If your home has a septic system, you should have a solid understanding of how it works so you can maintain it properly. While a correctly designed and installed septic system can last for decades, it does require periodic inspections and maintenance to function optimally.

Without routine care, your septic can develop blockages that cause wastewater to back up into your household drains or may even contaminate the groundwater around your home. Ultimately, you may end up shelling out several thousand dollars to replace the system if you neglect its maintenance needs.

Below, you’ll find a basic breakdown of how your septic system works and what you need to do to maintain it properly.

How a Conventional Septic System Works

When you have a septic system, all of the water that travels into every drain throughout your house flows into one main drainage pipe (your main line). From there, that water, along with any waste it contains, will flow into the septic tank. Once watery waste (effluent) makes its way into your septic tank, here’s how the system works:

1.      The tank holds the effluent while anaerobic bacteria digest the organic materials it contains.

2.      As bacteria digest the organic matter, the solid byproducts of that digestion process sink to the bottom of the tank, forming a sludge.

3.      As the sludge sinks, oily matter (grease, fats, and oils that flow into your drains) within the effluent rises to the surface of the wastewater where it forms a sort of scum.

4.      The septic tank’s filter, along with various compartments and a T-shaped outlet, prevent solid material from exiting the tank and traveling into the system’s drainage field.

5.      The watery effluent (minus the solid sludge that was left behind during the bacteria’s digestion process) then exits the tank and flows into the drainage field, which features perforated piping buried beneath the ground.

6.      As the wastewater travels into the drainage piping, it gradually seeps out of the perforations into the surrounding soil.

7.      As the water percolates through the soil, bacteria within the ground continue decomposing organic matter within the wastewater. Both the natural percolation and organic decomposition processes effectively clean the wastewater, removing harmful bacteria and viruses, and even nutrients. 

8.      Ultimately, the water seeps back into the groundwater supply.

What Happens When a Septic System Isn’t Maintained Correctly?

Maintaining a septic system doesn’t take a lot of work, but when it’s not done properly, major problems can develop. If you don’t care for your septic correctly, the most common issues you’ll likely run into include:

●        Wastewater and sewage backing up into your bathtub when you flush your toilets

●        Showers, bathtubs, and sinks that drain slowly or fail to drain at all

●        Strong sewage odors in your yard near where the septic tank or drainfield is located

●        Pooling water in your basement or muddy, sludgy puddles developing in your lawn around the drainfield.

How to Maintain Your Septic System and Drainfield Properly

If you want to prevent backed-up drains, water intrusion beneath your home, and sewage collecting in your yard, here’s what you’ll need to do:

●        Schedule periodic drain cleaning with a professional. A drain cleaning specialist can perform a camera drain inspection to assess the health of your pipes and your septic tank. If you experience slow drains or any of your pipes develop a clog, professional drain cleaning will break apart and eliminate the solid matter from within your drains. That way, it won’t cause blockages within the septic tank.

●        Be smart about your water usage. Using an excessive amount of water can force the septic tank to flush itself too rapidly, which can cause excess wastewater buildup in your yard.

●        Have your septic tank pumped regularly. Have a professional drain cleaner or a plumber inspect your septic system every two to three years. Since the system is designed to contain solid waste (the sludge at the bottom of the tank) that waste must be pumped out of the septic tank periodically. Don’t wait until your drains are backing up to have this done! If you do, solid waste can travel into the drainfield pipes, where it can clog the perforations and prevent liquids from exiting the tank.

●        Be careful about what you allow down your drains. When you flush the toilet, avoid flushing anything but toilet paper and human waste. Never put wipes, diapers, dental floss, cotton swabs, or feminine hygiene products down the toilet. If you have a garbage disposal, avoid putting coffee grounds, starches, and other foods down the drain as these items can cause blockages that may clog or damage the septic over time. 

Need Septic System Cleaning Near Stillwater, MN?

Is your septic system backed up? Whether you’re dealing with a backed-up commercial septic system or your household main line appears to be clogged, get in touch with our team at Drain Blaster Bills’ Sewer & Drain Cleaning today! Our comprehensive septic system cleaning service will remove any blockages within the system and get your drains flowing freely in no time at all.

To get started or learn more about what we can do for you, give us a call today at 763-913-8719 or request a free service quote, and we’ll get in touch with you promptly.