Sewage waste from most Georgia homes is managed through centralized sewage treatment plants but approximately 25-37% of homes in Jackson, Oconee and Athens-Clarke counties use septic systems. Home septic systems are very common, and not just in rural areas.
A septic system is comprised of the septic tank and a drain field. The septic tank allows wastewater to settle into three levels; sludge, liquid (known as effluent) and scum (grease and oils). Once settled, the effluent level is allowed to drain through perforated pipes buried underground into the drain field. The sludge and scum remain in the tank and need to be pumped out on a regular basis that is determined by the size of the home, size of the tank and the number of people living in the home.
If you purchase a house with a septic system it is important to be mindful of the following:
- Use toilet and sinks for human waste and toilet paper only. Avoid flushing anything that will not break down into organic material. Garbage disposals are not recommended if you are on a septic system.
- Get to know your system. What is the size of your tank? Where are the tank and drain field located? How old is your system and when was it last inspected?
- Be aware of your water usage, especially during the rainy season to avoid overwhelming your drain field. Reduce your water usage by using low-flow shower heads and fixing leaks immediately upon discovery.
- Have your tank checked by a certified professional every 3-5 years. It is more cost effective to inspect, pump and maintain a septic system than it is to make repairs to a neglected system.
Signs of septic system failure include:
- Foul odors around the septic tank and drain field
- Wastewater back up in your house
- Liquid seepage in your basement or around the septic system
- Grass that is greener and mushy ground around the drain field
We recommend Antonio Martin with Athens Professional Septic & Drain Service for pumping, inspections and guidance on maintaining a septic system. Athens Professional services 12 counties. If you are purchasing a home outside of their coverage area, please ask your Realtor for a referral to a contractor that they know and trust. You can visit Antonio’s website here for more information about septic systems and what to expect from a septic inspection. Their office number is 706-207-3739.