Who Gives a Sh!# About Septic....You Should.
Ok, so I feel compelled to acknowledge the irony that is me writing a blog post on the very topic that I beg my children to stop talking about, particularly in public amongst strangers. I’m referring to… poop. While I could write at an old school, encyclopedia set sized, blog series on gross kid habits, I’m going to focus today on the fascinating subject of Septic Systems. What are they? How do they work? And what do you need to know?
While I am far from a septic system expert, I have had my fair share of encounters with these systems as a Realtor and a homeowner. Usually when they are failing. And right before closing day. Ha! Kidding.
Let’s start with the basics; what is a septic system and how does it work?
The abbreviated explanation is that a septic system is an underground wasterwater treatment structure in areas that are not hooked up to a centralized sewer system. The system is typically comprised of a large tank, distribution box, and leach field. There are numerous variations to this but those are the simple components.
How does it work?
The tank collects all the household waste from the sinks, showers, bathtubs and toilets. Once the waste is in the tank, it will begin to decompose. Without going too deep (ha) into the very smelly process of how the waste decomposes, just know that some of the waste will create layers of sludge and scum, which remains in the tank until it is pumped (keep reading to find out why that is BAD). Everything else that has been broken down will be clarified wastewater. The clarified wastewater is then moved to the distribution box and then into the leachfield/drain field, which is a series of underground trenches or bed lined with gravel or sand.
What you need to know:
So now that you have a general idea of what a septic system is and how it works, what are the Do Do’s (Get it? Ha, I’m as bad as my kids) of septics? I’ve reached out to one of our favorite local septic companies, Marlin Wastewater Services (marlinw.com) for their top tips for homeowners and potential home buyers to consider:
- When purchasing a home, DO make sure the septic permit is evaluated! Septic permits are issued by the county environmental health department. They determine the size of the tank that the property can handle….so do your research! You don’t want to be purchasing a 5 bedroom home for a large family if the septic can only accommodate a 3 bedroom home. Can you imagine the mess that it could potentially make?!!! Shameless Realtor plug right here…our team ALWAYS will check that out for you.
- DO know where the septic system is located on your property. Avoid planting trees in this area, as roots can wreak havoc on a system. Also avoid driving and building over these areas.
- DO get the septic system pumped and inspected when you are purchasing a home. Use your Due Diligence period to gather information on the entire property, not just the home itself. A septic pumping and inspection may run you about $500 but without it, you could be left with a hefty bill if things aren’t working correctly.
- DO pump your tank every 3-5 years. Pump it even more frequently if you have a garbage disposal or an exceptionally large family.
- And lastly, DO be mindful of the things you are putting in your sinks and toilets. That sludge and scum I referred to earlier is all the nasty grease, oil, paper products, chemicals, and whatever children decide to flush down the toilet that just sits in that tank until it is pumped. It can’t be broken down! If you ever have the chance to watch a tank be pumped out (I mean, who wouldn’t jump at that opportunity?!!), just the smell alone of it, will have you questioning what in the world your family is putting down those drains!! According to Marlins, a good rule of thumb is: if it isn’t human waste or a human would not eat it, don’t flush it.
We definitely don't know all the answers which is why we rely exclusively on Jeff at Marlin Wastewater Service! Look for them here: Marlin Wastewater Service