Understanding how a septic system works is vital to maintaining one. In this post, we’re going to take a deeper dive into how your septic system functions and the finer points of septic system care, so you’ll have a better idea of what you need to do to keep it working properly.

All systems work first by separating the solids from the liquids. This is accomplished by the use of a baffle in the center of the septic tank, which has two chambers: one called the primary; and one called the secondary. This allows solids to settle in the primary side of the tank, by using a baffle separating the tank’s two chambers. The solids that remain in the tank are then consumed by aerobic and anaerobic bacteria.

In the secondary side of the septic tank, there is a different type of baffle that’s attached to the outgoing pipe. It further separates any remaining solids from entering the drain field, leach field or drainage structure.

Effluent is the liquid that leaves the tank. This effluent contains both organic material and sodium; it’s these two compounds that affect the performance of your drainage field, causing failure at some point.

The Problem

Hardpan soil, formed when sodium combines with soil, causes a high percentage of drain field failure. The second cause of drain field failure is when organic (i.e. grease) overloading occurs.

While the amount of grease that goes in a drain field can be controlled, sodium is a little more difficult to control. Sodium comes from our diets, the soaps we use, our medications, our water supply and our water softeners. Directing water softeners elsewhere is difficult, because of other hazards associated with salt brine.

The Solution

Luckily, septic system care isn’t rocket science. The single biggest thing you can do to maintain your drain field is to have it pumped and inspected every two years. Leave a small amount of solids in the tank to ensure you have an active colony of bacteria present. Some other things you can do include:

  • Making sure your baffles are intact, which will help prevent any solids from entering your drain field pipes.
  • Every five years it’s important to flush out your drainage pipes, or flush out your wet well, using a high-pressure sewer jet or a pressure washer.
  • To jet out your drain lines, open your distribution box or dry well to pressure wash the walls.
  • Look for signs of concrete erosion. This indicates the last stage of septic failure, when your system’s rotting sewage creates hydrogen sulfide gas, which erodes concrete.
  • Treating your soil and taking care of the biological heath of your system will help ensure your drain field performs for years to come.

Need Help Now?

If your system is showing signs of failure, have your system’s drain pipes jetted out, or your dry well walls pressure-washed, and then add four gallons of Septic Drainer evenly in your drain field pipes or directly in your dry well. The rule of thumb is to add a gallon of Septic Drainer for every 50 feet of 4-inch piping, or for every foot depth of dry well. Also add 1/2 quart (or 16 ounces) of Bio-Septic Boost for every 1,000-gallon septic tank, and then add 3.2 ounces per month for five months in your toilet.

Ongoing Septic System Care

For maintenance, add a gallon of Septic Drainer in your toilet every three to six months, and add 2.5 ounces of Bio-Septic Boost in your toilet monthly. Every five years, add four gallons of Septic Drainer directly in your drain pipes or dry well, after jetting the drain lines or pressure-washing your dry well. Add 1/2 quart of Bio-Septic Boost in your tank and then 3.2 ounces in your toilet for the next five months.

For more information on Bio-Septic Boost, visit its dedicated product website.