The first thing about diagnosing your problem within your sewer or septic system is having a basic knowledge of how it works. I will discuss in this blog the difference between a sewer and a septic system and how they are built.
A sewer line is a solid pipe that goes from your house,generally in one place,but in older residences may have several hook ups going into one line from your different restrooms and laundry rooms into a public sewage disposal system usually located in the street. The sewage is then taken into a processing facility where the water is reconditioned and re-used in non potable applications. In many older homes the pipe was made out of concrete and is very easily damaged. New age detergents that we use to wash our clothes and dishes actually break down the concrete in many cases leaving just hardened soil for your sewage to flow through and completely disintegrate the pipe. Another common problem with concrete pipe is that roots can easily grow through the fittings where two pipes join together. Now a days pvc (plastic) pipe is used and is designed to last a lot longer.
A septic system is a system that takes all the water and waste out of your house and goes into a tank, that goes out to a drain field to disperse of the liquid and the solid waste stays inside the tank to be pumped out by a company later on.
Here is a look at a “TIGHT LINE” from your house to the septic. As you notice right where it comes out from the house there is no “ clean out” which is a very important piece to this system because if there is a blockage in this line there is no way to access the pipe to try to jet it out or snake it, therefore leaving you with the cost to replace the whole pipe.
Here are a few images of a septic tank:
Now there are several different types of tanks, some are plastic and some are concrete
with many different options for sizes and different configurations as to whether its a gravity or a pump system. A gravity system is one that has a pipe at a lower elevation than the one that enters from your house, allowing it to drain quicker than it fills up that transports the solids by gravity into your drain field. A pump system which may be used for numerous different reasons has a pump in a second tank that takes your fluids and pumps them into your drainfield.
The drainfield itself is generally a series of pipes or chambers that disperses your fluids evenly.
These are two different types of fields that complete the same funtion. Drainfields are designed to only disperse fluids and with a proper working septic tank that is all the field should be receiving.
This should give you a basic idea of what your systems are and what type of system you are on. In later blogs I will break down problem areas and what may be causing the problems.