Know the Parts of a Septic System

Septic pipe in the ground

A septic system is a big responsibility, and its complexity can leave some homeowners feeling overwhelmed. Understanding  its parts and how they work can make maintenance easier. Here are the septic terms you should know:

  • Tank: The septic tank is a buried, watertight container typically made of concrete, fiberglass or polyethylene. It is designed to hold the waste generated by your household.
  • The waste held inside the septic tank separates into three layers:
    • Scum Layer: This is the top layer in your tank made of oils, fats and soaps. It is usually the first thing you’ll see floating at the top when you open the tank.
    • Liquid Layer: The middle layer is made of the remaining water after the scum and sludge have separated. The water from this layer exits into the secondary treatment to keep waste levels balanced in the tank.
    • Sludge Layer: The sludge layer contains heavier solids that sink to the bottom of the tank. This is where the decomposition process continues by means of bacteriological interaction.
  • Inlet Baffle: This is the entry pipe to your septic system. It connects the septic tank to the main exit pipe of your home. The inlet baffle helps to slow down the flow of waste so the solids can settle to the bottom.
  • Outlet Baffle Tee: The outlet baffle tee is a pipe that allows wastewater to flow into the drainfield. It also works to keep solids from exiting the tank where they could create clogs or damage the secondary treatment components.
  • Effluent Filter: This filter prevents solid waste and debris from entering the secondary treatment. You can find them installed on the outlet baffle. 
  • Secondary Treatment: After the wastewater exits the outlet baffle, it may go into a mound, filter bed or leach field. In newer systems, it passes through a UV light and is used as spray irrigation.
  • Risers: These are long pipes on the top of the septic tank. The risers extend to ground level allowing easy access to the septic tank for inspection and cleaning. With risers, you won’t have to dig up your septic tank every time it needs servicing. 
  • Access Port: The access port or lid is at the top of the risers. This is the part of your septic tank that a septic service provider opens to clean everything out. The lid must weigh at least 80 lbs. or be fastened with screws to avoid children and pets from falling in the tank.

Contact Supeck Septic Services

Have more questions about your septic system? We have the answers! Our team at Supeck Septic Services has years of experience and knowledge to help you manage your system. Give us a call at (888) 725-0209.