Johnson's Sanitation Service Ltd.

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General Maintenance

What Are The Components Of A Typical Home’s Private Sewage Treatment System?

Septic Tank

The septic tank is a separating tank with 2 functions. The first is to separate solids from liquids. Septic tanks digest and break down solid wastes. 40% of solid wastes are reduced by anaerobic bacteria. The second function is having liquids get to the drain field (trench, bed or seepage pit) where they are purified. First, liquids from the house go into the septic tank, then to the distribution box, finally reaching the drain field to be purified.

Septic tanks must be water tight so ground water is not contaminated. Private sewage treatment systems are not designed to handle storm water, just household water. Clear or rain water overloads a system.

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Septic Tank Estimated Servicing Chart
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Drain Fields/Absorption Systems

After being separated from the solids, the liquids which come from the septic tank (effluents) are disposed of in the soil absorption system.  The effluent is purified by the soil before reaching ground water.  You may need a lift pump station if the effluent cannot flow by gravity to the field.

Checklist When Purchasing A Home With A Septic System. Ask these questions.

What is the age of the system?

What is the size of the system?

Have there been any previous problems?

Has sewage ever backed into the house?

Is there a maintenance record?

When was the septic tank last pumped?

Make sure the septic tank is accessible for pumping. Fully check the system.  Locate the soil absorption field and check the grounds for seeping effluent. Have a professional check to make sure the septic system is properly sited. Determine what needs to be done, if anything, before you buy the house.

Holding Tanks

A holding tank is not a septic system.  Holding tanks are used only when an onsite wastewater disposal system cannot be installed on the property due to shallow bedrock, shallow ground water, etc.  A holding tank stores all household wastes.  When the tank is filled, it must be pumped and the wastes taken to an approved disposal field or municipal treatment plant.