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Learn Your Septic System

How does a Septic Tank Work?

The water and waste from your septic system flow through a drainage pipe to the septic tank. Bacteria in the drainage pipe and tank work to separate the solids from scum, which is primarily made of oils, grease, and fats. The scum floats to the top while the solids form a layer of sludge on the bottom.
The liquid wastewater exits the septic tank into the drain field while the sludge and scum stay inside the tank.
The drain field is an excavation that is shallow and covered in unsaturated soil.
The pretreated wastewater is discharged through pipes into porous surfaces that allow it to filter through the soil.
The soil then treats and accepts the wastewater which eventually turns into groundwater.

What is a Septic Tank?

A septic tank is a watertight, buried tank that treats raw sewage that runs from your house. The tank is built to separate scum and sludge while allowing the remaining wastewater to continue towards the soil for further treatment.

A typical septic tank will have 1/3 or 2/3 of the storage set aside for sludge and scum. The accumulated amount can vary from household and storage time can be understood from routine septic maintenance.

What is Sludge?

Sludge is the composition of sinkable solids that are denser than water. This can include solids, grit, and unconsumed food particles.

What is Scum?

Scum is composed of materials that are lighter and water and is primarily made of oils, fats, and grease. This layer of scum floats to the top of the septic tank and bacteria work at digesting the layer over time.

What is the Disposal Field?

The disposal field is where the wastewater ends up after the sludge and scum have been filtered out. This field is under the surface of the ground and is made so wastewater can enter porous material to be filtered back into the soil.

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