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How To Diagnose a Sewer System in Your Home

You probably already know that your household waste is treated differently than the waste that is in a porta-potty. However, the question is, what happens to the ‘stuff’ in your home toilet after it is flushed and where does the water go when it leaves your sink and bathtub?

You might not know it, but there is an entire process that happens when your wastewater leaves your home. We’re going to explain the two most popular types of sewage systems and how you’ll know which one you have. Keep reading for more information!

Septic Tanks Aren’t Gross When You Understand Them

“septictank”People that purchase a house with a septic tank may be concerned about it leaking, backing up, or other complications that involve household waste.

However, if well-maintained, this really won’t be a concern because of how they operate. Basically, all wastewater from toilets, tubs, sinks, and appliances drain into this holding tank.

Solids settle to the bottom to form sludge while oils and fats rise to the top to form scum. That leaves relatively clear water in between the two. As more wastewater is added to the tank, the water is displaced into a drain field. The drain field is typically piping with puncture holes that are buried in trenches with gravel.

The water slowly drains from these pipes into the soil and the soil removes remaining nitrogen and phosphorus. Don’t worry about it being dangerous or environmentally unfriendly--the grass that is located above this drain field will be green and lush due to the fertilizing properties of the nutrients.

If you’re unsure of whether or not you have a septic tank, there are a few things to look for:

  • Sewer bill has a balance of $0.00.
  • Your home uses well water.
  • You live in a rural area.
  • Your neighbors have a septic tank.

How do Sewage Systems Work?

“sewersystem”As you can see, a septic tank system is pretty easy to understand. Sewage treatment systems are not much different--instead of the wastewater being treated on your property, it is treated by the city’s treatment facility.

There are a few variations to how sewage systems work, mainly to do with the fact wastewater can be treated once, twice, or three times and typically the treatments involve chemicals like chlorine.

Similarly to a septic tank, all wastewater drains away from the home, usually with the help of gravity. Instead of going into a tank, the water goes into the sewer main line where it is piped to the treatment facility. From there, it will begin the treatments:

  • Phase One: basically acts as a septic tank, allowing sludge and scum to form. This stage can remove up to half of the solids and if no more treatment is performed, the water will be treated with chlorine.
  • Phase Two: bacteria is used to remove up to 90 percent of nutrients and organic materials. Again, if the city does not move to the third phase, the water will be treated with chemicals
  • Phase Three: chemicals are used to remove nitrogen and phosphorus. This stage may also use filters to further clean the water before it is discharged.

Other Water Disposal Options

“wastedisposal”You may be wondering if there are other sewage treatment options or if all sewage lines simply work with gravity.

Well, to answer these two questions, there are a few other types of treatments, and pumps are often used when gravity is not an option.

A less common, but still used sewage treatment is called a cesspool. These pools act like a septic tank, but instead, the water ‘percolates’ in the cement walls of the tank. This leaves the solids to build up over time which means constant maintenance.

Like what you read? Feel free to share this post with your friends! If you think there is a problem with your sewage lines or septic tank, call All Purpose Plumbing!