Understanding How Septic System Drain Fields Work

To understand how a septic system drain field works, you first need to understand the basics of a septic system.

The role of a septic system is to provide a sewer system for people who live in rural areas. Often, the homes in these areas are far apart from each other, which means that a sewer system would come at a high cost. Instead, people choose to have septic tanks installed. A septic system is made from a large tank called a septic tank, which is a piece of equipment is buried deep in your yard.

Your Septic Tank’s Components

The waste water that is flushed out of your home goes into the tank on one end and then leaves the tank out the other side. Most septic systems have three layers sitting in the tank. The top layer is called the scum layer. The middle layer is mostly clear water. This water has some bacteria in it, along with chemicals, that help keep the water clean and decompose the bottom layer of the tank, which is called the sludge layer.

When waste water is flushed out of your house and comes into the tank, it moves out some of the waste water that is already sitting in the tank. This water now becomes part of the drain field. The drain field is placed below the septic tank and consists of pipes that are placed underground into gravel.

The Importance of a Drain Field

The water that flows into the drain field will now be absorbed into the ground. The dimensions of the drain field depend on the soil on your property. Much of the Pittsburgh area has hard clay soil, which makes the water coming into the drain field absorb much more slowly than normal. Therefore, in order to ensure that this water is fully absorbed into the ground, your drain field may need to be quite large.

If your septic system is working the right way, only the waste water will leave the septic tank and travel down into the drain field. However, that means that the sludge layer must be lower than where the waste water exits the septic system. To ensure that happens, you must have your septic tank checked every year, and if necessary, have the waste pumped out once every three or four years. Otherwise, the sludge level will back up the entire septic system, leading to ground contamination.

Regular Maintenance for Your Pittsburgh Septic System

Keep your septic system clean by checking your septic tank fill level yearly and then having your waste pumped out every few years. Call Affordable Sanitation today. Our experienced technicians will ensure that your tank and drain field works properly.
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