What is a Septic System?
Septic systems have been installed since the late 1800’s replacing the old outsite facility commonly known as the outhouse.
A septic system on Long Island usually consists of a primary receiver (septic tank) and a drainage area (cesspool or drainage field). Homes constructed after 1972 will have a septic tank as the primary receiver. Some homes built prior to 1972 will have a cesspool as a primary receiver. Most homes have a septic tank serving as the primary receiver and a cesspool or multiple cesspools serving as the drainage area. If properly installed and maintained on a regular basis, your septic system will provide many years of trouble free use.
How Do Septic Systems Work?
Waste water leaves your home through a pipeline called the main line, then enters the septic tank (primary receiver). The septic tank holds the waste for primary treatment where solids and liquids are separated by gravity. The heavy digested solids called sludge accumulate at the bottom of the tank. The lighter materials (grease and oils) are called a scum layer that floats to the top of the liquid. Natural bacteria generated by the solid waste partially decomposes the waste in the septic tank and reduces the amount of solid materials by as much as 60%. The septic tank is only one part of your septic system. It is designed to remove the solids from your waste water as shown above, prior to the waste water entering the cesspool (drainage area). Solids and sludge should be pumped from the septic tank every 2 years (as recommended by the county health department) by a licensed septic hauler to prevent solid materials from entering the cesspool. This will avoid costly repairs to the cesspool drainage area commonly referred to as the overflow.
What is an Overflow?
The cesspool (drainage area) commonly referred to as an overflow is designed to leach water only. The cesspool should revise water only – solid waste will clog drainage area. The homeowner should have their pumping contractor inspect the overflow system when the solids and sludge are pumped from the septic tank to insure proper drainage. If it is determined that the overflow requires service, the homeowner may elect pumping, aeration and application of drainage additives to the overflow to restore drainage.