the drain field
  • You can find lots of good information about septic systems on the website for Oregon DEQ's Onsite Wastewater Management Program
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Flush Out Sludge for a Cleaner and Stronger Septic System

The sludge in the septic tank, inorganic, and inert material and by-products of bacterial digestion, is not biodegradable and will not decompose. If not removed, sludge will accumulate until it overflows. An overflow will clog the soil absorption area and eventually pollute the ground water.
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Warning Signs of Septic System Failure

Every system is designed for a certain number of occupants. Regular maintenance is the best way to keep your septic system in good working condition. When a system has not been maintained or begins to fail, homeowners will typically encounter one of these warning signs.
Have questions? Call Clinkscales Portable Toilets & Septic Service today!

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