Septic 101

What Every Homeowner Should Know


If you own, or even rent a home in Orlando or the surrounding areas, it is important to know how a septic system works if you have one.

Not knowing is the main reason most septic systems fail before they should.

We've compiled information below that should help you be a better informed septic user.

septic tank schematic

All About the Septic Tanks

The septic tank is the key element of a septic system. It’s basically a small scale sewage treatment system for areas that lack connection to locally controlled main sewage pipes.

Septic tanks do require regular preventative maintenance to maintain an efficient and working septic system. Having your tank pumped out once every 2 to 4 years, depending upon the number of people in your home, is highly recommended.

All About Drain Fields

The Drain field, also called a Leach fields or Leach drains, remove contaminants and impurities from the liquids that come from the septic tank.

The septic tank, drain field, and the piping complete a septic system. Drains fields are usually an arrangement of trenches in connecting perforated pipes laid out over porous material, such as rock, and covered by a layer of dirt. Of course the soil content does dictate the type of septic system that can be installed.

Alternatives like the mound system are used often in Florida.

Mound Systems (Elevated Drain Fields)

Mound Systems, also called an Elevated Drain Field, are alternatives to traditional Septic System Drain Fields.

Mound Systems are engineered drain fields that are used in areas where septic systems may be more prone to failure due to extremely permeable or impermeable soils.

Mound systems include a septic tank, a dosing chamber, and a mound. Waste that comes from the home is sent into the septic tank where the solids settle at the bottom. Waste water goes into a second tank, called a dosing chamber, where the water is distributed into the mound at a metered rate. The mound is made up of layers at different depths.

Lift Stations

Lift stations are designed to move waste water from a lower elevation to a higher elevation. The key elements in a lift station are a well, or wet well, equipped with screen or grading to remove course materials, motors, a power supply, a pump and piping, valves, equipment control with an alarm system, odor control and a ventilation system.

Live stations are generally used to reduce capital cost of waste removal when connected to a local government controlled or private main sewer system. Lift stations are a great alternative when the gravity sewer is installed deeper than 10 feet, due to the higher cost of the excavation equipment.

Pump Outs

About 75% any septic service company's business revolves around septic tank pump outs. When a septic tank becomes full, it's necessary to remove the solid waste to ensure the system does not back up into your septic lines, or even worse into your home and yard.

Septic tank pump-outs come with a complete inspection of your septic system to make sure it's working properly and is in top shape!

First let’s see what every wastewater system should do.

Wastewater systems should:

  • Take the water away
  • Treat the water
  • Protect public health and the environment

This is true for onsite systems as well municipal treatment plants. A septic tank system although very simple in design does all of these things very well. It takes the wastewater from your home, and allows the naturally occurring bacteria in the soil to treat the water.

  • First by settling the solids that enter the tank.
  • Then bacteria in the soil treat the water, as it moves through the field lines.
  • The clean water then returns to ground water.

All wastewater from the house comes to a central drain. This one drain leaves the house and runs into the septic tank. Although some tanks are made of plastic or fiberglass, most tanks are made of concrete. A tank for a single-family residence (three or four bedroom) is 1000-gallon capacity, and measures approximately 4.5’w x 9’l x5’d.

side view of a septic tank

Septic tanks have one inlet and one outlet. By design the inlet is higher than the outlet. The outlet level determines the water level of the tank. A tank at its proper water level is always below the inlet pipe; this allows the inlet to remain empty between uses.

A baffle divides the tank. This baffle is open at the bottom and half way up. Its primary purpose is to hold floating solids on the inlet side of the tank. The outlet tee serves the same purpose, keeping any floating solids that may have passed the baffle from entering the field lines. All new systems are installed with in the outlet tee.

The septic field lines are a series of trenches in the yard that allow the waste from the septic tank to return to the ground for final treatment. While the septic tank catches and holds the solid waste, the field lines and the soil that surrounds them are the final treatment where naturally occurring bacteria break down pathogens in the tank effluent.

The Do's & Don'ts of your Septic System


  • Have a licensed contractor inspect the tank at least every 1-3 years.
  • Have the tank pumped on a regular basis to prevent solids and sludge buildup from entering the drain field.
  • If necessary, install gutters to re-route rain runoff.
  • Grow grass above the system (NOT trees).
  • Install water conservation fixtures or devices to reduce the total volume of water entering the system.
  • Keep plumbing fixtures such as toilets and faucets in good repair to prevent leakage and wasting of water.


  • Never flush paper towels, newspapers, wrapping paper, rags, or sticks into the system.
  • Always fix and repair any leaking toilet or faucet.
  • Never overuse ordinary household cleaning chemicals that will be flushed into the system.
  • Never pour grease or other bulky waste into the system. Kitchen grease should always be poured into a can and disposed of in the garbage.
  • Never plant trees or shrubbery in the drain field.
  • Never allow vehicles (cars, trucks, etc.) to drive across or park on the septic tank or drain fields.
  • Never make just make one day as laundry day. Space out wash loads throughout the week.
Service Locations
  • Orlando

Client Reviews

Gregg Alan

I have an aunt and uncle that live in Windermere FL, and they call me when they have a problem around the house, since I know so many people in business there. I got a call that their toilets and sinks were backed up and they were on a septic system. I worked for Veterans Septic back in the 1990's and they were out of business.  I was referred to A1 by the previous owner and Dave Smith and his crew did a wonderful Job!As it turned out they needed a total replacement (tank was cracked and the drain-field was long overdue.... He got a pump truck out right away and had a crew out there on Saturday to replace the tank and lay a new drain-field....that is what I call service. I highly recommend them, the were on time fairly priced and guaranteed their work!

Waylon Boston

A great company and the guy was nice and even scheduled it between 11:00 and 1:00 and was here on time and got the job done.

Elizabeth Asenova

Had a problem with my septic. I called for my septic to get pumped because it was backing up in my bathroom. When they came to pump my tank they was so honest all I need was a new filter because it was dirty and not flowing right I guess. So the guy came to my house and told me it doesn't need to be emptied it just needed a new filter. He saved me a lot of money because I would of paid for a new filter and a pumpout. Instead all I had to pay for was a new filter. He also showed me my septic was empty after he took the dirty filter out so it flowed correctly. A1 Septic Orlando is so honest I would recommend them to anyone.


Thank you a-1. I started having a bubbling sound from my 17 .shower when I flushed the toilet. I called a local septic company to empty my tank and was told that my entire drain field was bad. So I started the process of getting quotes to replace the system. That was until Tom from a1 showed up. He said based on the age of my home I should have a filter and that would cause the bubbling sound if it was dirty. Sure enough once Tom took the time to open the back of my tank he found a dirty filter. The total cost was $125. Much cheaper than the $4200-$6500 quotes I received from 3 other companies I'm just glad there are still honest companies out there. I will only use a1 from now on.

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