The septic tank and pump system is an extraordinary technology for today’s living, outside of the city. If it didn’t exist, you’d see all houses outside of city limits, still using “outhouses”. Could you imagine, walking outside every time you had to go to the bathroom? Especially during the wintertime in Pierce and King County of Washington State. Brrrrrrrr.

The point of a septic system is to dispose of your household’s waste. Much like a sewer does for those living in the city. So look at it exactly like that: a personal sewer system.

To begin, the waste travels through the pipes from your home, directly to the main pipe, which then goes to the first compartment of the septic tank.

In the first compartment, the waste separates into 3 distinct layers: the sludge layer (bottom), the clear zone (middle), the scum layer (bottom). 

The sludge sinks to the bottom since it’s heavier than water, and slowly degrades over time, then eventually suspends into the clear zone.

The clear zone contains many naturally occurring bacteria, that can continue to break down all suspending waste.

The scum layer contains oils, greases, and all material that is lighter than water. Here, other types of bacteria exist to help break down material even more. So, as the material sits in this chamber it is continually broken down and eventually goes into the second chamber, where it does the same thing! As you can imagine, the first chamber contains a majority of the “sludge”.

A minimal text infographic of a contemporary septic tank system. The image depicts a process that begins with a flushing toilet and flows to an underground system of containment and diffusion of sanitary waste.

Depending on the type of system you have, the pump is located in the second chamber, and at certain times of the day, it pumps out the broken down liquid out to the drain field or “leach field” system.

These days, the leach field system design can differ. Often you’ll see a pipe come from the septic tank towards the field, then split off into a T, then several perforated pipes can come off the T. The waste liquid is able to leave the final perforated pipes and is put into gravel, sand, or depending on the type of pipes, just the underground soil.

Sand is often used in these septic systems, due to its natural ability to break material down to its finest state.

And that is how your on-site sewage aka septic system works!

Who Needs a Septic System?

Typically, homes within city limits are attached to the city sewer. Homes outside the city would have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to get the sewer to them, and that’s even if it were possible. 

So, if you want to live outside the city and are nowhere near the city sewer, you will have to get approved for septic installation before you’re able to build a home.

Also, if you live out of the city and you want to split up your land into separate lots, you’ll need to confirm you can put septic on the new proposed lots.

Need help getting the design process started?

If you’re looking to build on a piece of property, we are ready to help! It’s very important to evaluate your land before you even think about building. Also, you don’t want to spend time meeting and dealing with the County! The great thing is, we’ll handle that for you.

Give us a call at (253) 785-9949 or fill out the contact form for a free quote!


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