Septic tanks and leachfields are used by country and suburban dwellers.
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Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers)

Q. What are the parts of a septic tank system?
A. A conventional septic system has a tank (typically 750 to 2000 gallons) and a leach field (perforated pipe buried shallow in an extended area).

Q. What are septic tanks made of?
A. Septic tanks may be made of concrete, fiberglass or a plastic.

Q. Are septic tanks better or worse for the environment than regular central sewers?
A. Experts disagree. A properly maintained septic system discharges treated effluent directly into the ground, where its close contact with soil results in additional purification. A central sewerage system discharges very large volumes of treated effluent into a body of water at one location.

Q. Who regulates septic tanks?
A. In the United States, local jurisdictions typically regulate onsite wastewater treatment systems.

Q. What is a mound system?
A. For situations where the ground permiability is not suitable for a traditional leach field a mound system may be needed.

Q. What is an ET (evapo-transpiration) system?
A. In other situations where ground permiability is not suitable an ET system may be required. In such a system, all the effluent is contained to a small area and it either evaporates into the air or is used by plants and transpires out through their leaves.

Q. What causes septic system failure?
A. When the pores of undisturbed soil surrounding the leach field clog, the effluent cannot seep into the ground.  

Q. What are the symptoms of septic tank failure?
A. A stinky area of wet, soggy soil, sometimes with visible water, may appear. Sewage may back up into the house and toilets may not flush properly.

Q. How long does a septic system last?
A. Some last for several decades. Most do not.

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