Septic Systems 101
at Dixie Septic Tank Inc. are happy to have provided
your residence with the best and highest quality “On
Site Sewage Treatment” facility known in the
In this section, we will try and explain in layman’s
terms what this means. We will also provide you with
some maintenance information that will help keep your
system working for years to come.
We would like to put to rest some controversy regarding
septic systems. It has been proven throughout the
United States, that septic water coming from the tank
into the pipes and moving through rocks (the rocks
also trap bacteria). Then moving through at least
two feet of sand (this is our system, rocks and sand)
is as good and bacteria free as any public sewer system
operated by cities, towns, and municipalities.
Septic systems are comprised of a large collection
tank (septic tank) that at one end is connected to
the house (inlet side) and the outlet end has pipes
connected to them to distribute the liquid into the
ground below. There are several ways to do this.
This system from us is known as an aggregate
rock system. What this means is the drainfield
has a crushed rock base under, around, and
over the pipes that are located under the
ground. The aggregate rock system is the oldest
known type of drainfield in the industry.
The idea of water moving into and out of homes
has been in use since the Roman Empire.
If properly maintained and not abused your
system should give you many years of trouble
On our tanks, located on the outlet end, there is
a filter required by the State of Florida. This filter
should be cleaned once a year and replaced every three
years. To do this, unscrew the cap and using rubber
gloves pull the filter out and hose it off. This is
one final step the state requires to assure no solids
or debris gets into the drainfield and clogging the
Some of the newer filters have a directional flow
to them. Make sure you reinsert it with the arrow
pointing toward the yard, not the house. Incorrect
installation can cause a backup.
Some of you may have a mound system or a
system requiring a pump and alarm. If your
system is one of these? Located near on the house
is a box that has a couple of electrical plugs. These
are the electrical source for the pump, floats, and
alarm located down inside a pump chamber. This chamber
may be a separate tank or it may be installed in a
larger tank with a separate pump chamber. You will
notice one plug is plugged into the back of the other.
It is designed that way and should never be changed.
It is what we call piggybacked.
You have two floats in the tank. One float for the
alarm and one float operates the pump. One plug is
the alarm, and the other is the float and pump combined.
Disconnecting the two combined plugs and plugging
them in separately, will cause the pump to run constantly,
until it burns out. Do not do this!
If for some reason or another the alarm goes off
(you have a sound alarm with a light alarm combined),
it usually means the water level in that tank is full
and liquid is not being pumped to the drainfield.
First check your circuit breakers make sure they haven’t
popped, these breakers should be on a separate circuit
not tied to any other outlets in the house. After
checking the circuit breaker if they haven’t
popped out. You also have a GFI, which is a Ground
Fault Interrupter. One is located in the outlet box
by the alarm. Another may be located in your kitchen
and bathroom. Check to see if they have popped. If
so reset it. If after doing this you still have problems.
The alarm box has a switch on the side that has a
“test, run, and silent” position. Turn
the switch to “silent” this will stop
the alarm from sounding, There are a number of things
that could cause the alarms to sound. We suggest you
call for a service man to check them out.
One of the worst things for your drainfield is
the excessive use of water. We have found in old
and new homes where toilets have a silent leak. All of this
water goes into the tank and then into the drainfield. One
way to quickly check this is to turn off all faucets and
water use inside the house. Go outside to the water meter
and see if it is turning. You may have to watch it for a
few minutes. If it is moving you have an inside leak. This
should be addressed immediately.
The health department figures that on average a home
should use about 100 gallons per day for each bedroom.
If your usage is higher, then there may be a problem.
Of course filling swimming pools and watering with
a sprinkler system will affect these numbers. Be aware
of water usage.
Sprinkler system should never be installed
to spray on the drainfield. 80% of the evaporation
of a drainfield comes from the sun above. It needs
to have an opportunity to dry out. That is why drainfields
are green; the evaporation of water below the drainfield
is actually feeding the grass. Overwatering this area
is bad for the lawn and drain field.
Another thing that can and will affect your system
is the planting of trees and shrubs on top of the
drainfield. You should not plant anything on the drainfield.
As an example, sycamore trees, rain trees, elm trees,
maple trees, magnolia trees, palm trees, crepe myrtle
bushes, all have extensive root systems that play
havoc with the drainfield. I have personally seen
the results of roots from a magnolia tree travel close
to 30 feet and completely engulf the pipe in a drainfield,
and continuing into the tank, causing it to fail.
Garbage disposals are not a good mix for the system.
Our natural body waste creates the correct type of
bacteria to do its thing in the tank. It converts
solids to sludge and liquid. Any raw food of any kind
is not good for the bacteria. If you haven’t
eaten it, don’t flush it!
Using additives in your system is not necessary.
Industry tests have shown they only benefit those
that are in the business of selling them. As mentioned
in the previous paragraph let your natural body waste
do its thing. Don’t confuse the operation of
what is happening in your tank.