Q&a: How Does a Septic System Work?

Question Asked by : How does a septic system work?
I understand how they work on the inside, what I am really wondering is how does the waste get from your toilet to your tank? Do you need electricity to run the water in your house which allows the waste to go through the pipes into the tank? Are there ways to flush a toilet without power and have it go into the tank?

Best answer:

Answer by fluffernut
Septic system are generally gravity fed, no electricity needed. Waste from the house goes into a “vault”…….a big concrete…..sometimes plastic vault. There it settles. Solids settle to the bottom and water rises. This is black water, not suitable for drinking! The water then flows out of the vault through pipes that are laid out in the drainage field. The pipes have holes in them and the black water deposited into the soil. Assuming you don’t have a high water table, the water then filters down through the soil.

Back at the vault, the “solids” build up over time……maybe a year or two to where they may threaten to flow into the pipes out to the drainage field. Not good. Instead you contact a septic cleaner…pumper who comes and sticks a big hose down through the top of the vault…..there’s a door or some such……..a sucks all the solids into a tank and drives away. You pay for the service.

Remember it’s all gravity……just as the stuff in cities………it is gravity to the city sewer lines.

Now there are systems that use pumps to pump uphill. We just happen to be on such a system. To the road, is gravity, but once in the “main line” it works on vacuum from pump stations about the valley to pull the material pumping stations and from there up hill to the sewage treatment plant. We are still gravity, but after that it does take power.

picture: http://www.epa.gov/owm/septic/pubs/homeowner_guide_long.pdf

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