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How to Determine What Sewer System You Have

Have you ever wondered where all of your household's plumbing waste goes as you flush the toilet, only to walk away from the bathroom and forget the question? Don’t worry, it happens to people more than they’d like to admit.

You probably already have an idea of what happens to the waste in your friend’s RV when tailgating for an LSU game… but that process is a bit different and probably isn’t the same one used in your home.

We’re going to explain the two main types of sewage treatment systems for homes and take a look at how they work. Keep reading for more information!

Homes With Septic Tanks

If you’re unsure of whether or not your home uses a septic tank, the easiest way to tell is to ask your neighbor. If you’re miles away from any neighbors, chances are you have a septic tank.

Other telltale signs that you have a septic tank include your sewage bill is always $0.00, your water comes from a well, and you can’t find a water meter on your property.

Now that you know whether or not you have a septic tank, here’s how they work:

  • Water and waste drain from your home into a holding tank (AKA septic tank).
  • Solids sink to the bottom of the tank forming sludge, oils and fats rise to the top to form scum.
  • The water between the scum and sludge layers is relatively clear and is displaced when new sewage enters the tank.
  • Water that is displaced flows into a drain field which is made up of punctured pipes buried in trenches.
  • The surrounding soil removes nitrogen and phosphorus which help to fertilize existing plants.
  • Water is returned to the water cycle to eventually be reused for any and all purposes.

Homes Using a Sewer System

If you have realized that you do not have a septic tank and are hooked into a municipal sewer system, the beginning of the wastewater’s journey isn’t too different.

The sewage leaves your home, flows to the sewer main, and makes its way to the sewage treatment facility. Once the sewage reaches the sewage treatment facility, it may be treated up to three times to be rid of contaminants.

The first stage of treatment is generally the same across the board--a giant septic tank. The sludge and scum form, removing up to 50% of debris and contaminants. If the facility does not treat the water a second time, it is chlorinated and discharged.

If the city’s facility is built to treat the water a second time, bacteria are used to eat away up to 90% of germs, pathogens, and viruses. The water is either chlorinated and discharged or sent to the third stage of treatment that uses other chemicals and filter beds.

Other Forms of Waste Disposal

Although septic tanks and sewage systems are the most common types of household waste removal, they are not the only options available.

Composting toilets are becoming increasingly popular and typically use carbon sources or bacteria to remove contaminants.

Chemical water treatments are also a possibility but are far less common in homes--they’re typically found in porta-potties.

There are almost endless ways to treat sewage with each varying in cost, efficiency, and maintenance required. The most important part is making sure the water is clean and is not harmful to living creatures nearby.

If you’ve learned a thing or two about how your household sewage is removed and treated, take a second to share this article. Otherwise, if you need help with your sewer lines or drain cleaning, give Cajun Maintenance a call!