Demystifying Your Mound Septic System

Demystifying Your Mound Septic System

If you've lived on city water and septic most of your life and find yourself facing a home septic system, you are likely to have heard many rumors about what you can and can't put down your drains.  Some rumors range from mildly alarming to downright outrageous.  One person told me that they collect all of their dishwater in a bucket and dump it out in their back yard to avoid getting any food particles in their system.  Yikes!  So, what is the real truth about maintaining your mound septic system?

I recently found an excellent video on how the mound septic system works and how to maintenance it provided by Anne Arundel County, Maryland.  This video is well worth the 18 minutes it takes to watch it.  It goes through the septic system design and shows what the inside of your tank looks like as well as how they decide where to place the fill bed that looks like a hobbit size hill in your backyard.

Ground in the Pacific Northwest often percolates very close to the surface making an underground system impossible. Therefore, the mounds are built to absorb and filter waste water before it reaches the table from which you draw your drinkable water. 

 The Anne Arundel County video shows how solid waste and liquid waste gets separated in the septic tank and leaves sludge on the bottom of the tank while the liquid waste is pumped into another filter chamber and then on to the fill bed through pipes very like a small soaker hose.  The solid waste that is separated on the bottom of your tank needs to be pumped on a regular basis so that it doesn't build up and clog the outgoing pipes to the fill bed.  The video recommends cleaning the tank every three to four years depending on the amount of use your system gets.  You can sign a maintenance contract with a local septic company, and they will come out for inspections of your tank periodically to make sure the system is running properly. 

 If you are doing your own inspections, you might want to become familiar with the high water alarm panel that should be close to where the pipes run from your house to the septic tank.  In the event your septic system gets over-clogged, the alarm will go off and warn you of an imminent backup.

 As far as what you can and can't put down the system, you will see from the video that the more large particles that go down the drain, the faster the tank will fill up.  And, some particles will not settle well into the septic tank layers and can get lodged in the small pipes heading to the fill bed.  Also, harsh chemicals can build up over time in your pipes and cause corrosion and/or clogging.  So, the main thing to know about your mound system is that the better you monitor just what's going down your drain, the longer you will be able to keep your system running smoothly without major repair. 

Cari Schwisow Headshot
Phone: 360-878-5401
Dated: January 31st 2012
Views: 3,855
About Cari: I am pleased to be with RE/MAX Northwest, a highly respected and innovative real estate firm in Olym...

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