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Never Had A Septic System Before? What You Should Know

You’ve finally accomplished a long-held dream: you own a house in the country. But wait–there are no sewers? What’s a septic system? Read on to learn more about how septic systems work, why more places in the world need to have them, and a few more interesting facts about these alternatives to city sewers.

How Do Septic Systems Work?

A septic system takes the place of public sewers that carry waste from your home. Instead, the waste goes into a septic tank where the sludge (worst part of the waste) sinks to the bottom, and the water remains at the top. The water is then carried away to a drain field via pipes with perforations at the end to allow the water to run out gradually.

Key takeaway: When you purchase property with a septic system, make sure you know where the tank and the drain field are located, so you don’t build or dig over them.

Why Are Septic Systems Important?

Septic systems are a viable alternative to sewers in rural areas or places where conventional sewer piping isn’t feasible. Versions of septic systems are used on cruise ships, for example, but the water is dumped or recycled instead of being emptied into a drain field.

Septic systems are also vital to preventing waste-borne illnesses in developing countries. Each year 2.2 million people die, a large percentage children, from gastrointestinal diseases caused by contaminated water from sewage dumped in the environment. This could be prevented by using relatively inexpensive, portable, and easy-to-assemble septic systems in third world countries.

Key takeaway: When traveling in developing countries, be careful about swimming in public waters and know where your drinking water comes from. Support global initiatives to bring proper hygiene to everyone in all countries, and choose lodging that follows standards recommended by the World Health Organization.

Are Septic Systems Safe?

Septic systems are safe when used properly and installed and cared for by professionals. Failure to maintain septic tanks and self-cleaning attempts can result in fatalities, as in Poland where seven people died due to deadly fumes created by the breakdown of sewage.

Key takeaway: Never try to clean your own septic tank. If someone does fall in while servicing yours, never try to perform a rescue yourself–call 911 for rescuers trained in confined space rescue with hazardous materials. Make sure your septic tank is secure, and don’t let children play on or near it.

What Do I Need to Do to My Septic System?

The sludge from the bottom of your septic tank needs to be pumped out periodically. Have yours checked annually to see when it’s time to pump it–this can vary depending on your system, the number of people in your household, and the amount of waste you produce. The pumped sludge can be treated, used, or dumped according to your municipality and Federal regulations.

Key takeaway: Take care of your septic system, and it will take care of you. Have it serviced regularly, and remember that everything you put down your drain winds up there. Never put food, grease, or chemicals down your drain, and your system will function better with toilet paper designed especially for septic tanks.

While there have been disasters around the globe involving septic systems, when used properly they are a true blessing for homeowners. If you smell sewage or have water rising above your drain field, call a septic professional like Mr Bob. The worst septic disaster for you could be your system backing up into your house. With care and attention, that should never happen.

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