Septic 101

How Does my Septic System Work?

Septic System Components:
A typical septic system has four main components: a pipe from the home, a septic tank, a drain-field, and the soil. Some homes have a clean-out pipe connected to the main pipe from the home. Microbes in the soil digest or remove most contaminants from wastewater before it eventually reaches groundwater.

Pipe From the Home:
All your household wastewater exits your home through a pipe to the septic tank.

Clean-Out Pipe:
Clean-out pipes are typically 4" in diameter made of black ABS pipe or white PVC pipe and have a cap screw into the top made of similar material. These caps screw into the clean-out pipe and have a protruding square nub. Sometimes backflow into the home can be remedied by removing foreign material build-up from your clean-out pipe. This is not a point of access for pumping your tank, however. It serves as an access point to insert electronic equipment when attempting to locate your tank.

Septic Tank:
The septic tank is a buried, watertight container typically made of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene. It holds the wastewater long enough to allow solids to settle (forming sludge), and oil and grease to float to the surface (as scum). The septic tank also allows partial decomposition of solid materials. Compartments and a T-shaped outlet in the septic tank prevent the sludge and scum from leaving the tank and traveling into the drain-field. Effluent Filters are recommended to keep solids from entering the drain-field. Newer tanks might have risers with lids at the ground surface to allow easy location, inspection, and pumping of the tank. Drain-Field: The wastewater exits the septic tank and is discharged into the drain-field (soil treatment area) for treatment by the soil. Every time new wastewater enters the tank, partially treated wastewater is pushed out into the drain-field. If the drain-field is overloaded with too much liquid, it will flood causing sewage to rise to the ground surface or create backups in plumbing fixtures. A reserve drain-field is an area on your property suitable for a new drain-field system if your current drain-field fails. Treat this area with the same care as your existing drain-field.

Septic tank wastewater flows to the drain-field, where it percolates into the soil providing final treatment by removing harmful bacteria, viruses, and nutrients. Suitable drain-field soil is necessary for successful wastewater treatment.
What Does Proper Maintenance Include?
A properly maintained Septic System should be serviced every three to five years. Septic System Services include removing the contents of both the liquid and solid side of your tank. We suggest the addition of an inspection to visually inspect the tank, to ensure the inlet & outlet baffles are in place and performing a 30-minute water test to make sure that the leach field is in proper working.
Where Is My Septic Tank?
Unsure of where your septic tank is located? The first step is to contact your city or county's Building Permit Department and request the map supplied by the installation company. In some areas, the EPA or Health and Human Services departments keep septic system information. Should no documentation be found, or you would like to confirm that the records on hand are accurate, Bonanza Septic & Jetting Solutions has the equipment to map and confirm current available maps.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Often Should a Septic Tank be Pumped?
A properly maintained Septic System should be serviced every three to five years. Septic System Services include removing the contents of both the liquid and solid side of your tank. We suggest the addition of an inspection to visually inspect the tank, to ensure the inlet & outlet baffles are in place and performing a 30-minute water test to make sure that the leach field is in proper working.
Do Cleaning Products Affect my System?
The septic system’s bacteria should recover quickly after tiny amounts of household cleaning
products have entered the system. Of course, some cleaning products are less toxic to your system than others. Labels can help key you into the potential toxicity of various products.
Can I Build Over the Septic System?
Do not build driveways, storage buildings, or other structures over the septic system and disposal components. Any construction will prevent access to the system for maintenance, reduce the ability of water to evaporate from the soil, and restrict air movement into the soil. Reduce compaction of the soil by keeping vehicles, equipment, and livestock off the wastewater treatment area. Compacted soil will reduce infiltration in the soil adsorption field.
What Plants are Appropriate for the Soil Treatment Area?
Plant warms season grasses that use more water and if necessary, over-seed with cool-season grasses during the winter. Grasses remove a sizable portion of the water from a system, the grass cover needs to be maintained. Trees also remove water and can be planted outside the septic system perimeter, just be careful as roots from trees planted too close to the leach-field can clog distribution pipes and ruin your septic system.
Do Antibiotics Affect System Performance?
Prescription antibiotics and drugs are extremely hard on the microbes in the system. Flushing them into the wastewater system increases the maintenance. Visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website for information on the disposal of unused medications.
Should I Add Septic Tank Additives?
For most homeowners, septic additives are not necessary because a healthy septic system has everything it needs to perform its job of treating and getting rid of waste. In fact, some studies have shown that using septic tank additives can do more harm than good—to your tank, your drain-field, and the surrounding groundwater.

Septic Tank Maintenance

Use Water Efficiently!
The average indoor water use in a typical single-family home is nearly seventy gallons per individual, per day. Just a single leaky or running toilet can waste as much as two hundred gallons of water per day. All the water a household sends down its drains winds up in its septic system. The more water a household conserves, the less water enters the septic system. Efficient water use improves the operation of a septic system and reduces the risk of failure. Washing small loads of laundry on your washing machine’s large-load cycle wastes water and energy. By selecting the proper load size, you will reduce water waste. If you are unable to select load size, run only full loads of laundry. Try to spread washing machine use throughout the week.Toilets Are Not Trash Cans.
Septic systems are not trash cans. An easy rule of thumb: Do not flush anything besides human waste and approved toilet paper. Never flush cooking grease or oil, non-flushable wipes, such as baby wipes or other wet wipes, photographic solutions, feminine hygiene products, condoms, dental floss, diapers, cigarette butts, coffee grounds, cat litter, paper towels, pharmaceuticals, household chemicals like gasoline, oil, pesticides, antifreeze, and paint or paint thinners.Think At the Sink.
Your septic system contains a collection of living organisms that digest and treat household waste. Pouring contaminants down your drain can kill these organisms and harm your septic system. Whether you are at the kitchen sink, bathtub, or utility sink, be careful of what goes down the drain. Here is a list of some items that do not go down the drain: 

Chemical Drain Openers
Antibacterial Soap
Cooking Oil or Grease
Oil Based Paints
Latex Paint (minimal)

Eliminate or limit the use of garbage disposal. This will significantly reduce the number of fats, grease, and solids that enter your septic tank and clog its drain-field.Maintain Your Drain-Field.
Your drain-field is the component of your septic system that removes contaminants from the liquid that emerges from your septic tank. It is an important part of your septic system. Here are a few suggestions to keep a drain-field in operational condition:Do not park vehicles or drive on/over your drain-field.Plant trees the appropriate distance from your drain-field to keep roots from growing into your septic system. The type of tree will depend on the distance from the drain-field where it can be planted.Keep roof drains, sump pumps, and other rainwater drainage systems away from your drain-field area. Excess water slows down or stops the wastewater treatment process.More information on the EPA's recommendations to homeowners with septic systems can be found here:

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