Menu Close

Knowing Your Sewage Disposal System

On-site sewage system

Sewage Disposal

Let’s take a look at what kind of sewage disposal system your property has. PA DEP lists two types of systems Small Flow Treatment Facilities and Domestic Wastewater Facilities. A small flow facility is less than 2,000 gallons per day and serves single-family homes. There are some other types of locations, but they are less common. A domestic wastewater facility is a wastewater treatment plant. These serve a development or regional area through an authority. So, we are going to take a look at small flow facilities.

A majority of modern sewage disposal systems are either an in-ground (conventional) or elevated sand mound. Other less frequent systems for on-site treatment, include drip or spray irrigation systems. A drainage pipe starts the system and connects the house to the septic tank. Connected within the house are items like laundry machines, toilets, showers, and sinks. Sump pumps are not connected to this drainage pipe. Next is the septic tank, which is a buried and watertight structure. This tank holds the sludge and scum. Sludge is the solids that settle to the bottom. While scum is the floatables like gats, grease, and oil.  These septic tanks need routine maintenance to remove the built-up solids.

From these tanks, liquid wastewater passes to a distribution box or dosing tank. This structure will hold the liquids and distribute them to a drain field. Some systems contain more components between the holding tank and the drain field. The final stop for your waste stream is when the liquids pass through the drain field. This is where the liquid waste percolates through the soil. This process removes bacteria and nutrients with the water reclaimed by the aquifer.


Buying or Selling a Sewage Disposal System

Let’s start by knowing what to look for as a real estate agent or homebuyer. Septic systems are the primary form of wastewater treatment in rural areas. This is because of the size of properties, distance to a centralized plant, and lack of connections. Next, does the house have a water meter? Though not always a telltale sign, it does indicate that a property might have a well for water service. Finally, you can contact the municipality to see if the property has public utilities.

So, you think you might have a septic system, what should you look for? Check the yard for caps, lids, and manhole covers. These will be access points for future inspections and maintenance. They also will tell you the location of drain fields, sewage lines, and sewage tanks. If you cannot locate these features, contact the local municipality and verify the property is not connected to the public sewer. If the property is not connected, contact a professional like ACA, to help locate the system.

As a home seller, a real estate agent or home buyer, a system inspection is vital. During the selling process, it is key to make sure this system is functional. The repair costs of a failed system can have a big impact on the selling price. System replacements can run over $20,000, so ensuring the system functions is important. These failed systems can also cause delays that could lead to a deal falling apart.

So, what is the cost of an inspection? Well, no two sites and inspection processes are alike. The process will include identifying the type of system, location of components, and determining if they are functioning. Ease of access is key to keeping costs down, as well as regular maintenance. Finally, the time of year can change the cost as frozen or dry soils make inspection more difficult. That said, the typical cost is only a few hundred dollars and well worth saving the headache of future costs and delays.


Who is ACA?

Started in 1992 and located in Chester County, PA ACA has grown to become a full-service engineering firm. Today, we merge professional services with practical knowledge for residential and commercial projects. No matter the scale, from installing a fence, to building a structure or developing land, you need permits. Because the approval process includes many permits and agencies, it can be a headache. Working with ACA’s full-service team saves you time, money, and headaches.  Every step of the way, we are here to support you and educate you about the process. Here are some of the basic services we provide:

Construction Management | Civil Engineering | Environmental Permitting | Septic System Testing and Design | Land Surveying | Wetland Delineations and Mitigation

Please feel free to browse our website or if working on a project or need help, contact us at (610) 469-3830. 

Also, join the conversation on: FacebookLinkedIn

Skip to content