Water: Septic (Onsite / Decentralized) Systems
What Is a Septic System?
How Does A Septic System Work?
- All water runs out of your house from one main drainage pipe into a septic tank.
- The septic tank is a buried, water-tight container usually made of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene. Its job is to hold the wastewater long enough to allow solids to settle down to the bottom (forming sludge), while the oil and grease floats to the top (as scum).
Compartments and a T-shaped outlet prevent the sludge and scum from leaving the tank and traveling into the drainfield area.
- The liquid wastewater (effluent) then exits the tank into the drainfield. If the drainfield is overloaded with too much liquid, it will flood, causing sewage to flow to the ground surface or create backups in toilets and sinks.
- Finally, the wastewater percolates into the soil, naturally removing harmful coliform bacteria, viruses, and nutrients.
Do You Have a Septic System?
- You use well water.
- The waterline coming into your home doesn’t have a meter.
- You show a “$0.00 Sewer Amount Charged” on your water bill.
- Your neighbors have a septic system.
How To Find Your Septic System
- Looking on your home’s “as built” drawing.
- Checking your yard for lids and manhole covers.
- Contacting a septic inspector/pumper to help you locate it.
Failure symptoms: Mind the signs!
- Wastewater backing up into household drains.
- Bright green, spongy grass on the drainfield, even during dry weather.
- Pooling water or muddy soil around your septic system or in your basement.
- A strong odor around the septic tank and drainfield.
- Mind the signs of a failing system.
Looking to Launch a Local Outreach Campaign?
- Check out the SepticSmart Outreach Toolkit!Government officials, industry professionals, environmental groups, and other local organizations can access ready-to-use educational materials, case studies, and more.
Contact SepticSmart Staff:
Phone: (202) 564-1162