FAQs for Homeowners:
Do you have a question about how your septic system works? We have the answer! Some of our most frequently asked questions are listed below. If you have a question that is not listed here, please give us a call. You can also Contact Us and use our online form to submit your questions or make an appointment.
Q: What is a septic system?
A: Septic systems are individual wastewater treatment systems that use the soil to treat small wastewater flows. They are typically used in rural or large lot settings when centralized wastewater treatment is unavailable or impractical.
Q: What does a septic system consist of and how does it work?
A: A septic system consists of a septic tank, a distribution box and a drainfield, all connected by pipes. The system treats household wastewater by temporarily holding it in the septic tank where heavy solids and lighter scum are allowed to separate from the wastewater. The solids settle to the bottom of the tank and are decomposed by bacteria. The solids, along with the lighter scum, must periodically be removed from the tank by a professional septic tank pumper. After the partially treated wastewater leaves the tank, it flows into a distribution box, which separates this flow evenly into several drainfield pipes. The wastewater then drains through drainage holes in these pipes into gravel trenches for temporary storage. Then the wastewater slowly seeps into the soil where it is further treated and purified.
Q: How often should my septic tank be serviced?
A: Local health departments recommend that the accumulated solids in the bottom of the septic tank be pumped out every three to five years. The more people using a system, the more quickly the solids accumulate, and the more often the tank will need to be pumped. Also, using a garbage disposal increases the solids in a septic tank. Pumping out the tank on a regular basis will help prevent solids from entering the drainfield and causing blockages in the drainfield.
Q: What is an effluent filter?
A: Newer septic tanks (installed after the year 2000) are required to have an effluent filter located on the outlet of the septic tank. The filter protects the drainfield by trapping solids in the wastewater. If the septic tank is not pumped out periodically, the filter can become clogged with these solids; therefore, wastewater cannot flow into the drainfield. The result is wastewater backing up into the house.
Q: What are some signs that my septic system is failing?
A: There are several main reasons that can cause a septic system to fail. See below...
- Sewage backing up into the house
- Sewage surfacing over the drainfield
- Lush grass over the drainfield
- Slow draining toilets or drains
- Sewage odors
Reference: National Small Flows Clearinghouse, “A Reference Guide: Your Septic System for Homeowners.” West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia
Athens Professional Septic and Drain - 45 Poplar Lane, Colbert, GA 30628-1517