Septic Systems

  • Septic Systems

    Septic Systems

    The Office of Wastewater Management estimate that 20% of all US housing units had septic systems in 2007.  Not surprising, it further found that 46% of those were located in the South.  With the prevalence of those systems, is amazing how ignorant the general population is about how they work.  It is an important consideration when buying a septic systems athens gapiece of property.  For undeveloped land, to know whether or not the property can handle such a system is of paramount importance.  Equally important is the understanding when buying a residential property.  To know how to investigate if an existing system is operating properly or correctly sized is a prime piece of knowledge to have prior to buying.

    Few of us actually want to be “experts” in this subject. However to avoid purchasing unknowingly properties that are ill-suited or having a system fail on an existing property due to poor soil conditions, necessitate learning at least at some level the mechanics of the system.  Although this doesn’t happen often, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  In either situation, prospective buyer or existing owner,  poorly designed systems as well as poorly maintained ones can become quite expensive to rectify.  Even in some cases it may make the property unbuildable if it is a lot or uninhabitable if it occurs with an existing house.

    To gain sufficient knowledge to adequately appraise the situation requires information related to three primary areas.  The first is how septic systems work,  The second is system design and installation and the third is system maintenance.  Each area will be covered in the following posts and on the other pages of this site.  Rapid Rooter in Athens GA specializes in all three areas.



  • Sufficiency of Septic System

    Is The Existing System Sufficient For The House?

    Two factors determine whether a properly constructed septic system is able to effectively take care of all the wastewater coming from a household. These are 1) the size of the septic tank and 2) a properly constructed distribution system and its corresponding leach field so designed that it can treat the incoming wastewater.

    How can you identify if the septic system in place is large enough for the home? Georgia’s current policies need a septic tank to be a minimum of 1,000 gallons for a home having up to three bedrooms. For each added bed room over three you would add 250 gallons to the required tank size. The final number should then be increased once more by a minimum of 50 % if the house has a waste disposal unit, because that significantly adds to the amount of solid material the system should process.

    Ground Filtration
    In the 2nd phase of the treatment process the wastewater either flows or is pumped to a distribution system of perforated pipes buried in gravel-lined trenches in an absorption field. How big a field is needed, and where should it be positioned, to effectively treat the effluent the soil gets? That is identified primarily by four aspects: (1) how fast the soil can take in water; (2) the depth of the groundwater on the site (and any seasonal depth changes); (3) just how much water the system is anticipated to deal with every day; and (4) the topography of the land. The data from these 4 aspects are utilized to determine the total size of the drain field that is required for a particular property. Let’s talk about these factors in more specificity.

    Soil Percolation Rates.
    You have probably heard house inspectors or others refer to the “percolation rate” of soil. That term describes how quick water can be taken in by the soil, revealed as the time it takes for water in a test hole to decrease in level by one inch (minutes/inch). Soil engineers (or other persons accredited to do so by the County) can identify the percolation rate of the soil in the leach field.

    Soil Test

    soil test

    Percolation rates might vary between 5 inches/ minute and 90 inches/minute and still be within guidelines, depending upon other factors. The faster the soil drains, the larger the trench location (drain field) needs to be. This is since fast-draining soil is less dense, and has less ability to effectively filter huge quantities of wastewater. By enhancing the general size of the drain field, each square foot of ground is required to do less filtration and the wastewater can be adequately filtered by the larger amount of ground before reaching any groundwater.

    Depth of Underground Water Table.
    A soil engineer also identifies the minimum depth of the underground water table on the land. It must be identified that there is an adequate layer of soil in between it and the distribution pipelines to effectively filter out bacterial and viral pollutants before the wastewater rejoins the groundwater.

    Expected Water Usage.
    The size of the home, for figuring out the size of a septic system, is measured by how many bedrooms there are and the existence or absence of a garbage disposal system as discussed above. That will identify how many gallons each day a system is likely to process each day.

    The presence of rocks, trees, other homes, or neighboring waterways or wells have to likewise be thought about due to DHS guidelines. For example, drainfields have to be at least 100 feet from drinking water sources, 50 feet from streams or ponds, and 10 feet from water lines. If the property owner is thinking about purchasing equipment that uses well water, they will obviously wish to be particular that the leachfield was effectively laid out and constructed in order to protect their drinking water.

    As you can determine, this is a complicated process. Now that you have an idea of how a septic system works and the amount of information needed to plan for efficient processing of the wastewater.

  • Ground Filtration

    Phase II – Filtration

    In the first post in this series, the first stage of the treatment process was discussed.  Basically, the concept is that the wastewater from the plumbing systems exits the house via a pipe and through the power of gravity, flows into the septic tank.  Over a relatively short period of time, the waste becomes separated into liquids and solids.  After this the second stage of treatment takes place and what follows is an explanation of this second leg.

    For the second stage of the treatment procedure (the filtration process) the effluent flows from the septic tank to the leach (absorption) field where it is eventually soaked up and dealt with by the dirt. If the absorption area is uphill from the septic system, the water initially moves right into a separate storage tank called a dosing storage tank. A pump then relocates the liquid to the distribution system in the absorption field for handling by the dirt. If no pump is required, the effluent will merely leave the septic tank (via a pipeline developed to permit only the effluent to leave), and will then proceed via a pipeline to the absorption field. A typical absorption field houses a system of perforated pipelines buried in trenches. The bottom of the trenches are filled with crushed stones or a similar product to ensure that the pipelines do not become obstructed and to allow for equal distribution of the wastewater into the dirt. As the water “percolates” down through the ground, the soil itself functions as a filter removing damaging bacteria, viruses, etc. from the effluent, prior to it eventually entering the underground water system.
    There are numerous designs that can be utilized for the absorption field. Numerous ones consist of specific trenches as described in the previous paragraph, although they may be set in place in different ways as needed by the topography. Some systems might make use of a seepage pit instead, where the effluent empties into a large pit with a perforated or open-jointed cellular lining which permits the effluent to seep into the surrounding ground. These generally call for a lot less land area, however are only a good idea when normal absorption areas are not viable and also wells are not threatened. A specific home owner (or potential purchaser) ought to know specifically how the particular system on a lot is outlined, how it runs, as well as how to ideally keep it.

    This completes the basics of a septic system.

  • Introduction to Septic Systems

    Phase I – Sedimentation

    Septic tanks are used where public sewage systems are not offered, and also usually contain four elements: (1) a pipeline from the home to the septic tank, (2) the tank itself (more recent systems in Georgia are called for to have a two-chamber tank), (3) the leach or absorption field, and (4) the ground into which the wastewater at some point drains. A regular system utilizes gravitational force to move the wastewater through the system; however, sometimes a pump could be needed to relocate the wastewater from the tank to the absorption area.  For a more complete explanation, a plumber in the Athens area can provide you with up-to-date information as to the specifics of the local health code.

    These 4 parts make use of 2 primary procedures to treat the wastewater: sedimentation and also soil purification. This article will address the first part of the process, namely sedimentation.  The other part will be discussed in the following article.

    During the first sedimentation stage of the procedure all waste products from a residence’s plumbing system (all sinks, bath tubs, showers, commodes, washers, etc.) moves with a big pipeline which empties into the septic tank. The main objective of the tank is to enable the splitting up of the solids from the liquids. Over a duration of 24 hours approximately, any type of solid matter will certainly fall to the bottom of the tank where it is collected as sludge and also will be partly disolved by microorganisms in the wastewater. The fluid wastewater, described as effluent, builds up above the sludge. Any type of oils or oil will certainly rise to the top and produce a layer of scum on top of the sludge. A sewage-disposal tank will commonly house baffles to maintain the sludge as well as the scum from leaving the tank. (In the more recent two-chamber tanks, there is a position that enables the effluent to move into the second chamber, where more settling takes place separating more solids from the wastewater).