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Septic Systems in Vero Beach

Septic Systems in Vero Beach
What is a Septic System?
The septic system and tank serves as a settling basin where solids accumulate and gradually get broken down by bacterial action.
Some of the solid waste is actually liquefied by this 'natural bacterial decomposition," however the rest of the waste accumulates in the bottom as a layer of sludge. Additionally, a small percentage of this, waste (mostly fats and oils) float to the top of the tank to form a layer of semi-solid scum.
How Does a Septic System Work?
The population living in metropolitan areas (who have never had the pleasure of maintaining a septic system, or who have never experienced waddling in their leachfield, or even had the experience of pumping out their systems) simply flush their toilets and "away go troubles down the drain." Those of us living in more rural areas have been forced to learn about the maintenance and working of the sewerage treatment facility attached to our home, "the septic system." Usually a septic tank is connected to a drainage field or seepage pit of some kind. If properly maintained, a well-designed system will last almost indefinitely. However, if it is neglected for too long a time, it can back up and clog the drainage field. This neglect can result in an expensive excavation and even a replacement of the drainpipes that could cost thousands of dollars.
Design of a Septic System Tank
Although designs vary, most septic tanks consist of a watertight, below ground, tank that has one or two manhole covers (buried a few inches below ground) to provide access for cleaning and inspection. Effluent from the house flows into the tank through an inlet pipe near the top on one side. It flows out through a discharge or overflow pipe at the other side. The pipe may end in a large tee-fitting or into a baffle (wall) preventing the effluent from flowing straight across from one pipe to the other.

The incoming effluent will be diverted downward with a minimum of splashing, allowing the solids to sink to the bottom.

Outgoing effluent is drawn from several feet below the top layer of the floating waste (grease, oil, scum) so that only liquid waste or solids that have been liquefied by the bacterial action going on at the bottom of the septic tank (which we will come back to this point later) are discharged out into the drainage field.

Componants of a Sewage Treatment System
A typical household sewage treatment system consists of a house sewer, septic tank, distribution box and absorption field or seepage pit.

House Sewer - The pipeline connecting the house and drain and the septic tank.

Septic Tank - Untreated liquid household wastes (sewage) will quickly clog your absorption field if not properly treated. The septic tank provides this needed treatment. When sewage enters the septic tank, the heavy solids settle to the bottom of the tank; the lighter solids, fats and greases partially decompose and rise to the surface and form a layer of scum. The solids that have settled to the bottom are attacked by bacteria and form sludge. Septic tanks do not remove bacteria and, therefore, what is discharged cannot be considered safe.

Distribution Box - Serves to distribute the flow from the septic tank evenly to the absorption field or seepage pits. It is important that each trench or pit receive an equal
amount of flow. This prevents overloading of one part of the system.

Absorption Field - A system of narrow trenches partially filled with a bed of washed gravel or crushed stone into which perforated or open joint pipe is placed. The discharge from the septic tank is distributed through these pipes into trenches and surrounding soil. The subsurface absorption field must be properly sized and constructed. While seepage pits normally require less land area to install, they should be used only where absorption fields are not suitable and well-water supplies are not endangered.

Cesspools - Work in a similar manner to septic systems. Sewage water usually seeps through the open bottom and portholes in the sides of the walls. These can also clog up with overuse and the introduction of detergents and other material which slow up the bacterial action.

When the sewage backup occurs, homeowners usually have the system pumped out. Pumping out will only relieve the system temporarily. The clogged pores in the ground remain and eventually the system will have to be pumped again and again.

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