Monday, October 4, 2010

Living with a Septic System

You may not realize it, but if you have a septic system in your backyard, you are the owner of a small scale wastewater treatment system. As the owner you are responsible for maintaining a properly operating system to protect the health of you, your neighbors and the environment. A malfunctioning wastewater treatment system can release nutrients and pathogens which harm water quality and pose a threat to public safety.

The essentials for operating and maintaining a conventional septic system or an aerobic treatment unit start at the source of the wastewater stream. The occupants control the amount of water, organic material, and chemicals that enter the waste stream. A wastewater treatment system is designed to accept a specific volume of water and organic material. Exceeding these design volumes can have a significant impact on the performance of your system.

A wastewater treatment system relies on calm conditions to allow the separation of solids from the wastewater. These calm conditions are disrupted by excessive water usage or hydraulic loading. Doing several loads of laundry back to back in a single day can create a hydraulic overload and turn the calm conditions in the tank to whitewater rapids. When this happens, solids are not allowed to settle and will travel further down the system, possibly clogging pumps, spray heads, or drain fields.

Both conventional septic systems and aerobic treatment units are full of numerous microorganisms that are actively digesting and breaking down organic waste. These microorganisms are naturally occurring; therefore it is not necessary to pour additives, yeast or any other materials down the drains. Avoid excessive use of cleaners or toxic chemicals which can kill microorganisms.

The microorganisms in an aerobic treatment unit rely on the right mixture of food and air to stay alive and actively treat waste. The compressor in the yard supplies the air and the residents supply the food. A system is organically overloaded when there is more organic material than the microorganisms can treat and digest. This results in a quicker accumulation of solids and the need for more frequent maintenance. A kitchen garbage disposal can significantly increase the amount of organic loading and may reduce the pump out intervals by 1 to 2 years.

Even though an aerobic treatment unit contains a disinfection devise such as an ultra violet lamp or chlorine, the water exiting the spray heads may still contain potentially harmful pathogens. Maintaining a healthy vegetative cover in the spray field will remove excess water, nutrients, and allow the final treatment processes to occur in the soil.

Being mindful of what goes down your drain is a simple yet important step in managing your septic system or aerobic treatment unit. Maintaining your system will result in higher satisfaction, improved performance and protect environmental health. For more information visit


  1. This is a great article, and of course you point out the great benefit of aerobic wastewater treatment - it's a natural way to reduce pollution.

    Claudius Jaeger, Jaeger Aeration

  2. Wow what a nice post i am so inspired here could you more share here i will be back to you as soon as possible.
    Thanks for sharing..


  3. This article is very informative and gives a vast knowledge about septic systems. In septic systems we need to do periodically pumping of the septic tank.

    wastewater treatment systems

  4. I represent Excavating NJ Inc., and we provide many services including septic inspections. Because of some of the same reasons that are described in this article, we got certified and are now able to offer a septic insurance warranty. If Excavating NJ Inc. does a septic inspection and the system passes, we can submit our report to the insurance company and the home owner can purchase an insurance warranty. The cost is only $200/yr and it covers the home owner up to $25,000 in damages if the septic system fails. Check with septic inspectors in your area and see if they offer the same service, if not just contact us, and we can forward the information to the insurance company and they will contact you directly.

  5. Thank you for sharing. Nutrient removal is becoming a growing challenge for operators of anaerobic digestors at cattle and dairy farms. Removal of nutrients in wastewater is costly.

  6. Hi there! glad to drop by your page and found these very interesting and informative stuff. Thanks for sharing, keep it up!

    - nutrients in wastewater