Septic Systems

All homes in Chenango are on their own septic system. 

A typical septic system has four main components: a pipe from the home, a septic tank, a drainfield, and the soil. Microbes in the soil digest or remove most contaminants from wastewater before it eventually reaches groundwater. 

Pipe from the home- All of your household wastewater exits your home through a pipe to the septic tank.

Septic Tank- The septic tank is a buried, watertight container typically made of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene. It holds the wastewater long enough to allow solids to settle out (forming sludge) and oil and grease to float to the surface (as scum). It also allows partial decomposition of the solid materials by helpful bacteria. Compartments and a T-shaped outlet in the septic tank prevent the sludge and scum from leaving the tank and traveling into the drainfield area. Screens are also recommended to keep solids from entering the drainfield. Newer tanks generally have risers with lids at the ground surface to allow easy location, inspection, and pumping of the tank. 

Drainfield-  Septic tank wastewater exits the tank and flows to the drainfield, where it percolates into the soil, which provides final treatment by removing harmful bacteria, viruses, and nutrients.  The partially treated wastewater is pushed along into the drainfield for further treatment every time new wastewater enters the tank. If the drainfield is overloaded with too much liquid, it will flood, causing sewage to flow to the ground surface or create backups in plumbing fixtures and prevent treatment of all wastewater. Some homes have a two drainfields that are switch on and off.  Treat this area with the same care as your septic system. 

You should have a typical septic system inspected at least every 3 years by a professional and your tank pumped as recommended.

Septic Tank Pumping Schedule Table:

  • Numbers in the septic pumping table indicate septic treatment tank pump out in frequency of every xx years for conventional septic tanks, and assuming for year-round occupancy of the residence.
  • Garbage disposers will increase the frequency of pumping.

Normal Frequency in Years=NFY        

New Pumping Frequency in Years =NPFY  

           Formula: NFY- [(0.2)xNFY]= NPFY

  • For example, if a house with a 750 Gallon tank and six residents had a garbage disposal, the pumping frequency would be calculated as follows: 1.3 years - [(0.2) x 1.3 years] = 1.0 year.  

What Shouldn't Go Down the Drain:

Kitchen:  Your system is not designed to be a garbage can and solids build up in the septic tank that will eventually need to be pumped. The more solids that go into the tank, the more frequently the tank will need to be pumped, and the higher the risk for problems to arise. In the kitchen, avoid washing meat scraps, coffee grinds, and other hard to break down food items down the drain. Grease and cooking oils contribute to the layer of scum in the tank and also should not be put down the drain.

Bathroom: Avoid flushing any plastics, paper towels, facial tissues, tampons, sanitary napkins, cigarette butts, dental floss, disposable diapers, wipes, condoms, kitty litter, etc. The only things that should be flushed down the toilet are wastewater, waste and toilet paper.

Sinks and Other Drains- Household cleaners such as bleach, disinfectants, and drain and toilet bowl cleaners should be used in moderation and only in accordance with product labels. Overuse of these products can harm your system. It makes sense to try to keep all toxic and hazardous chemicals out of your septic tank system. To avoid disrupting or permanently damaging your septic system, do not use it to dispose of hazardous household chemicals. Even small amounts of paints, varnishes, paint thinners, waste oil, anti-freeze, photographic solutions, pharmaceuticals, antibacterial soaps, gasoline, oil, pesticides, and other organic chemicals can destroy helpful bacteria and the biological digestion taking place within your system.he 

Here are some helpful links about septic maintenance.