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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Description of a Typical Septic System

The conventional septic system is the most common method used for onsite wastewater treatment. There are a few different variations of conventional septic systems, but they all generally work the same. Click on the link below for a diagram of a conventional septic system. As you can see the system consists of the following components:

  • A sewer line which carries wastewater from the house to the septic tank.
  • A septic tank which serves as a basin where the settleable solids and floating debris are trapped and removed. The clear liquid from the septic tank has soluble organic material in it and some fine suspended particles.
  • The septic tank effluent passes to a drainfield where it is absorbed into the soil. The drainfield is a either a bed, deep trench or shallow trench excavation that is filled with drainrock and perforated pipe that serve to distribute the wastewater into the surrounding soils. As it is absorbed into the soil the wastewater is filtered and treated so that it is purified prior to reaching the groundwater.

All septic systems have standpipes that extend above the surface. These pipes are not only there to add beauty to your yard, but also to allow for inspections and maintenance. Although the standpipes may all look the same from the surface, they all have different and important jobs. All cleanouts have been installed for maintenance purposes. If cleanouts were not installed, an excavator would have to dig up the system in the event of a clog. The monitoring tube allows for measurement of the liquid level in the drainfield.


Now that you have an idea what a septic system is, we can get a little more in-depth. Here are some more links that will answer some of your initial questions and some new questions about soils and alternative technology systems:

Tell me more about cleanouts and monitoring tubes

Tell me more about septic system testing


What is an alternative technology septic system?


Engineering costs and permit fees

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