Septic System Components
This will depend on the age of your home. Prior to 1973, the septic system will consist of a conduit, called the main line, leading from the house to one or more leaching pools (cesspools). After 1973, "septic tanks" came into use. They are situated on the main line between the house and the leaching pools. (Click here to view diagrams)
The Difference Between a Cesspool and a Septic Tank
A septic tank is a chamber through which all wastewater from the home passes. The tank collects the water and allows the heavier solids to sink to the bottom forming a "sludge". Lighter solids such as soap, grease and oil rises to the top and forms "scum". Natural bacterial action works on the solids, helping to break them down.
The tank's design keeps the solids from flowing out with the residual liquid, called "greywater", into the cesspool drainage area where it leeches into the soil.
Cesspools (or leaching pools) are pits into which concrete, brick or cement block walls have been placed. Wastewater flows into the cesspool and drains or "percolates" into the soil through perforated walls.
Cesspools which serve only as "overflow" pits from septic tanks are much more efficient than the older systems because they receive much less solid material. However, where there is no septic tank to hold the solids, the cesspool will require much more maintenance. Over time, when the drainage area around the leaching pool becomes saturated, additional pools may have to be dug to handle the volume.
Location of Your Septic System
In most cases, there is a diagram of the system on your property survey; the septic tank indicated by a rectangle and the cesspool by a circle. If your home was built after 1975, there should be a copy on file with the county or town Buildings and Health Departments. In some cases, septic tank and cesspool covers are visible.
If the cesspool is buried beneath a lawn, there is often a circular area of deep green, lush growth directly over it.
The plumbing inside your house can indicate the general area in which the buried components of the system lie. Look for a large pipe (4" in diameter) that protrudes through the foundation. This is the waste or sewer line and the septic tank and / or cesspools are located somewhere along this pipe outside the house. This should give you an indication as to where the septic system is in relation to the house.
Using the following information, supplied by the Suffolk County Department of Health, you can make an educated guess as to where everything is.
The closest a septic tank or cesspool may be to the foundation of the house is 10 feet if the house has a cellar, or 5 feet if the house is on a concrete slab.
- The cesspool must be at least 100 feet from private wells supplying water to the house. Septic tanks must be at least 75 feet from wells.
- Septic systems must be at least 5 feet inside the property line.
- Septic systems must be 20 feet from swimming pools.
- Septic systems must be at least 20 feet from storm drains.
- If the exact location of you system still eludes you, it's a good idea to have professionals locate the system for you. In general, it's a good idea to know where all the buried utilities on your property are located, and especially so if you are planning a project involving excavation or paving. It's also very important to take measurements and diagram the location of the utilities. It can save you a ton of money and aggravation.
Locating Your Waste Lines
Locating problems in buried waste lines was never easy. In the past, we had to rely on guesswork, and lot of digging. This made the job time-consuming and costly, not to mention destructive to property. However, at Norsic, we're equipped with the latest equipment, which allows us to minimize excavation and reduce the time to find your buried waste lines.
Our technicians has introduced a fiber-optic imaging device into the line enabling him to see blockages without having to dig. Once a problem has been identified, it's possible to pinpoint its exact location and depth using an electronic wand, which picks up signals emanating from probes inside the line.
If digging is necessary, we employ specialized equipment to get the job done as quickly as possible. This mini-excavator makes short work of otherwise difficult jobs. Its tiny "footprint" allows it to maneuver easily and safely in residential driveways and yards.