How Septic Systems Work (+ Common Types of Systems)



Septic methods are used all through the nation for properties and small companies that don’t have entry to a municipal sewer system. As a substitute of what we’re generally used to in cities and concrete areas, septic methods serve in its place water therapy course of proper on-site. 

In the event you’re putting in a brand new septic system or are transferring to a neighborhood that makes use of septic methods, then it’ll be a good suggestion to have a primary understanding of what they do and the way they work.

Understanding Your Septic System

What’s a septic system? You would possibly know the fundamentals: a septic system is an underground wastewater therapy system in your property. 

Relying on the place you reside, you may need an choice to attach your property to the native sewer system or use a localized septic system. In different situations, some households may be transferring to an space that doesn’t have access to municipal sewers.

Septic Techniques vs. Sewer Techniques

Septic methods are accountable for treating wastewater on-site. In distinction, public sewer systems transfer untreated wastewater away from properties and companies to a big therapy facility. 

When a house makes use of a septic system, it’s as much as the home-owner to be sure that it’s correctly maintained. Some householders desire this for the extra independence {that a} septic system offers, they usually can avoid wasting cash in terms of month-to-month bills. Whereas that is incessantly a bonus, it’s additionally essential to know that, in accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), native well being departments are accountable for issuing development and working permits for septic methods.

With a public sewer system, the native authorities ensures that each one parts are working correctly so residents have entry to wash water. Nevertheless, this may have a huge impact on the encompassing surroundings as therapy amenities require quite a lot of power and generally chemical substances to make sure that the water is completely filtered.

Septic methods don’t have as large of an affect on the surroundings. In reality, the filtration into the groundwater provides vitamins to the soil so surrounding flowers tends to thrive because of underground water therapy. 

The Principal Elements of a Septic System


Septic methods are composed of many various components that every serve a goal. Extra complicated methods might require specialised components relying on what is required, whereas others are made up of some items of kit to successfully filter the wastewater. To cowl the fundamentals, let’s take a look at among the fundamental options which can be widespread throughout all sorts of septic methods. 

Drainage Pipe

This element is what connects the constructing to the septic tank, additionally referred to as an inlet pipe. The drainage pipe is incessantly made out of a protracted PVC pipe and strikes any wastewater from bathrooms, showers, and sinks to the septic system.

Exit Pipe

As waste enters the septic system, water and effluent, liquid types of waste, have to exit. These liquids are diverted to a close-by drainfield. Relying on the property, a septic system may also embrace a pump station to create strain and transfer water out via the exit pipe. 


The principle element of a septic system is the tank. This can be a massive watertight construction that’s buried underground and away from the principle constructing. The tank is the place the therapy course of begins and the waste is separated into strong, floatable matter and effluent.

The septic tank has two fundamental compartments. The first compartment is the place the strong waste is separated from the effluent, which is saved within the outlet compartment. The partition between the 2 compartments prevents solids from getting into the exit pipe and flowing out into the drainfield. 


An underground system of perforated pipes, generally known as a leach subject, collects wastewater out of your septic tank. As wastewater strikes via the drain subject, any pollution that slipped via the effluent filter at first of the exit pipe are eliminated and the remaining water is discharged again into the groundwater.


The waste that enters the septic system produces gasses, which accumulate above the water stage inside the tank. Because the fuel expands, it goes again via the drainage pipe and exits the septic system through vents put in on the roof of the principle constructing. 


A septic system works along side the encompassing land, so soil is essential for correct water therapy. The type of soil used to your septic system performs an essential function, too. When the effluent reaches the drainfield, it is essential that there are microorganisms within the soil that may take away any remaining micro organism. 

With out these organisms feeding on the micro organism, the septic system may not considerably filter the waste, resulting in contamination of the encompassing land. In the event you’re uncertain of the standard of the soil in your land, conduct a soil take a look at to study extra about its qualities and what upkeep could also be wanted.

Forms of Septic Techniques

Whereas all septic tanks are buried and performance to deal with wastewater, not each therapy system is similar. Relying on the kind of land, quantity of area, and projected utilization, there are all several types of methods out there. Let’s take a look at just a few several types of septic methods used for each single properties and small communities.


A standard septic system is a decentralized wastewater therapy system that’s sometimes used for small companies or single-family properties in rural areas. These methods use a septic tank, inlet and exit pipes, and drainfields to deal with wastewater that strikes via the system. 

The drainfield is constructed utilizing gravel trenches to assist disperse water via the encompassing soil mattress. Because the wastewater strikes via the gravel and into the soil, it’s filtered by microorganisms. Finally, this handled water enters again into the groundwater.


Not each property is appropriate for a septic system that depends on standard know-how. So, a chamber septic system is a superb selection for any property in want of a gravelless wastewater therapy system. 

As a substitute of gravel, the pipes within the drainfield are encased by a chamber, oftentimes product of plastic or recycled supplies. Inside this chamber is a layer of soil the place the therapy course of continues as regular. 


Mound methods use a big hill of sand to assist with the distribution of handled wastewater. These methods are sometimes carried out in areas with excessive groundwater and low soil ranges. Due to the sand mound, the drainage subject is ready to be elevated compared to standard septic methods. 

In a mound system, effluent enters the drainfield and is then filtered via the sand. A mound septic system requires extra upkeep than different soil strategies, in addition to a considerable amount of area for the development. 

Drip Distribution

A drip distribution septic system slowly disperses wastewater via the drainfield utilizing a pump tank and drip tubing. With this method, the drip tubes are positioned only some inches into the bottom, requiring the usage of much less soil. Nevertheless, {an electrical} system could also be required to energy the pump and correctly time the dispersal of wastewater via the drainfield. 


A number of dwellings can profit from a bigger septic system, often known as a cluster or neighborhood system. Every residence or enterprise locally system has its personal septic tank, however every of those tanks result in a shared drainfield. To accommodate the quantity of wastewater being handled, the drainfield is usually a lot bigger than what’s used inside a traditional septic system. 

How a Septic System Works


The aim of a septic system is to take away wastewater from properties and deal with the water on-site. However how precisely does this course of work? Let’s have a look. 

1. Waste Elimination

The primary a part of the wastewater therapy course of is to take away the waste from the constructing. As water strikes out of the constructing, it’s transported to the septic tank.

2. Separation

When the wastewater reaches the septic tank, the solids will separate from the liquids. Any dense matter will settle on the backside of the tank whereas oil and grease rises to the highest. Above this layer of scum, gasses type. 

At this level of the method, the tank holds a backside layer of solids, liquid waste, a layer of scum, and the gasses. The T-shaped outlet on the head of the exit pipe prevents the scum from exiting the tank the place it could proceed to movement to the drainfield.

3. Effluent Is Eliminated

After the waste settles, the liquid leaves the tank via the exit pipe the place it strikes to the drainfield.

4. Discharge

The wastewater enters the drainfield, which consists of PVC piping in gravel trenches. The water is dispersed via the pipes, between the rocks, and into the soil. This discharge course of is without doubt one of the ways in which the wastewater is filtered and handled earlier than it enters the groundwater. 

Throughout this step of the water therapy course of, it’s essential to observe the quantity of water transferring via the drainfield. Flooding within the drainfield could cause sewage to enter the drain pipes or create sufficient of a blockage for it to clog bathrooms and drains again in the principle constructing. 

5. Filtration

The micro organism discovered within the soil completes the ultimate stage of the water therapy course of by filtering out dangerous microorganisms. At this level within the therapy course of, the filtered water strikes via the soil and into the groundwater the place it joins native rivers and streams.

Have Any Questions About Septic Techniques?

Whether or not you will have a septic system or a sewer, Express Sewer & Drain is right here that can assist you with any common upkeep or restore wants within the Sacramento space. Our specialists can look at your pipes to search for outdated supplies and give you cost-effective options. 

For all septic system and plumbing needs, you may depend on us for high-quality restore and alternative providers. Reach out to our crew immediately to study extra!

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