The guys at Sewer Medic in Wimington NC

The guys at Sewer Medic in Wimington NC

If you are a septic system virgin, read on for a general summary of how the system works and what you should expect for maintenance.

When you are not connected to a municipal sewer system, you most likely have a septic system through which all your household waste is disposed. It is a small, on-site sewage treatment and disposal system buried in the ground. It is made up of the septic tank and the soil absorption area. The tank is watertight in which the bacteria converts the organic solid material (called “scum” – yes really) into liquid. The inorganic material and the by product of the scum sink to the bottom and become “sludge”. The clear water between the scum and sludge is meant to flow into the soil absorption area.

You do not want solid material in the absorption area, SO, 1) don’t dispose of products marked “harmful” down your drains and minimize use of household cleaners which may kill the bacteria in your tank needed to break down the organic solids and 2) have the sludge pumped out so that it doesn’t overflow. This is typically every 3 years or so.

For proper septic functioning, do not put things down the drain that may clog your tank – fats, coffee grounds, feminine products and diapers. No toxic substances, paints, pesticides, etc. Normal household cleaning products, used in moderation, should not affect the system.

A good buyer’s agent will recommend you get a septic inspection during your investigation period. If it needs to be pumped, it would be a negotiable item between the buyers and sellers. I just completed an inspection with Septic Medics; cost $250.00. They reminded me that in the area around the drain field, you shouldn’t be thinking of planting trees, whose roots may upset the system. Don’t even THINK about an inground pool in this area.