What is a Septic System?

So what is a septic system, anyway? And why is it called an Onsite Sanitary Waste Disposal System?

Septics are set up in rural areas when municipal sewers are not available. The system functions to remove solid materials from waste water and to filter the water before it is returned to the underground water table.

These systems are designed to work so that bacteria breaks down or destroys the materials deposited in the septic tank. From there, the remaining effluent water (the waste water) is discharged into the soil for final treatment.

A number of factors will determine the type of components a home requires. Most areas have a regulatory agency (generally the state health department in the United States) that determines the system design.

Each individual system design must meet specific criteria. The most important criteria is the amount of water used daily. This is determined by the number of bedrooms and/or the expected use of the structure.

The next criteria for the septic tank design is the condition of the soil into which the effluent water is discharged (called a drain field). Soil conditions are evaluated by a "perc" test (pronounced "perk"). These tests are conducted either by the regulatory agent or a private tester such as a soil scientist.

There are many types of septic tank designs. Depending on what is required, the structure may need a conventional system, an aerobic treatment system, a chlorination or dechlorination system, a filtered system, or an incinerator system.

Septic systems are designed to use a drain field. This is the area where the effluent waste is discharged. There are many types of drain fields, too.
The type of drain field required depends on the soil requirements. Plans may call for a conventional system, a drip irrigation system, a spray irrigation system, a low pressure distribution system, sand mounds, or wet lands.




By the way, the components of the system are called an Onsite Sanitary Waste Disposal System because that is what it is and does.

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