How Your Septic System Works
Septic systems are underground wastewater treatment structures, commonly used in rural areas without centralized sewer systems. They use a combination of nature and proven technology to treat wastewater from household plumbing produced by bathrooms, kitchen drains, and laundry.
A typical septic system consists of a septic tank and a drain field, or soil absorption field.
The septic tank digests organic matter and separates floatable matter (e.g., oils and grease) and solids from the wastewater. Soil-based systems discharge the liquid (known as effluent) from the septic tank into a series of perforated pipes buried in a leach field, chambers, or other special units designed to slowly release the effluent into the soil.
Alternative systems use pumps or gravity to help septic tank effluent trickle through sand, organic matter (e.g., peat and sawdust), constructed wetlands, or other media to remove or neutralize pollutants like disease-causing pathogens, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other contaminants. Some alternative systems are designed to evaporate wastewater or disinfect it before it is discharged to the soil.
Sewer lines and septic systems need to be installed by a professional. It is important that you use a qualified sewer and septic contractor that has a plumbing license to make sure your system is installed correctly. Many General Contractors install septic systems but they are not licensed to do so at least in Arizona. They must hire or be a licensed plumber with a CR-37 qualification. Your leach field should be calculated using the Maricopa County On Site Waste Water guidelines and be permitted for new systems or for replacements. General repairs do not require a permit unless you are changing design or relocating the sewage drain-field.
We have listed some qualified septic service companies as well as licensed plumbers in the Phoenix Metro area: