When it comes to your waste removal, it’s important to choose the right septic system. Finding the system that suits your home will require some digging… and then more digging.
The two most popular systems are leach field systems and city sewer systems. We hope this comparison article helps guide you in the proper direction, and leads you to sewer system success.
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Leach Field Septic System Explained
A leach field is a system of permeable pipelines with pierced lines running underground, carrying and breaking down waste from your home. Generally speaking, leach field systems are a good bet for homes and residences. Leach fields are affordable and, with proper maintenance, last for years.
How Leach Fields are Constructed
When you flush, solid waste remains in the septic tank to continue breaking down. The liquid waste that makes it through the filter then flows into the leach field. Lying under gravel, soil and sand, the system pipes have small holes along the side and on the bottom, where the waste can filter out.Pro Tip: Leach fields are good for the environment, and do not harm any surrounding wildlife as the waste breaks down underground.
How Do Leach Fields Work
The journey from toilet bowl to leach field is pretty simple. The waste travels from your toilet to your septic tank. Microorganisms begin to break down the waste. Solid waste sinks, and sludge forms. The waste continues to break down, and eventually liquid waste heads through the underground pipes towards the leach field. Once this waste reaches the leach field, it seeps into the surrounding ground to be naturally filtered into the earth.
For a more detailed explanation of the processes involved in leach field waste treatment, check out the video above which explains how and why leach field systems fail, which can be prevented through proper maintenance.
Maintain your Leach Field
Maintaining your leach field is of the utmost importance. Luckily, leach fields are pretty low maintenance. A little TLC will go a long way in extending your leach field’s lifetime. One of the most common maintenance mistakes is neglecting to pump your septic tank and letting the sludge build up excessively.Pro Tip: We recommend pumping your septic tank every two years or so, but this varies from household to household.
A quick septic care trick is to use a leach and drain field cleaner. We recommend the septic saver pods from Green Gobbler for their reliable, easy-to-use flushable pods. Along with regular septic system pumping, using a pod a month will keep your tank in tip-top shape. If you’re looking for a cleaner that can be applied directly to the drain field, you can’t go wrong with Roebic K-570 Leach and Drain Field Treatment. These options are both effective and eco-friendly.
Your pipes and leach field are sensitive to damage from construction or displacement of the earth around the leach system. The same goes for uncontrolled tree roots, which over time may grow to impact your system. Be careful not to place anything heavy or park vehicles on your leach field, and avoid construction in the area.
The amount of water running through your system can also impact your system’s functionality. Trying to break down too much waste and water, exceeding the system’s capacity, will cause an overflow. This is also the risk with heavy rain or snowfall. You can help prevent this, however, by diverting runoff and limiting your water usage. Fewer loads of laundry, shorter showers, and watering your garden in the early morning or in the evening when the sun is at its dimmest, all contribute to a healthy septic system.
What are City Sewers?
When it comes to city living, the practicality of a leach system goes down drastically. In areas with limited space and a seemingly limitless amount of people, it’s likely that there’s a city sewer system in place. Like a leach field system, every time a person flushes a toilet, takes a shower, or uses the sink, that waste needs to be removed.
City sewers may sound like they are reserved for apartment blocks and high rise buildings, but this is just a misconception. In fact, city sewers connected to your home carry waste from your septic tank directly to the manhole, or under your yard to the street, where it joins the rest of the neighborhoods waste.Pro Tip: City sewers require far less maintenance on your side!
City sewer systems are owned and managed by the city, often through the city’s municipality or public authority. This system needs to be regularly maintained by those in charge in order to keep up with the demands of so many people and meet the municipality’s standards.
How City Sewage Systems are Constructed
City sewers are built using excavation techniques. Nowadays, city planners use mainly three construction techniques to build city sewer systems. These techniques are; trenching, micro tunneling and tunnel boring, depending on the layout of your home. Each of these excavation techniques have differing benefits and drawbacks that need to be considered before the construction process.
- Trenching: the easiest and most inexpensive excavation technique, trenching is the digging of deep trenches into the earth using a trencher. This is a great technique to use if the ground around the trench can be disturbed without risking any nearby structures. Once the pipes have been laid, the trench is simply backfilled with dirt and paved over.
- Micro tunneling: a better technique in the case of high-density neighborhoods and busy roads. Two pits, the jacking pit and the receiving pit, are dug. A micro tunnel boring machine (MTBM) will be placed into the jacking pit and begin tunneling towards the receiving pit. This small tunnel is drilled without disturbing the surrounding ground. MTBMs use a laser guidance system operated remotely by the contractor which avoids sending in a team or larger equipment. Once the tunnels have been drilled, the MTBM is removed from the receiving pit and the system’s sewer pipes can now be laid.
- Tunnel boring: this technique is used when installing larger pipes in sensitive areas. These populated, bustling areas need to remain as undisturbed as possible, even in cases where the pipes are several feet in diameter. A tunnel boring machine will clear earth from the entry pit. Then, a hydraulic jack pushes segments of pipe into the bore, coming together piece by piece.
How Do City Sewage Systems Work?
The system of a city sewer is made up of a collection of connected underground pipes or tunnels that transport the sewage to the sewage treatment centre. The fundamental principle behind how this system works is gravity. All drains are connected to downward sloping pipes, forcing waste to flow directly to the centre.
However, this is not always possible due to inconsistent sea levels and substantial excavation costs. In these cases, lift stations, otherwise known as pumping stations, are then installed at certain low points to raise the elevation of the wastewater and allow it to continue flowing downhill.
The waste produced can generate various chemicals, like hydrogen sulphide, and bacterias that could be very harmful or even deadly to the environment if incorrectly treated. Correct management of city system waste is crucial for the wellbeing of a community.
Both leach field and city sewer systems are ingenious and reliable, with specific designs to make waste removal as easy as possible. Deciding which system suits your needs is crucial for a well-working septic system. After reading our guide, some careful consideration will be all you need to make the right decision for your home!