A septic system is an individual wastewater treatment system that allows the surrounding soil to treat wastewater flows from a residential or commercial property. Septic systems may vary in many ways, but the basic components to a modern system are the septic tank, a distribution box, and the soil absorption system.
Your septic system conducts the primary treatment for your household wastewater by temporarily holding it in the septic tank where heavy solids and lighter scum are allowed to separate from the wastewater. The solids stored in the tank are partially decomposed by bacteria and later removed, along with the lighter scum, by a professional septic tank pumper. After the wastewater leaves the septic tank it moves on to the distribution box, which evenly distributes the flow to all areas of the soil absorption system. The effluent is slowly dispersed to the surrounding soils, where it undergoes secondary treatment by biological activity at the soil interface; a film develops here which is known as the biological mat, or biomat. The clarified wastewater eventually makes its way through the soils to the groundwater.
- Barnstable County Community Management Septic Loan Program offers financial assistance to homeowners replacing a failed septic system.
- The Homeowner Checklist provides a list of useful questions that homeowners should ask when hiring professionals for a septic system installation.