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Septics 101

Source: Long Island Liquid Waste Association (L.I.L.W.A.)

Understanding Your Septic System

Do's and Don'ts


  • 1. Know where your septic system is located.
  • 2. Have your septic tank (main receiver) pumped and insptected every 2 years by a licensed septic tank company.
  • 3. Direct all storm water run-off away from the septic system.
  • 4. Conserve water by using water-saving plumbing fixtures.
  • 5. Fix all leaking plumbing fixtures.


  • 1. Drive or park over the septic system.
  • 2. Plant trees or build anything over your septic system.
  • 3. Dispose of non-biodegradable materials in the system.
  • 4. Dispose of kitchen grease and food scraps in the system.

What is a Septic System?

Septic systems have been installed since the late 1800ís replacing the old outsite facility commonly known as the outhouse.

A septic system on Long Island usually consists of a primary receiver (septic tank) and a drainage area (cesspool or drainage field). Homes constructed after 1972 will have a septic tank as the primary receiver. Some homes built prior to 1972 will have a cesspool as a primary receiver. Most homes have a septic tank serving as the primary receiver and a cesspool or multiple cesspools serving as the drainage area. If properly installed and maintained on a regular basis, your septic system will provide many years of trouble free use.

How Do Septic Systems Work?

Waste water leaves your home through a pipeline called the main line, then enters the septic tank (primary receiver). The septic tank holds the waste for primary treatment where solids and liquids are separated by gravity. The heavy digested solids called sludge accumulate at the bottom of the tank. The lighter materials (grease and oils) are called a scum layer