How Sewer and Septic Systems Work
Wondering how sewer and septic systems work and what are the similarities or differences between the two? Here’s a look at the unique characteristics of sewer and septic tank systems and each one of them works.
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How Septic Systems Work
Septic systems gather the waste water from different outlets in a home and send it all into a single septic tank. These systems are typically installed in rural settings where, because of the great distances from one home to another, it is not practical for all homes in the area to have a single septic system.
After the wastewater collects in the tank, it gets separated into 3 layers. The bottom layer consists of the heavy solids that settle down and form sludge. The middle layer is made up of the liquid waste. The topmost layer consists of the oils and greases that combine to form a scum layer.
The organic solids get broken down by the bacteria that are present in the waste. This resultant effluent enters the drainfield via the septic tank. From there it gets filtered into the ground through special kind of perforated pipes.
Septic system maintenance including septic tank cleaning and septic tank maintenance are done by the home owner. The cost of installation and maintenance is also the responsibility of the homeowner.
How does a sewer system work?
Sewer systems are different from septic systems in that they collect the waste waster from a several building units. Sewer systems are typically installed in urban settings such as cities and also in some suburbs where there is not too much distance between homes.
Sewer systems work on the principle of gravity. The waste water gets pulled away from the sources to a central treatment center through a network of pipes. In most cases the treatment facility is located downhill from the waste water source so that gravity does the work of getting the water to flow through.
After the water reaches the central collection center, it gets treated the same way that the waste gets treated in a septic tank.
In the case of a sewer system, the construction and installing is done by the city or the municipality. They are also responsible for monitoring the system and conducting regular maintenance and checkups. All homeowners pay a monthly fee to use sewer system and to avail of the maintenance and check up fees.
While sewer systems do end up becoming the more expensive option, the upside is that homeowners do not have to worry about the maintenance and other upkeep measures.