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What is an Onsite Sewage Management (Septic) System?

A typical septic system contains two major components: a septic tank that collects solids and the absorption field or drainfield that disposes of the liquid waste. The tank and lines are buried under the ground and help disperse the wastewater we create into the soil. (Figure 1).

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The Absorption Field

The absorption field is the most critical part of the septic system for reducing these contaminants and dispersing the effluent (outflow) from the tank.


Pretreated wastewater is discharged through piping onto porous surfaces that allow wastewater to filter though the soil. The soil accepts, treats, and disperses wastewater as it percolates through the soil, ultimately discharging to groundwater.
If the drainfield is overloaded with too much liquid, it can flood, causing sewage to flow to the ground surface or create backups in toilets and sinks.

Finally, the wastewater percolates into the soil, naturally removing harmful coliform bacteria, viruses and nutrients. Coliform bacteria is a group of bacteria predominantly inhabiting the intestines of humans or other warm-blooded animals. It is an indicator of human fecal contamination.

The Septic Tank

The septic tank is an underground watertight container built to receive sewage and retain the liquid portion for approximately 24 hours before sending it to the absorption field. Current requirements call for a two-compartment tank (Figure 2), but older tanks still may have a single compartment. While typically designed to hold a minimum of 1,000 gallons of sewage, the size of the tank may vary depending upon the number of bedrooms and the use of a garbage disposal. 


The primary purpose of the septic tank is to separate the solids from the liquids and to promote partial breakdown of contaminants by microorganisms naturally present in the wastewater. The solids, known as sludge, collect on the bottom of the tank, while the scum floats on top of the liquid. An effluent filter can be used to help prevent small particles from entering the drainfield. The sludge and scum remain in the tank and should be pumped out every three to five years.

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Signs that Your Septic System Needs Service

Has it been more than three years since you’ve had your tank pumped and inspected?

Do you hear gurgling in your pipes when you run the washing machine?

Have you noticed any leaks in your yard?

Are the drains in your basement draining slowly?

Have you noticed any unusual/foul smells in your yard?

Do you have more than one clogged toilet or drain?

Is water backing up out of your drains?

Our Solutions

  • Septic tank cleaning and repair, including inlet and outlet T’s 

  • Drain line routing, repair, and replacement 

  • Septic pumps and other systems repairs 

  • Septic tank lid replacement 

  • Drain field reconstruction 

  • Root clearing 

  • Realtor home-buyers and sellers inspections

Since 2010, OnSyte Septic Services has been providing high quality septic services to Northeast Georgia and the greater Atlanta areas. Our team of experts are here to help with everything from installation and system replacement to pumping and emergency repairs. Some of our services include:

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