News & Media

Go Back

Where Does Your Household Plumbing Waste Go?

Have you ever taken the time to wonder what happens after you flush your toilet? Ever wondered where that bathroom plumbing waste goes, what happens to it, and where it ends up?

No, probably not. The fact is that most of us stop thinking about what we’ve flushed away once it’s been flushed. In fact, most of us don’t want to think about it.

In case you're now curious about where your plumbing waste goes when it leaves your house, the experts at Affordable Plumbing Sewer and Drain have gathered some information on the subject and compiled it here for you to read!

Does Your Home Have a Septic Tank?

Septic tanks are usually found in mobile homes, or in more rural areas where there is no municipal sewer system. Here’s a look at the process your plumbing waste goes through in a septic tank system:


  • The wastewater runs from your home's drainage pipe to the tank.
  • The tank holds the water long enough for oil and grease floats to the top, forming a layer of scum on the top of the water, and solid waste to sink to the bottom of the tank and create what is known as sludge.
  • The liquid wastewater then exits the tank after passing through a filter and enters the drainfield.
  • In the drainfield, the wastewater filters through the soil, which treats, and then disperses the wastewater, turning it into natural groundwater. The soil naturally removes viruses, bacteria, and harmful nutrients from the water.

If your home has a septic system, beware that your drainfield doesn’t get overloaded with too much water, as it can flood and cause backups in both your toilet and your sinks.

Or Does Your Plumbing Connect to The Public Sewer System?

“sewersystem”If this is the case, then your waste travels through your drain pipes into a larger sewer main and towards the city sewage treatment plant.

Here the waste undergoes a series of treatments to remove coliform bacteria, nutrients, and viruses.

The first treatment separates solid waste from the wastewater, much like a septic tank does, and collects the solid waste for disposal. The second treatment aerates the water, introducing live bacteria that eat all of the nutrients and other organic materials in the wastewater.

During secondary treatment, the water also flows to a settling tank, where the bacteria is settled out. Finally, in the tertiary treatment, chemicals are added to the wastewater to remove things like Phosphorus and nitrogen from the water.

After the first two treatments, 90% of the bacteria that was initially in the wastewater is gone. Before being discharged from the plant, chlorine is added to the water to kill any remaining bacteria.

Are There Other Ways Waste Can be Disposed Of?

“wastedisposal”There certainly are! One of those ways is in a cesspool. Cesspools, like septic tanks, store wastewater in a tank while the sludge and scum separate.

Unlike septic tanks, though, cesspools don’t need a drainfield because the water passes through the brick or stone walls of the tank into the soil.

Other waste disposal methods include electric sewage treatment, as well as gravity drains and pumping stations. For more information on plumbing waste treatment in the Fairhope area, call the sewer and drain cleaning professionals at Affordable Plumbing Sewer and Drain at (251) 990-5248!