There’s an older home in the neighborhood that was occupied by a single woman for more than two decades. When she died of cancer a few years ago, her son inherited the home and moved in. Not long after, the septic system failed and had to be replaced.

Eric Knopf, owner of Indigo Designs Inc., a company that designs and maintains septic systems, said that septic systems definitely have a life span. "You can get about 30 years on a home’s roof. Some cars will get you 200,000 miles; some maybe 300,000. Septic systems also have a definite life span."

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, an estimated 30 percent of all households use a soil-absorption septic system to dispose of waste. A properly designed, installed and maintained septic system is comprised of a watertight container, drain field, and adequate soil conditions beneath the drain field.

Only 32 percent of all septic systems in existence meet the criteria for adequate soil absorption, due to the presence of bedrock, sandy soil and high water tables.

Here’s the quick scoop on what happens in an on-site septic system — i.e., the sewage treatment a home needs if not hooked in to a community sewer:

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