A Short History of Septic Systems

The septic system, or septic tank, is essentially a private sewage treatment facility. A septic system has the capability to remove more than 90 percent of contaminants, bacteria and pathogens from sewage before it is released into the environment.

The forerunners of septic systems have been in use since ancient times. Septic tanks or septic systems are usually located in secluded areas where the soil is sufficiently dry to accept the effluent. Septic systems are commonly found in rural areas, with septic systems generally being used in communities lacking access to municipal sewage treatment infrastructure.

Where did septic systems originate?

A closer relative to the modern septic tank was invented in the late 1800s to replace outdated sewage systems. It was developed in an attempt to standardize and regulate waste management, and septic tanks used in septic systems soon became a popular and viable option for rural property owners.

Before septic tanks were developed, homeowners relied on cesspools or seepage beds to dispose of their sewage. Both of these options proved problematic in cities and towns where the soil was not suitable for holding sewage. The septic tank was a better method because it filtered out harmful bacteria, stored waste and allowed for the safe removal of residual water.

In 1927, septic tanks were introduced into Washington, DC’s sewer system. This septic tank technology was an advancement over older septic systems in that instead of seeping into the ground, the seepage water was stored in covered tanks and then drained to sewage treatment facilities.

As seepage water storage tanks became more popular, especially in urban areas, septic tank technology continued to evolve, and more advanced septic system designs and components were further developed.

One of the most significant changes septic systems underwent was when polyethylene septic tanks were introduced in the 1970s. These septic tanks reduced septic system installation cost and seepage tank maintenance, largely because these tanks were more durable and longer lasting.

Septic systems in the present

In today’s septic systems, homeowners will not only see septic tanks themselves, but also a distribution box and leach fields. The distribution box is located between the septic tank and the leach field. The septic tank leach lines drain into the distribution box, which then evenly distributes effluent onto the septic system leach field.

The septic tank leach lines and septic system distribution box all work together to filter seepage water before it is released back into the environment.

As today’s septic tanks typically continue to function well for decades after installation, septic systems make an environmentally safe and cost-efficient way to treat septic seepage water and release it back into the environment.

With 80 years in business, Gullett Sanitation Services, Inc. is proud to assist property owners with all of their septic system needs. Whether you’re in need of a system for a new property or require maintenance or repairs to an existing system, you can trust our experts with the job. Reach out today to learn more and schedule an appointment!