While it may seem hard to believe in this day and age, there are still houses and businesses that are not connected to any municipal wastewater treatment system. This means they need to have some type of onsite system to take care of their waste. Most of the time, this means they have a septic tank and leach field at a minimum. While it may seem strange to have your human wastes dumped into a tank in your yard, these systems are really quite effective and do not require much maintenance. Here is a bit of information to help you understand your onsite wastewater treatment system.
Where the Wastewater Comes From
During the course of a typical day you bathe or shower, do some laundry, wash dishes, use water for cooking and drinking, and use the bathroom. Anything that uses water creates wastewater. People using the toilet create wastewater. Everything that goes down your sink, toilet, washing machine, tub, shower stall, or dishwasher ends up going through your plumbing and into your wastewater treatment system. This is why it is extremely important to not put things down the sink or toilet that are not biodegradable.
Once the wastewater goes through the plumbing in your home, it needs to be stored. In most cases, this storage will be a septic tank buried in your yard. When your home was first built, part of the plans included the size of the septic tank required. If you have added on to your home or have more people living in it than what was initially intended, you may need to get a larger tank. It is also possible you will need a larger tank if you use more water than the average household.
Once the wastewater reaches the septic tank, it begins to separate. The solids all sink to the bottom of the tank and oils and grease float to the top. There is a second pipe that leads to the leach field. this pipe is situated so that the solids, oils, and grease cannot just flow out of the tank. The bacteria present in the wastewater break down the solids at the bottom of the tank.
Liquid waste flows out of the tank and into the leach field where it will be dispersed and filtered down through a layer of stones and soil before entering the water table. As long as you are not putting too much water through the system, the waste will be cleaned naturally.
If you notice standing water on top of where the leach field is, the septic system is not working properly. This could be due to excessive rain or melting snow. Reach out to a company that works with wastewater treatment systems to have everything inspected. You would not want to end up with solid waste or unfiltered liquid waste oozing up through the ground where you walk.