Understanding how your septic system works
A conventional septic system has a tank (typically 750 to 2,000 gallons) and a leach field (perforated pipe buried shallow in an extended area). Septic tanks are made of concrete, fiberglass or plastic. An aerobic treatment unit uses several biological processes that work together: gross solids removal, aeration, clarification and sludge return. These processes are usually contained within separate chambers of a single tank.
Both conventional septic systems and aerobic treatment units are full of numerous microorganisms that are actively digesting and breaking down organic waste. The microorganisms in an aerobic treatment unit rely on the right mixture of food and air to stay alive and actively treat waste. The compressor in the yard supplies the air and the residents supply the food. A system is organically overloaded when there is more organic material than the microorganisms can treat and digest. This results in a quicker accumulation of solids and the need for more frequent maintenance. A kitchen garbage disposal can significantly increase the amount of organic loading and may reduce the pump out intervals by 1 to 2 years.