How Septics Work

The new Local Coastal Plan (LCP) stipulates that all new homes must install certified septic systems and provide for periodic inspections.

Septic Systems Explained

septic_systemA septic system is a highly efficient, self-contained, underground wastewater treatment system. Because septic systems treat and dispose of household wastewater onsite, they are often more economical than centralized sewer systems in rural areas where lot sizes are larger and houses are spaced widely apart. Septic systems are also simple in design, which make them generally less expensive to install and maintain. And by using natural processes to treat the wastewater onsite, usually in a homeowner’s backyard, septic systems don’t require the installation of miles of sewer lines, making them less disruptive to the environment.

A septic system consists of two main parts-a septic tank and a drainfield. The septic tank is a watertight box, usually made of concrete or fiberglass, with an inlet and outlet pipe. Wastewater flows from the home to the septic tank through the sewer pipe. The septic tank treats the wastewater naturally by holding it in the tank long enough for solids and liquids to separate. The wastewater forms three layers inside the tank. Solids lighter than water (such as greases and oils) float to the top forming a layer of scum. Solids heavier than water settle at the bottom of the tank forming a layer of sludge. This leaves a middle layer of partially clarified wastewater.

The layers of sludge and scum remain in the septic tank where bacteria found naturally in the wastewater work to break the solids down. The sludge and scum that cannot be broken down are retained in the tank until the tank is pumped. The layer of clarified liquid flows from the septic tank to the drainfield or to a distribution device, which helps to uniformly distribute the wastewater in the drainfield. A standard drainfield (also known as a leachfield) is a series of trenches or a bed lined with gravel or course sand and buried one to three feet below the ground surface. Perforated pipes or drain tiles run through the trenches to distribute the wastewater. The drainfield treats the wastewater by allowing it to slowly trickle from the pipes out into the gravel and down through the soil. The gravel and soil act as biological filters.

To see photos of actual septic system installations, please see our GALLERY.

Septic System Failures and New Requirements

If liquid from the septic is surfacing or soft spots appear in the soil over the disposal field; if liquid or soft spots appear over the septic tank; if slow draining starts occurring with plumbing fixtures; if you hear strange noises and gurgling in the plumbing lines; if there is a backup of the plumbing in the house; or, you encounter septic odors in or around the house–These are signs of septic failure and an expert should be called in immediately.

Biomat is the material formed by a vast population of bacteria colonies that move from your septic tank in to your leach field. These colonies, over time and in the absence of regular pumping and maintenance, can clog your leach field. The new systems, such as those made by Advantex and MicroSepTec, considerably reduce these colonies. We also install other systems that can increase the life of your existing system.

Green Septic Solutions

The Jet Residential Wastewater Treatment Plant is the cleaner, lower-odor, lower-maintenance alternative to traditional septic systems. The Jet system uses an exclusive wastewater treatment process called “Biologically Accelerated Treatment” or BAT. In this process, millions of microorganisms attach themselves to the media. The Jet Aerator supplies the oxygen utilized by the microorganisms to convert the waste to colorless, odorless liquids and gases. The process provides an extraordinarily high degree of treatment.

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The Jet Residential Wastewater Treatment Plant

Jet’s residential wastewater treatment plant breaks down wastes via a three compartment tank. A pre-treatment compartment receives influent where heavy solids settle and form sludge at the bottom of the tank. The second compartment of Jet’s residential wastewater treatment plant is the treatment compartment. Here wastewater or grey water is thoroughly mixed with oxygen via a 700++ aerator and passed over the living microorganisms located on Jet’s BAT (Biologically Accelerated Treatment) media. This is an exclusive process designed and developed by Jet Inc. and is more efficient than the pure activated sludge plants that Jet pioneered years ago. Treated wastewater or grey water then flows to the settling compartment. A clear liquid, devoid of color and odor, known as effluent, is then discharged through the baffled outlet.

According to their website “a Jet home wastewater treatment plant does a whole lot more than the old-fashioned septic tanks of yesterday. A Jet home wastewater treatment plant is capable of treating 500 to 1,500 gallons of wastewater each and every day. That’s the size of a small swimming pool or thirty 50 gallon hot-water heaters, all capable of high volume usage. Studies show that a Jet home wastewater treatment plant operates up to 5 times longer than a septic tank! Also, changes in flow by weekend guests, parties, multiple baths, laundry and dishwashers all running at once DO NOT effect the performance of a Jet home wastewater treatment plant.”

How the Sludgehammer works.

How the Sludgehammer works.

Another green system septic solution is the SludgeHammer. It grows a powerful species of natural bacteria, a form of microbe, in your septic tank. The active unit sits on the bottom of your septic tank. The SludgeHammer converts your entire septic system into a self-cleaning green machine that cleanses the environment, removes toxins and reduces health risks.

  • Saves property owners thousands of dollars while operating for pennies a day
  • Lowers health risks by significantly reducing toxins
  • Restores failed systems and shows improvement immediately
  • No plans, trenches, or homeowner maintenance required
  • Dramatically reduces ground water contamination
  • Installs in one day within existing septic tank
  • Odors eliminated, tank pumping reduced
  • No heavy equipment required, landscaping undisturbed
  • Environmentally safe, IAPMO and NSF40 certified
  • Methane gas reduced by a factor of twenty
  • To date, the only system in the world to reduce tank nitrogen by 95%

With the installation of the SludgeHammer’s Aerobic Bacterial Generator (ABG), organic waste is digested and converted into water. An air pump drives the effluent into the ABG and exposes it to the special bacteria blend that continuously devours the waste. This operation aerates and inoculates the entire tank. The effluent then migrates to the disposal field cleaning and refreshing the soil by eliminating biomat.