There are many different kinds of septic systems. While some differ from others, they all work with the same design. All the water from inside the house flows into the septic tank where it separates between scum and sludge. The heavier, solid materials form sludge and collect at the bottom of the tank. After the separations process the liquid portion flows out of the tank through the outlet pipe. The baffle wall, or sanitary tee, prevents any solids from going into the drainfield. However, if a tank is not pumped regularly, solids in the bottom of the tank can reach the bottom of the outlet tee and be forced into the drainfield, creating a blockage. Nothing but water should exit the tank to enter the drainfield. Systems installed in the early 2000's and preceding include an effluent filter that takes the place of a sanitary tee.
Being proactive with your septic system is one of the best things that you can do to maximize efficiency and prolong its lifetimes. It is very important that you do not drive on, build or place heavy objects on your system, doing so can cause problems. Excessive water usage is not good for your system. While your system is designed to use 60 gallons per person per day, it is recommended that you don't exceed 80% for extended periods of time. You also need to be very careful with plants around your drainfield, tree roots can get into the drainfield and cause blockages. The state recommends that you have your tank pumped every three to five years, and clean your effluent filter annually to prevent backups.
Here are a few things that are commonly found in septic systems that are harmful: