5 Tips for Understanding How a Septic System Works

The septic system is an important sanitation component to keep your home livable. It helps eliminate wastewater from your house efficiently and in an eco-friendly fashion. The system contains a large-volume tank that treats the wastewater before disposal. Often, you’ll need a septic system if you live in an area with no connection to the municipal sewer line. According to EPA, one in five homes use an onsite septic system to manage their wastewater. Proper use of septic systems can promote public health by reducing water contamination and eliminating pollution. We are here for you if you wonder how your septic system works. To understand how septic systems work, knowing their components is crucial.

What are the five essential parts of a septic system?

Your septic system plays a strategic role in ensuring the highest sanitation standards in your home. A healthy sewage system can last long without any problems—ideally, it can last up to 30 years when you perform timely maintenance. Let’s look at the various septic system components to understand how it works. 

The drain line

The drain line is one of the crucial parts of your septic system, and it connects your toilet, sinks, tubs, kitchen plumbing, and laundry room drainers. It then moves the wastewater to the septic tank. Keeping your drains clog-free at all times is vital to avoid wastewater backup. Most septic issues can start with the drain line due to the things you flush down. 

Ensure that no solids like wipes, toys, diapers, feminine products, etc., go down the drain line. Grease, soap, and hair can also block the system, making it hard for the wastewater to pass to the septic tank. 

Septic tank

The septic tank is the reservoir that holds and treats the household wastewater before it moves to the next stage. Septic tank capacity varies depending on the home size—it can range from 750 to 2,500 gallons. This component holds the wastewater as the bacteria inside breaks down the solids before discharging it to the drain field. 

Technically, the solids, also known as sludge, settle at the bottom of the septic tank. They’re comprised of inorganic and solids digested by bacteria. At the top of the tank is the scum containing oils, fats, and grease at the top of the tank. Having enough colonies of bacteria in the septic tank is vital. The purpose of the bacteria is to digest and break down the solids in the tank. 

Distribution box

The wastewater leaves your septic tank and enters the distribution box. This component discharges the effluents into the drain field, also known as the leach field. The distribution box size and shape depend on the septic tank size. This part of the septic system is often made of concrete, usually smaller than the septic tank. A functional distribution box shouldn’t overflow with wastewater; if that happens, the drain field has an issue. One of the problems can be clogged drain field lines, which need immediate attention from a qualified plumbing technician.

Drain field

The drain field/leach field features perforated pipes buried underground. About two inches of gravel cover it, which helps filter the wastewater into the soil. As the effluent passes through the perforated lines, it creates a slime mat that completes the final purification of the wastewater. 

Should there be water on top of your drain field? No! If your drain field floods, the perforated pipes aren’t working, perhaps due to tree roots blocking them. 

Effluent treatment in the soil.

Once the wastewater leaves the drainpipes, it seeps through the gravel and into the soil. The soil bacteria and critters digest any remaining solids, converting them into useful nutrients for plants. This process results in clean water that comes in contact with the groundwater. Some evaporate or get absorbed by plants.

Understanding How a Septic System Works is Key to Proper Maintenance

Once you understand how a septic system works, you know proper care and maintenance is a must. Let Casa Grande Septic Service help you with all your septic repair and maintenance needs. Contact us today!


7324 S. Linda Lou Road, Eloy, AZ 85131

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