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Frederick Plumbing Tip: Septic System Basics

Have you ever wondered what happens to waste water when it leaves your Frederick home? How does it become safe for consumption again and return to the water supply? The basics of this process are summarized below.

In the Septic Tank

The role of your Frederick septic tank is to hold on to some of the waste that separates naturally from the water before it moves on. What typically happens in a the waste water system of a private home is that the water flows from the toilet or drain into the septic tank. Usually, this flow is directed by gravity alone, although there may be a pump involved when a fixture is lower than the level of the septic tank– if you have a basement bathroom, for example.

Once the water is in the septic tank, much of the oil, grease and solid waste is separated from the waste water, as it settles due to gravity. Some preliminary treatment of the water may also eliminate microbes within the septic tank. The waste water is therefore significantly cleaner when it flows to the next step in the waste treatment process.

The Leach Field

With the solid deposits left behind, the material that leaves the septic tank is just liquid. From there, it flows into the leach field, which is a collection of networked pipes. These pipes are perforated, allowing the waste water to leach out into the surrounding gravel and into a trench system. This leach process provides another level of filtration, as any tiny solid bits still suspended in the waste water are filtered out naturally by the sediment and gravel of the leach field.

End of the Cycle

From the leach field, the twice filtered liquid begins its return to nature. In addition to the solid filtration provided by the gravel, there are bacteria and other microbes that grow around the leach field which consume some of the lingering toxins in the water. Nitrates, nitrites and other pathogens are all digested and filtered out of the water by these organisms as it travels from the leach field through the trench system and back into the water table.

Keep in mind that these are just the basics of waste water treatment as they apply to one type of private residential setup. Waste water treatment systems may vary, and some areas require more advanced waste water techniques to fully clean and filter the water for consumption. If you need your Frederick septic tank repaired or replaced, give Larry & Sons Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning a call!