cedar rapids water damage

Learn more about how your septic system works

Curious how your home drain system works? We reached out to Iowa Plumbing Pros, a local Cedar Rapids plumber to get some tips and insight into how septic systems work and the complications of keeping them running year round.

Your homes septic system is a vital part of your homes waste water drainage system. The homes septic system protects the investment you have made in your home. Septic systems when properly installed, designed and maintained will provide excellent long term care of household waste water.

Sadly millions of Americans neglect their household septic systems. Septic systems that are not maintained regularly can easily break down causing you to need to replace the entire system, costing you thousands of dollars in the long term. When your septic system fails it can contaminate ground water, whats worse is if that groundwater source is drinking water. Failing septic systems can contaminate the area with virus and bacteria such as E-colli. As a home owner you are the one responsible for maintaining and caring for your septic system.

Septic systems should be inspected at least every 2 to 3 years. You should also have your septic system pumped out periodically to remove debris, gunk and help it’s overall performance.

Many people do not even know or understand fully what a septic system is nor how it works. Your homes septic system is built around 4 key pieces, a pipe leading out from your home which carries away waste water, the septic tank itself, a drain-field and then the soil underneath the drain field. Underneath the soil lays your ground water. Your waste water travels from the pipe to your septic tank.

Your septic tamk is buried in the ground and is a watertight container. Solid waste turns into sludge inside of this, and oil and grease will float up to the surface forming scum. Solid wastes partially decompose inside of the septic tank. The tank is specially shaped to prevent sludge and scum from ever leaving your tank and entering into the drainage field, and screens are also often incorporated to prevent this as well. Old tanks are hard to find on your property while newer built tanks have risers with lids at ground level to allow ease of location, cleaning and inspection of the septic system.

Your septic system will need to be drained, ideally every year to prevent the build up of sludge and scum. This is done by pumping out the tank. A plumber or a water damage restoration expert can easily provide this service for you, and indeed it is one of the least desirable home maintenance jobs to attempt to do yourself, mostly due to the incredible stench that this job entails. Regular inspections of your septic system will also help you to keep your septic system in proper working order.

Your drain-field is an important part of your septic system. The septic system will drain its waste water into your drain-field. The drain-field acts to filter any escaping solid waste and to provide slow seepage of this waste water into the soil below. Every time new waste water enters the septic tank old waste water is pushed out into your drainage field. Problems can occur when the drain-field is too overloaded with liquids. When the drain-field is overloaded it causes raw sewage to flow into the ground surface and can create backups in your household plumbing fixtures. Some people and indeed some states require by law that a reserve drain-field be put into place should the main drain-field fail.

The soil below your drainfield is the last part of your septic system. The soil acts to remove any harmful viruses, bacteria, environmental contaminants and nutrients which are absorbed into the soil. The soil acts as a buffer before any of this waste water can reach pure ground water. The soil in effect purifies the waste water. You need specific types of soil in place below your drainfield to ensure proper decontamination.

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cedar rapids water damage