Septic Basics

Regular Care Prevents Costly Repair!

The Basics of a Septic System The septic tank system is a small, on-site sewage treatment and disposal system buried into the ground. The system has two essential parts: (1) the tank, and (2) the soil absorption area.

Solid material overflowing into the soil absorption area should be avoided at all costs.It is this overflow that clogs the soil’s pores and causes septic systems to fail.

Two main factors cause solid material to build up enough to cause an overflow:
(1) bacterial deficiency, and (2) lack of sludge removal.

Bacteria MUST BE PRESENT in the septic tank to break down and digest the organic solids.  Normal household waste normally provides enough bacteria to digest the

UNLESS any harm is done to the bacteria. Bacteria are very sensitive to environmental changes, so check the labels of products you normally use in the home; products carrying the harsh warning “HARMFUL OR FATAL IF SWALLOWED” are most likely harmful to bacteria as well.

The following commonly-used home-care products can reduce the bacteria population required for proper septic tank operation, EVEN WHEN USED ACCORDING TO THE DIRECTIONS:


  • Detergents

  • Disinfectants

  • Toilet cleaners

  • Bleaches

  • Acids

  • Polishes

  • Cleaning compounds

  • Sink & tub cleaners

  • Caustic drain openers

People rarely think of the effects these everyday products have on their septic tank system. What kind of effect do you think “anti-septics” have on your septic tank system?

Bacteria must be present to digest the scum. If not digested, the scum will accummulate until it overflows and clogs the soil absorption area. The sludge in the septic tank – inorganic and inert material – is not biodegradable and will not decompose. If it is not removed, the sludge will also accummulate until it eventually overflows and clogs the soil absorption area.

Department of Health-licensed


Serving Westchester County