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Knowing the Basics of Septic Systems in Rural Homes

When buying a new home, or maintaining your current home, it is important to understand the many working elements. Septic systems are a major part of most rural homes, and homeowners should know the basics as it pertains to their home.

Country Living Mortgage Specialist, Kali Kraeger, outlines the workings of a typical septic system, and warning signs to look for if your septic isn’t working properly.

What are they?

  • Wastewater treatment systems which are commonly used in rural areas without centralized sewer systems.
  • They use a combination of nature and proven technology to treat wastewater produced by bathrooms, kitchens, and laundries.
  • There are many different types of septic systems, but a typical conventional system consists of a septic tank, drain or leach field and associated piping.
  • The septic tank, which usually has two chambers, is a buried, water-tight container usually made of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene.
  • The drain or leach field typically consists of an arrangement of trenches containing perforated pipes and porous material (often gravel) covered by a layer of soil to prevent animals and surface runoff from reaching the wastewater distributed within those trenches.

How does a conventional septic system work?

  • Wastewater flows from your home, by gravity, into the first chamber of the septic tank. Solids settle to the bottom forming a sludge, oils and grease float to the top forming a scum and microbes slowly break down the waste.
  • Further settling takes place in a second chamber and the remaining liquid wastewater, known as effluent, is then discharged through perforated pipes into the leach field
  • Biological breakdown continues, as the effluent leaches through the soil and eventually joins the water table.

What are the signs of a malfunctioning septic system?

  • Wastewater backing up into household drains.
  • Bright green, spongy grass on the leach field, especially during dry weather.
  • Pooling water or muddy soil around your septic system or in your basement.
  • A strong odor around the septic tank and leach field.

If you’re looking to buy a rural home, land or if you’re planning to build, please visit our website at or contact your local mortgage specialist to discuss your options.

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