So, you recently bought a new home. You’ve moved in your furniture, set up your utilities, repainted the living room and used cleanroom adhesive mats. But what about the septic system?

A lot of homeowners are pretty clueless when it comes to their septic. You don’t need to be an expert — but it is important to have a basic understanding of how a septic system works, so you know what can go wrong. 

To help you out, here’s a quick overview of a standard residential septic system

1. The septic tank

When you flush your toilet, wastewater travels through underground piping to your septic tank. From there, it will slowly be broken down.

Solid waste settles to the bottom of the tank, where it will naturally decompose. Light, cleaner wastewater rises to the top of the tank as it breaks down and eventually moves on through the pipes. This process is all self-contained and doesn’t require any electricity. 

However, some California septic installers sell alternative septic tanks, which use an air pump to speed up the decomposition process, allowing for a smaller tank. 

2. The leach field

When light wastewater leaves the septic tank, it is dispersed into an open underground area known as a leach field. 

There, the water is naturally filtered through the soil on your property. By the time it reaches groundwater, it is completely clean and safe. 

3. Maintenance and repair

As long as you’re taking care of your septic system and investing in regular inspections, it should function for as long as you own your home. Try to use water in your home efficiently, and never flush trash down your toilets. 

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If you ever notice signs of septic damage, such as weak flushing, a funny odor, or water pooling in your yard, call a local septic company right away. The faster you have that damage fixed, the less you’ll have to worry about in the future.