The drainfield is a shallow, covered, excavation made in unsaturated soil. Pretreated wastewater is discharged through piping onto porous surfaces that allow wastewater to filter though the soil. The soil accepts, treats, and disperses wastewater as it percolates through the soil, ultimately discharging to groundwater.
How do I know if my drain field is bad?
- 5 Signs of Drain Field Problems Pools of Water in the Drain Field. Soggy spots in the yard are a possible sign that you have a problem with the drain field. Sewage Odor in the Drain Field. A drain field should only see liquid. Sewage Odor in the House. Greener Grass. Problems with Toilets and Drains.
How do I know if my drain field is failing?
The following are a few common signs of leach field failure:
- Grass over leach field is greener than the rest of the yard.
- The surrounding area is wet, mushy, or even has standing water.
- Sewage odors around drains, tank, or leach field.
- Slow running drains or backed up plumbing.
How often does a leach field need to be pumped?
Inspect and Pump Frequently Household septic tanks are typically pumped every three to five years. Alternative systems with electrical float switches, pumps, or mechanical components should be inspected more often, generally once a year.
What happens when drain field fails?
A clogged leach field will compromise the entire system. It can result in sewage backups in the house, septic odors, sewage leakage on the lawn, and contamination of groundwater. To avoid these and more problems related to leachfield failure, you should unclog your leachfield through shock treatment.
How do you unclog a septic drain field?
Can Anything Unclog an Old Septic Drain Field?
- Shock the System With Bacteria. A septic system bacteria packet can help clean out a clogged drain field by allowing waste material to break down and drain through.
- Reduce Water Usage.
- Avoid Harsh Chemicals.
- Change to Gentler Toilet Paper and Soap.
- Contact a Septic Professional.
How long does a drain field last?
It’s important to consider the life expectancy of a drain-field, too. Under normal conditions and good care, a leach-field will last for 50 years or more. Concrete septic tanks are sturdy and reliable but not indestructible.
How do you test a septic drain field?
Walk over the drain field and make a note of any place you detect sewer odors or feel squishy ground. Both are signs of a leak and reasons to call a septic pro. You should see one or more pipes sticking vertically out of the ground; these are risers that were installed so you can check the drain system.
How do you know if septic tank is full?
Here are some of the most common warning signs that you have a full septic tank:
- Your Drains Are Taking Forever.
- Standing Water Over Your Septic Tank.
- Bad Smells Coming From Your Yard.
- You Hear Gurgling Water.
- You Have A Sewage Backup.
- How often should you empty your septic tank?
How full should my septic tank be?
A septic tank should always be “filled” to its normal liquid level, or the bottom of the outlet pipe which carries effluent to the absorption area. This normal liquid level is usually between 8” to 12” from the top of the tank on average (see picture at right).
Can I shower if my septic tank is full?
Only the water would get out into the leach field in a proper system unless you run too much water too fast. The thing to do is to run your shower water outside into it’s own drain area, but it may not be allowed where you are. Used to be called gray water system.
How far down is a leach field?
A typical drainfield trench is 18 to 30 inches in depth, with a maximum soil cover over the disposal field of 36 inches.
What causes a septic drain field to fail?
Many things can cause a septic field to fail, but the primary culprit in septic field failure is overloading, either from too much water or biological overgrowth. Flooding the septic system – and eventually the septic field – with too much water can cause field failure.
Do septic enzymes really work?
There is little scientific data to suggest that you should add bacteria or enzymes to your septic system. The United States Environmental Protection Agency reported that biological additives do not appear to improve the performance of healthy septic tanks.
Can a drain field be cleaned?
It is often possible to clean and renew a clogged septic leach field instead of replacing the drain field lines. Septic field lines can fail to drain when heavy solids accumulate and block perforations in the lines. You can use a sewer jetter to clean perforated PVC septic leach field lines from 2″ to 6″ ID.
Will a flooded septic tank fix itself?
Most septic tanks are not damaged by flooding since they are below ground and completely covered. However, septic tanks and pump chambers can fill with silt and debris, and must be professionally cleaned. If the soil absorption field is clogged with silt, a new system may have to be installed.
Can heavy rain affect septic tank?
It is common to have a septic back up after or even during a heavy rain. Significant rainfall can quickly flood the ground around the soil absorption area (drainfield) leaving it saturated, making it impossible for water to flow out of your septic system.
Septic System Guide: How It Works and How to Maintain It
As soon as you flush the toilet in most metropolitan locations, the waste is pumped out to the nearest sewage treatment facility. Garbage is processed at this factory, which separates it into two types of waste: water that is clean enough to be dumped into a river and solids known as residual waste. The remaining material is either disposed of in landfill or utilized as fertilizer. Septic systems, which are used in places where there aren’t any sewage treatment plants, provide a similar function, but on a much smaller scale.
What are Septic Tanks and How Do They Work?
Septic tanks are normally composed of concrete or heavyweight plastic and have a capacity of 1000 to 2000 gallons, depending on the manufacturer. In the tank, there are two chambers that are divided by a portion of a wall. The waste from the residence is channeled into the bigger room. Solids sink to the bottom of the chamber, and liquids make their way through a partial wall into the smaller second chamber, which is located above it. Anaerobic bacteria, which are found naturally in the environment, digest the solids and convert them into water, carbon dioxide, and a tiny amount of indigestible debris.
Septic Fields Distribute Liquid Effluent
The second chamber has an output pipe via which the liquid (known as effluent) from the tank is discharged to a disposal or leach field, depending on the situation. It is drained into the earth by a network of perforated pipes or through perforated plastic structures known as galleries, which are constructed of perforated plastic. It is common practice to lay the pipe or galleries in a bed of gravel, which aids in dispersing the liquid. During the course of the effluent’s percolation through the soil, the soil absorbs remaining bacteria and particles, resulting in water that is safe to drink by the time the water reaches the aquifer deeper down.
They are not much deeper than that since a large quantity of water escapes through evaporation or is transpired by grass growing above ground.
If you have sandy soils that drain too rapidly, you may not be able to treat the wastewater properly.
Sometimes the water cannot be disposed of properly because the natural soils include a high concentration of silt or clay.
Topsoil and grass are applied to the mound, which allows more water to leave through transpiration and evaporation than would otherwise be possible.
Septic Systems Rely on Gravity, Most of the Time
The majority of septic systems rely on gravity to transfer the liquid from the home to the tank and then to the field where it will be disposed of. However, due to the slope of the land, the tank or the field may need to be higher than the house in some instances. It is necessary to have a pump, or occasionally two pumps, in order for this to operate. A grinder pump, which liquefies sediments and is installed in a pit in the basement or crawlspace of the home, will be used if the tank is higher than the house.
Sewage pumps are essentially large sump pumps that are used for heavy-duty applications.
How to Treat Your Septic System
It is not necessary to do much to keep your septic system in good working order, other than cut the grass above it and keep the drainage area free of trees and plants with roots that may block it.
How Often Do You Need to Pump A Septic Tank?
You should have a septic provider pump out the particles from your tank every two years, at the absolute least. A manhole at the surface of the tank will provide the pump operator access, but older systems may necessitate digging a hole in the tank’s top so the pumping hatch can be exposed. Unless the tank is continuously pumped, sediments will build up in it and ultimately make their way into the leach field, clogging it. You’ll know it’s occurring because untreated effluent will rise to the surface of the tank and back up into the home, causing it to overflow.
Pumping the tank on a regular basis can ensure that the leach fields continue to work eternally.
What to Do if Your Septic System Fails
Pumps in a pumped septic system will ultimately fail, just as they will in any mechanical system. Most pumps are equipped with an alarm that sounds when the effluent level in the pit is greater than it should be, indicating that the pump has failed and has to be replaced. This is a job that should be left to the professionals. Visit the following website to locate a trusted list of installation and septic system service companies in your area:
- The National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association’s Septic Locator
- The National Association of Wastewater Technicians
- And the National Association of Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association
It is rare for a homeowner to have to worry about their septic system because it is well-maintained and doesn’t cause problems. Simple maintenance, such as keeping the tank pumped and the lawn trimmed, should result in decades of trouble-free service. What kind of protection do you have in place for your home’s systems and appliances against unforeseen maintenance needs? If this is the case, you might consider purchasing a house warranty.
- Home Warranty Coverage for Roof Leaks
- Septic Warranty Coverage and Costs
- And more. Plans for protecting your mobile home’s warranty
- What Is Home Repair Insurance and How Does It Work? How to Find the Most Reasonably Priced Home Appliance Insurance
How Does a Septic Tank Work?
Mr. Fix-It-Up-For-The-Family You may save a lot of money if you understand how a sewage treatment system works—and what can go wrong—so that you can handle your own septic system maintenance.
How does a septic tank work?
Pumping the tank on a regular basis eliminates sludge and scum, which helps to keep a septic system in good working order. It is possible for a well-designed and well built septic system to last for decades, or it might collapse in a matter of years. It is entirely up to you as long as you can answer the question of how do septic tanks function. Healthy septic systems are very inexpensive to maintain, but digging up and replacing a septic system that has completely collapsed may easily cost tens of thousands in labor and material costs.
It’s critical to understand how a septic tank works in order to maintain one.
Let’s take a look below ground and observe what happens in a properly operating septic system, shall we? After that, I’ll explain why things go wrong and offer you some tips on how to keep your system in peak operating condition.
Understand that a septic system is a cafeteria for bacteria
Bacteria are responsible for the proper operation of a septic system. They decompose garbage, resulting in water that is clean enough to safely trickle down into the earth’s surface. The entire system is set up to keep bacteria healthy and busy at all times. Some of them reside in the tank, but the majority of them are found in the drain field. 1. The septic tank is the final destination for all waste. 2. The majority of the tank is filled with watery waste, referred to as “effluent.” Anaerobic bacteria begin to break down the organic matter in the effluent as soon as it enters the system.
- A layer of sludge settles to the bottom of the container.
- Scum is mostly constituted of fats, greases, and oils, among other substances.
- Grease and oils float to the surface of the water.
- (5) A filter stops the majority of particles from reaching the exit pipe.
- The effluent is discharged into the drain field.
- Effluent is allowed to leak into the surrounding gravel because of holes in the drain septic field pipe.
- The garbage is completely decomposed by aerobic bacteria found in gravel and dirt.
- Potable water seeps into the groundwater and aquifer system from the surface.
Septic Tank Clean Out: Don’t abuse the system
Septic systems that have been correctly planned and constructed require just occasional ‘pumping’ to remove the sludge and scum that has built up inside the tank. However, if you don’t understand how a septic tank works, you may unintentionally hurt or even destroy the system.
- Drains are used to dispose of waste that decomposes slowly (or not at all). Cigarette butts, diapers, and coffee grounds are all known to cause issues. Garbage disposers, if utilized excessively, can introduce an excessive amount of solid waste into the system. Lint from synthetic fibers is emitted from washing machine lint traps. This substance is not degraded by bacteria in the tank and drain septic field. Bacteria are killed by chemicals found in the home, such as disinfecting cleansers and antibacterial soaps. The majority of systems are capable of withstanding limited usage of these goods, but the less you use them, the better. When a large amount of wastewater is produced in a short period of time, the tank is flushed away too quickly. When there is too much sludge, bacteria’s capacity to break down waste is reduced. Sludge can also overflow into the drain field if there is too much of it. Sludge or scum obstructs the flow of water via a pipe. It is possible for tree and shrub roots to obstruct and cause harm to a drain field. Compacted soil and gravel prevent wastewater from seeping into the ground and deprive germs of oxygen. Most of the time, this is caused by vehicles driving or parking on the drain field.
Get your tank pumped…
Your tank must be emptied on a regular basis by a professional. Pumping eliminates the accumulation of sludge and scum that has accumulated in the tank, which has caused the bacterial action to be slowed. If you have a large tank, it may be necessary to pump it once a year; but, depending on the size of your tank and the quantity of waste you send through the system, you may go two or three years between pumpings. Inquire with your inspector about an approximate guideline for how frequently your tank should be pumped.
…but don’t hire a pumper until you need it
Inspections and pumping should be performed on a regular basis. However, if you’re not afraid of getting your hands dirty, you can check the sludge level yourself using a device known as The Sludge Judge. It ranges in price from $100 to $125 and is widely available on the internet. Once you’ve determined that your tank is one-third full of sludge, you should contact a contractor to come out and pump it out completely.
Install an effluent filter in your septic system
Garbage from your home accumulates into three distinct strata.
The septic filter is responsible for preventing blockage of the drain field pipes.
Septic tank filter close-up
The septic tank filter is responsible for capturing suspended particles that may otherwise block the drain field pipes. Obtain an effluent filter for your tank from your contractor and place it on the outflow pipe of your tank. (It will most likely cost between $50 and $100, plus labor.) This device, which helps to prevent sediments from entering the drain field, will need to be cleaned out on a regular basis by a contractor to maintain its effectiveness.
Solution for a clogged septic system
If your septic system becomes clogged and you find yourself having to clean the filter on a regular basis, you might be tempted to simply remove the filter altogether. Hold on to it. Solids, wastewater, and scum are separated into three levels in septic tanks, which allows them to function properly (see illustration above). Solids sink to the bottom of the container, where microbes breakdown them. The scum, which is made up of trash that is lighter than water, rises to the surface. In the drainage field, the middle layer of effluent leaves the tank and goes through an underground network of perforated pipes to the drainage field.
- Keep the effluent filter in place since it is required by your state’s health law.
- Waste particles might flow through the filter and clog the perforated pipes if the filter is not used.
- Your filter, on the other hand, should not require cleaning every six months.
- A good chance is high that you’re flushing filter-clogging things down the toilet, such as grease, fat, or food scraps.
- A garbage disposal will not be able to break down food particles sufficiently to allow them to flow through the septic tank filtration system.
- Plastic items, disposable diapers, paper towels, nonbiodegradable goods, and tobacco products will clog the system if they are flushed through it.
- More information on removing lint from your laundry may be found here.
Get an inspection
The temptation to just remove the filter may arise if your septic system becomes blocked and you have to clean it on a regular basis. It should be preserved. Solids, effluent, and scum are separated into three levels in a septic tank, which allows waste to be separated into three layers (see illustration above). Microorganisms breakdown the particles that settle to the bottom of the tank. It is the scum that floats on top because it is made up of trash that is lighter than water. In the drainage field, the intermediate layer of effluent leaves the tank and is carried away by subterranean perforated pipes.
- Keep the effluent filter in place since your state’s health law mandates it.
- In addition, removing the filter may result in a far bigger (and more expensive) problem down the road.
- Cleaning and unclogging the system would need substantial digging.
- The majority of filters don’t need to be cleaned until the tank is pumped, which occurs every two to five years on average, and then only when necessary.
- Food disposal is an error that many people make.
- Solids can accumulate in a septic tank to levels as high as 50% more than normal.
More information on what should not be flushed down the toilet can be obtained by contacting your local health authority. More information on removing lint from laundry may be found here.
Alternatives to a new drain field
If an examination or a sewage backup indicate that your drain field is in need of replacement, the only option is to replace it completely. As a result, it’s important to talk with a contractor about other possibilities before proceeding with the project.
- Pipes should be cleaned. A rotating pressure washer, used by a contractor, may be used to clean out the drain septic field pipes. The cost of “jetting” the pipes is generally around $200. Chemicals should be used to clean the system. A commercial solution (not a home-made one) that enhances the quantity of oxygen in the drain field should be discussed with your contractor before installing your new system. Septic-Scrub is a product that I suggest. A normal treatment will cost between $500 and $1,000. Make the soil more pliable. The practice of “terra-lifting,” which involves pumping high-pressure air into several spots surrounding the drain field, is authorized in some regions. Some contractors use it to shatter compacted dirt around the pipes. Depending on the circumstances, this might cost less than $1,000 or as much as $4,000 or more.
Protect your drain septic field from lint
When this device is in place, it inhibits lint from entering the system, especially synthetic fibers that bacteria are unable to digest. One of these filters, which I’ve designed and termed theSeptic Protector, was invented by me. An additional filter is included in the price of around $150 plus delivery. Learn more about how to filter out laundry lint in this article.
Don’t overload the septic system
Reduce the amount of water you use. The volume of water that flows into your tank, particularly over a short period of time, can be reduced to avoid untreated waste from being flushed into your drain field. Replace outdated toilets with low-flow ones, install low-flow showerheads, and, perhaps most importantly, wash laundry throughout the week rather than just on Saturday mornings to save water.
Meet the Expert
Water consumption should be kept to a minimum. The volume of water that flows into your tank, particularly over an extended length of time, can be reduced to avoid untreated waste from being flushed into your drain field. Replace outdated toilets with low-flow ones, install low-flow showerheads, and, perhaps most importantly, wash laundry throughout the week rather than just on Saturday mornings to conserve water.
How a Septic System Works – and Common Problems
Reduce your water use. Reducing the quantity of water that flows into your tank, particularly over a short period of time, will help to prevent the flushing of untreated waste into your drain field. Replace outdated toilets with low-flow ones, install low-flow showerheads, and, perhaps most importantly, wash laundry throughout the week rather than just on Saturday morning.
The wastewater is collected in the septic tank once it has been discharged from the residence. Septic tanks are normally between 1,000 and 2,000 gallons in capacity and are composed of concrete, strong plastic, or metal, depending on the model. Highly durable concrete tanks, which should endure for 40 years or more provided they are not damaged, are the most common. Many contemporary tanks are designed with two chambers in order to maximize efficiency. Household wastewater is collected in the septic tank, where it is separated and begins to degrade before being discharged into the leach field.
- In the tank, oil and grease float to the top of the tank, where they are known as scum, while solid waste falls to the bottom, where they are known as sludge.
- Bacteria and other microorganisms feed on the sediments at the bottom of the tank, causing them to decompose in an anaerobic (without oxygen) process that begins at the bottom of the tank.
- Solids and grease must be pushed out of the system on a regular basis in order for it to continue to function effectively.
- Each gallon added to the tank results in one gallon being discharged to the leach field, leach pit, or other similar treatment facility.
A large amount of water delivered too rapidly to the tank may discharge untreated effluent, along with oil and particulates, into the leach field, where it may block the field and cause a backup.
When used properly, a leach field (also known as a “drain field”) is a series of perforated pipes that are typically buried in gravel trenches 18 to 36 inches below grade — deep enough to avoid freezing, but close enough to the surface that air can reach the bacteria that further purify the effluent (see illustration below). As little as 6 inches might separate you from the ground surface, depending on your soil type and municipal regulations. It is customary to cover the perforated pipes with approximately two inches of gravel and a layer of topsoil that is 18 to 24 inches in depth.
- Grass is often sown above the ground.
- The leach field is comprised of rows of perforated pipes in gravel trenches that are used to spread wastewater over a vast area in order to further purify it.
- A bacteria-rich slime mat forms where the gravel meets the soil, and it is responsible for the majority of the water purification work.
- Despite the fact that wastewater freezes at a far lower temperature than pure water, freezing is still a hazard in cold areas.
- The leftover pathogens are converted into essential plant nutrients by these organisms, while sand, gravel, and soil filter out any solids that remain.
- If the system is operating effectively, the filtered wastewater will return to the aquifer as naturally clean water that is suitable for human consumption at this stage.
- Alternative systems may be permitted in situations when traditional leach fields are unable to function properly owing to poor soil conditions or a high water table.
- Special systems may also be necessary in regions where there are flood plains, bodies of water, or other ecologically sensitive areas to protect against flooding.
SIZING THE LEACH FIELD
Using perforated pipes put in gravel-filled trenches, the drain field is sized to accommodate the number of beds in the house. In order for the system to function successfully, the leach field must be appropriately sized for the soil type and amount of wastewater, which is normally determined by the number of bedrooms in the house. In order for the liquid to seep into the soil, it must be permeable enough to do so. As a result, the denser the soil, the larger the leach field that is necessary.
- Better to have surplus capacity in your system than to have it cut too close to the bone.
- Septic tank backup into your house, pooling on the surface of the earth, or polluting local groundwater are all possibilities if the ground is incapable of absorbing the liquid.
- Dense clay soils will not absorb the liquid at a sufficient rate, resulting in a backlog.
- If the soil is mostly composed of coarse sand and gravel, it might drain at such a rapid rate that untreated sewage can poison the aquifer or damage surrounding bodies of water.
- Alternative systems may be permitted in situations when traditional leach fields are unable to function properly owing to poor soil conditions or a high water table.
These systems sometimes cost twice or three times as much as a regular system and require significantly more upkeep. Near flood plains, bodies of water, and other ecologically sensitive places, special systems may also be necessary to protect people and property.
SEPTIC SYSTEM CAREMAINTENANCE REQUIRED
It is designed to accommodate the amount of bedrooms by utilizing perforated pipes installed in gravel-filled ditches. A correctly sized leach field for the soil type and amount of wastewater is required for the system to function effectively, and this is often determined by the number of bedrooms in the building. In order for the liquid to seep into the soil, it must be permeable enough to do so. As a result, the denser the soil, the larger the leach field that must be constructed. With average soils, the total leach field size for a three-bedroom house might range from around 500 to 1,500 square feet.
- A growing family or an unusually rainy spring with saturated soils and a higher-than-normal water table might be in store for you this year.
- The system will also not function properly if there is not enough excellent soil under the surface before it reaches rock, impermeable hardpan, or the water table.
- In other cases, though, the earth might be very permeable.
- All of these considerations must be taken into consideration by the system’s designers.
- A standard system might cost two or three times as much as a high-end system, and they require more frequent servicing.
- Distribute your washing loads and other high-water-use activities across the week
- And In the kitchen and bathroom, use low-flow appliances, faucets, and fixtures. Toilets, in general, are the source of the greatest amount of water use. Water should be diverted away from the leach field from the yard, gutters, and basement sump pumps.
In addition, refrain from flushing sediments, strong chemicals, and just about anything else down the toilet or sink other than biological waste and white toilet paper. Avoid using garbage disposals in the kitchen. If you really must have one, keep it for small non-meat bits only. Avoid flushing chemicals or paints down the toilet since many chemicals can destroy beneficial microorganisms or cause water contamination in the surrounding area. Avoid flushing the following down the toilet:
- Grease, fats, and animal scraps
- Paints, thinners, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals
- And a variety of other materials sanitary napkins, tampons, and other supplies Paper towels and disposable diapers are examples of such products. Egg shells, coffee grounds, and nut shells are all good options. Antibacterial soaps and antibiotics are available.
It is preferable to put grass over the leach field and to refrain from driving or parking in the vicinity. Excessive weight placed on top of the drain field might compress the earth, diminishing its efficiency as a drain field. Drain pipes can also become clogged by trees and plants with invasive roots. In order to prevent damage to the leach field, the following measures should be taken:
- Heavy machinery should not be driven, parked, or stored on top of the leach field (or septic tank). Placement of a deck, patio, pool, or any other sort of construction over the leach field is prohibited. Remove any large trees or other plants with deep roots from the leach field. Grass is the most effective groundcover.
Even with careful use and routine maintenance, however, leach fields are not guaranteed to survive indefinitely. It is inevitable that the soil will get saturated with dissolved elements from the wastewater, and that the soil will be unable to absorb any more incoming water. The presence of an odorous wet area over the leach field, as well as plumbing backups in the house, are frequently the first indicators that something is wrong. Many municipalities mandate septic system designs to incorporate a second “reserve drain field” in the case that the first field fails.
A well constructed and maintained system should last for at least 20 to 30 years, if not longer than that. After a few tears, the initial field will naturally heal and may be used once again when the situation calls for it to be. More information on Septic System Maintenance may be found here.
SEPTIC SYSTEM PERFORMANCE PROBLEMS
Poor original design, abuse, or physical damage, such as driving heavy trucks over the leach field, are the root causes of the majority of septic system issues. The following are examples of common situations that might cause a septic system to operate poorly: Plumbing in the home. obstructed or insufficient plumbing vents, a blockage between the home and the septic tank, or an insufficient pitch in the sewer line leading from the house are all possible causes. Sewage tank to leach field connection Septic tank and leach field blockage caused by a closed or damaged tank outlet, a plugged line leading to the leach field caused by tree roots, or a blockage caused by sediments that overflowed from the tank Piping in the leach field.
- Most of the time, tree roots do not make their way through the gravel bed and into the perforated pipe.
- Reduced flows, achieved through the use of flow restrictors and low-flow faucets and fixtures, may be beneficial.
- Because of the seasonal high water table, the soil around the trenches might get saturated, reducing the soil’s ability to absorb wastewater.
- This may frequently be remedied by adding subsurface drains or curtain drains to intercept the water flow into the leach field region and to lower the water table in the immediate area around the drainage system.
- Likewise, see: In order to do a perc test, who should I hire?
- Is It Possible for Septic Systems to Last a Lifetime?
- Performing an Inspection on a Septic System When Is the Best Time to Take a Perc Test?
- Examination of the WellSEPTIC SYSTEMView allSEPTIC SYSTEMarticles Return to the top of the page
Drain Fields 101
There are many people who are unfamiliar with the concept of septic drain fields (sometimes referred to as leach fields), and this might make them feel intimidated. In contrast to the tank, a drain field is often devoid of indicators. When there is no problem with the drain field, it is easy to overlook it. Because the drain field is the most expensive component of a septic system, it is unfortunate that this has happened. Understanding your leach field may help you extend the life of your septic system while also saving you a significant amount of money.
Is it possible for you to feel significantly more at ease with regards to owning and maintaining your septic system? Take a look at our ebook, which is provided below. This book is packed with in-depth knowledge about everything septic, yet it is also readily skimmed.
Drain Field Layout
A typical drain field is made up of three basic components: excellent soil, gravel, and perforated pipe (or tubing with holes in it). A drainfield operates according to a straightforward procedure. The effluent (waste from the septic tank) is collected by the perforated pipe and distributed among the aggregate; as the effluent trickles through the aggregate, it is absorbed by the soil. The soil will filter out the dangerous bacteria, which will then be reintroduced back into the water table. When the septic tank has completed its task of decomposing the waste, it overflows into the drain field.
- Perforated pipes are pipes that feature holes towards the bottom that are not visible from the top.
- As soon as the effluent is discharged from the pipe, it enters the aggregate.
- The aggregate’s goal is to equally spread the effluent so that it may be absorbed by the soil in the same proportion as before.
- If the soil beneath the stone becomes moist, the stone aggregate will begin to fill up the spaces between the stones themselves.
- If the effluent level rises to or exceeds the level of the stone aggregate, there is no more suitable soil on the sides or bottom of the drain field to be found.
- A drain field’s ability to operate is dependent on the quality of the soil.
- The majority of these tests are concerned with your soil, namely with what it is made of and how well it drains.
- Other soils, particularly those that are more clay-like, will not drain as effectively and may necessitate the construction of a bigger drain field to compensate for the lack of adequate drainage.
- Now that we have a better understanding of how a drain field works, we can look at what may go wrong in one.
Drain Field Problems
When you notice patches of thick, lime green grass beginning to grow above your drain field, this indicates that the drain field is not operating properly. But, how did it get there in the first place? It everything comes down to the dirt. As the soil begins to fill up with effluent and sludge, the soil’s capacity declines, and effluent begins to leak out of the ground as a result. The easiest way to think about this is to imagine the drain field as a sponge filled with water. While filling up, a sponge takes up all of the available space in the sponge.
- Due to the lack of a suitable location for the liquid to go, it rises.
- To return to the sponge analogy, let us say It will hold water for as long as you keep filling up the sponge with water until it gets a chance to drain or dry up.
- Not only that, but the soils may be permanently destroyed as a result of the contamination.
- This is why it is so critical to ensure that you are not consuming more water than you require and that there is no extra water departing your home and entering your septic system at any time.
- Sump pumps, in particular, may be quite hazardous.
- A series of severe rains might cause irreversible damage to your irrigation system.
- It doesn’t matter how little the trickle is now; it will cause problems down the line.
This is accomplished by driving across a field on a continuous basis or by moving massive construction trucks across a field.
In the end, it all boils down to the very important empty area in the drain field.
Heavy construction vehicles have enough weight to smash pipes on the job site as well as in the workshop.
If you want to drive near your drain field, it is really useful to be aware of the specific location of the field.
Inform your construction crew that driving is not permitted on the field.
Large construction vehicles may wreak havoc on your field because of their weight. if you are unsure of the location of your field, you may either have your pumper locate it during routine maintenance or you can request that an inspector come out and locate it for you.
Locating Your Drain Field
Seeing patches of lush, lime green grass beginning to grow over your drain field indicates that the system is not working properly. The question is, how did it get there to begin with? Every aspect of farming is influenced by the soil. Eventually, when the soil becomes saturated with effluent and sludge, the soil’s capacity diminishes, and effluent begins to leak out of the ground surface. Think of the drain field as a sponge if you want to grasp what I’m talking about. While filling up, a sponge takes up all of the available space within it.
- Due to the fact that it has nowhere to go, the liquid rises.
- Bringing the sponge concept back into play.
- Additionally, when leach fields receive more water than they should, they will not be able to keep up with the increased volume of wastewater and will eventually overflow and spill into the surrounding land.
- This means that the system may never be able to return to the state it was in before the excess flows were introduced.
- A well that is back-flushed too frequently or a sump pump that is routed into the sewage system are examples of serious difficulties.
- A large portion of the rain that falls on your drain field, as well as the sump pump’s addition of more water from the basement, occurs when you have an excessive amount of rain.
- It is recommended that you check for leaky faucets or toilets on a regular basis and that the condensate line from your air conditioning unit is not leaking into the sewer.
Compaction of soils is another method of causing harm to a drain field.
So, what happens to the drain field as a result of this situation?
After a period of time, the soils become so compacted that they lose their ability to contain any effluent, rendering the field worthless.
Consequently, the field’s drainage area is reduced as a result of the obstruction.
Similarly, building is a complex process that requires expert knowledge and skills.
Large construction vehicles are capable of destroying your land with their sheer weight. For those who are unsure of the location of their field, they may either have their pumper locate it during routine maintenance or they can request that an inspector come out and locate it for them.
- If you notice patches of thick, lime green grass beginning to grow above your drain field, this indicates that the drain field is not operating properly. But how did it get there in the first place? It everything boils down to the dirt. As effluent and sludge begin to accumulate in the soil, the soil’s capacity reduces, and effluent begins to leak out of the ground. This is best understood by imagining the drain field as a sponge. While filling up, a sponge takes up all of the available space within the sponge. Over time, the vacuum area in a drain field is filled with sludge, and the field’s ability to hold water decreases. Because it has nowhere else to go, the liquid begins to rise. A drainfield can also be harmed by an excessive amount of water entering the system. To return to the sponge metaphor, Filling a sponge with water will keep it moist until it has a chance to drain or dry out. In the same manner, if a leach field receives more water than it should, it will be unable to keep up with the volume of surplus wastewater and will eventually overflow and spill into the surrounding terrain. Not only that, but the soils may be permanently harmed as a result of the contamination. This means that the system may never be able to return to the state it was in before the excess flows were received. This is why it is critical to ensure that you are not consuming more water than you require and that no surplus water is draining into your septic system. Some big issues might include a well that was back-flushed too frequently or a sump pump that was diverted into the sewage system. Sump pumps, in particular, can be quite hazardous. If you have a lot of rain, a lot of it will fall on your drain field, and the sump pump will add even more water from the basement. A series of strong rains might inflict irreversible harm to your system. It is recommended that you check for leaky faucets or toilets on a regular basis and that the condensate line from your air conditioning unit is not entering the sewage line. Even a slight trickle, such as this, will cause problems down the line. Compaction of soils can also cause harm to a drain field. This is accomplished by driving continuously across a field or by moving massive construction trucks across a field. What effect does this have on the drain field? It all boils down to the very important empty area in the drain field. As the soils compress, they lose their ability to retain any wastewater, rendering the field ineffective. Heavy construction vehicles have enough weight to smash pipes on the job site as well as in the shop. This causes a clog in the field, reducing the amount of drainage available. If you want to drive close to your drain field, it is really useful to be aware of the specific location of the field. The same is true for construction. Inform your construction crew that driving on the field is prohibited. Massive construction equipment have the weight to completely destroy your field. If you are unsure of the location of your field, you may have your pumper locate it during routine maintenance, or you can hire an inspector to come out and discover it for you.
Drain Fields and Trees
The development of trees is another important component in the health of your septic system. Many times, individuals may plant trees on top of your irrigation system or extremely close to it if they do not know where your field is. We may see this during inspections and consider it a red signal. The roots that extend into the field are the primary source of worry. You may assume that doing so would assist with drainage, but it really has the opposite effect. The roots of the trees will penetrate the pipes and create a “root ball” around the pipes.
- The sludge is subsequently trapped between the hairs of the seal, resulting in a watertight closure.
- Inevitably, the region immediately preceding the halt absorbs the entirety of the liquid and begins to saturate.
- It is recommended that any trees within a 10-foot radius of any septic system be removed.
- The greater the distance between a tree’s location and any component of a septic system, the better.
- There is still a lot to learn about your specific drain field and how to manage it, so keep reading.
- In the meanwhile, have a look at our booklet, which will equip you to cope with any problem you may encounter as a septic system proprietor.
SEPTIC-TANK DRAIN FIELDS: WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT PROTECTING THEM FROM HARM
While a septic system may appear to be impenetrable, the fact is that neglect may cause severe damage, which may even result in a complete shutdown of the system. Septic systems may give many years of reliable service if properly maintained, but they can also be completely damaged by reckless actions. The drain field is an element of your septic system that is particularly prone to failure. More information on this crucial component, as well as numerous important measures that will help to keep your drain field in good condition, may be found in the sections below.
- Generally speaking, a septic drain field is the region where effluents, which are liquid waste products produced by the system, are discharged into the soil, after which the liquid waste products seep through the soils around the area.
- From a structural standpoint, drain fields are composed of many parallel pipelines that empties into a particular substrate that is buried several feet beneath the surface.
- It is for this reason that being vigilant in protecting the septic drain field is so critical to success.
- Because drain fields are so critical to the overall health of a septic system, you must take a proactive approach to prevent them from being damaged or destroyed.
- Keep impurities out of the system that might clog it.
- Never put grease, oil, or other scum-forming compounds into the septic system in order to avoid this situation from developing.
- Instead, direct gray water to a sump pump that will be used solely for disposal.
Drain-field components are often only a few feet below ground level, making them accessible to things that might create a clog or other problems.
Among the other potentially harmful aspects are storage sheds and pavement that is too close to the drain field; anything that creates long-term weight stresses on drain fields should be avoided.
Keep biological activity at a high level.
It is possible to disrupt this activity by killing beneficial microorganisms and cause an imbalance in the environment, which may result in the cessation or reduction in the effectiveness of filtering and cleansing of effluent.
Detergents, pesticides, insecticides, fertilizers, and other potentially toxic compounds are examples of such agents.
On a regular basis, carry out the necessary “upstream” maintenance tasks.
However, even in the absence of dangerous chemicals being introduced into the effluent, the regular processes occurring inside a septic system might eventually result in the closure of drain fields.
Effluent filters, for example, should be cleaned and replaced on a regular basis.
Another important maintenance operation is the pumping out of accumulated sludge that has developed at the tank’s bottom.
Regular pumping of tanks, which may be as often as once a year, is necessary to prevent sludge from departing the tank and contaminating the drain-field lines and causing a backup.
How Does My Septic System Work?
However, while it may seem as though a septic system is impenetrable, the fact is that neglect may cause severe damage, even leading to a complete shutdown of the system. Septic systems may give many years of reliable service if properly maintained, but they can also be completely damaged by thoughtless actions or negligence. The drain field is one of the most susceptible components of your septic system. Detailed information regarding this vital component is provided below, as well as numerous important measures that will help to ensure the long-term integrity of your drainage field.
- Generally speaking, a septic drain field is the region where effluents, which are liquid waste products produced by the system, are discharged into the soil, after which the liquid waste products seep through the soils around the field.
- Drained fields are constructed from a series of parallel pipes that discharge into an unique substrate that is buried several feet below soil surface level.
- As a result, it is extremely important to be vigilant in protecting the septic drain field.
- You must take a proactive posture to protect drain fields from being destroyed since they are so critical to the overall health of your septic system.
- Contaminants that clog the system should be kept out It is critical for drain fields to have regular, uninterrupted flow of wastewater into the surrounding soil, thus any pollutant in the effluent that produces blockages is a major problem.
- If at all possible, avoid dumping gray water into your septic system since detergents and dissolved lipids present in dish and laundry wastewater might contribute to the problem in the long run.
- The physical components of the drain field must be safeguarded Drain-field components are often only a few feet below ground level, making them accessible to things that might create a clog or other issues.
Others that might be damaging include storage buildings and pavement that is built too near to the drain field; anything that creates long-term weight stresses on drain fields should be avoided.
Keep biological activity at a constant level.
Taking away beneficial microbes from the environment might cause an imbalance in the environment, which can lead to the cessation of filtering and cleansing of effluent processes.
Detergents, pesticides, insecticides, fertilizers, and other potentially toxic compounds are examples of such agents, among others.
On a regular basis, carry out the necessary “upstream” upkeep.
However, if regular maintenance is performed on a drainage system, it is possible to keep it operational for a long time.
Pumping off the collected sludge at the bottom of the tank is another essential maintenance duty. Regular pumping of tanks, which may be as often as once a year, is necessary to prevent sludge from departing the tank and contaminating the drain-field lines and other systems.
Common Parts of a Septic System
A septic system is not necessary a complicated system, and each of its components works together to ensure that the waste generated by your family is properly kept and disposed of as soon as possible.
Located beneath the earth on your property, a septic tank is a huge rectangular or cylindrical container composed of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene that collects and treats waste. They are used for homes that do not have access to a sewer system, which is most frequent in rural regions.
Located beneath the earth on your property, a septic tank is a huge rectangular or cylindrical container composed of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene that collects and treats sewage. These onsite sewage facilities are utilized for homes that are not linked to a sewer system, and they are most typically seen in rural environments.
- The presence of greener grass over the drainfield
- Unusual scents in your yard
- And plumbing backups a squishy or muddy surface
If your drainfield becomes clogged, your complete septic system will be unable to work correctly. It is preferable to hire skilled underground service specialists to take care of the problem.
A clogged drainfield might cause your entire septic system to fail to operate correctly. Professional underground service specialists should be called in to deal with the situation.
- If your drainfield becomes clogged, your complete septic system will become inoperable. It is preferable to use skilled underground service specialists to resolve the problem.
If your drainfield becomes clogged, your complete septic system will be unable to work correctly. It is recommended that you hire expert underground service specialists to resolve the problem.
The distribution box, which is positioned between the septic tank and the drainfield, is meant to transport wastewater evenly across the drainfield lines, which are connected to the septic tank.
Leach Drain Field
Often referred to as the septic field, the leach field is a component of your septic system that accepts wastewater from the septic tank. It refers to the network of drainpipes, stones, and a layer of unsaturated soil that make up the drainage system. It moves trash into the soil, where it is eventually re-circulated back into the groundwater supply.
How a Septic System Works
All of these components work together to securely remove wastewater from your house and disperse it into the surrounding environment. Specifically, it accomplishes this by relying on naturally occurring bacteria to break down the materials that are dumped into the septic tank. All of the things that you flush down the toilet or rinse down the drain fall into one of three categories:
- These components work together to securely remove wastewater from your house and disperse it into the surrounding environment. As a result, the bacteria in the soil and septic tank work together to break down the waste products that are dumped into the tank. All of the substances that you flush down the toilet or rinse down the drain fall into one of three groups:
All of these components work together to securely remove wastewater from your house and discharge it into the earth. Specifically, it accomplishes this by relying on naturally occurring bacteria to degrade the materials that are dumped into the septic system. All of the substances that you flush down the toilet or rinse down the drain fall into one of three groups.
Septic System Issues
As previously stated, septic systems are susceptible to high water levels as well as clogged drainfields and leach fields. There are, however, several other septic-related considerations to bear in mind:
- In addition to excessive water levels and clogged drainfields, septic systems can also endure odors and clogging. But there are several additional septic-related considerations to consider as well:
As previously stated, septic systems are susceptible to high water levels as well as clogged drainfields.
There are a few more septic-related considerations to bear in mind:
What is a Drain Field & How Does it Work? – Septic Maxx
As previously stated, septic systems are susceptible to high water levels as well as blocked drainfields. However, there are a few more septic-related considerations to bear in mind:
Drain Field Arrangement
The layout of a drain field is really straightforward. A drain field is typically comprised of a network of downward-sloping pipes with holes cut into them that all begin from the septic tank and extend outward from it. The pipes are often made of a porous substance such as gravel, and they are typically buried beneath the earth. The setup is intended to prevent wastewater from being consumed by animals as well as to prevent runoff from entering the environment.
Drain Field Purpose
Septic tanks would simply overflow, resulting in runoff and a foul stench in your yard if you did not have a drain field installed. The same thing happens when there is an obstruction in your drain field pipes, preventing the wastewater from flowing.
Preventative maintenance is the most effective method of keeping your drain field in good condition. Avoid flushing solids down the toilet and into your drains at all costs. These solids have the potential to become trapped in a drain field pipe, resulting in a backlog. Always remember not to flush fats, oils, or grease (FOGs) down the toilet. If FOGs get into your drain field, they can create a thick crust to form on the top layer of your septic tank, which can lead to septic tank blockages.
Do not instantly resort to spending hundreds of dollars on a professional to address an issue with your drain field if you do have a problem with it.
These solutions have the ability to clean your system and remove a variety of clogs.
How your Septic System Works
Maintenance of your drain field is best accomplished through proactive measures such as preventative maintenance. Don’t put solids down your drain or flush them down the toilet. These sediments have the potential to become trapped in a drain field pipe, resulting in a backlog of drainage water. It’s also important not to flush fats, oils, or grease down the toilet. If FOGs get into your drain field, they can create a thick crust to form on the top layer of your septic tank, which can result in septic tank blockages.
Do not instantly resort to spending hundreds of dollars on a professional to address an issue with your drain field if you do experience one.
There are a variety of obstructions that these goods can help you clear up with.
The septic tank is the first phase in the wastewater treatment process. Every plumbing fixture in your home will discharge into the septic tank, where it will begin to decompose. Solid matter will settle to the bottom of the container, creating an environment that is favourable to microbial growth. These bacteria will begin to decompose the solid waste, releasing water known as effluent as well as an oil that rises to the surface of the water. Baffling connects the two halves of the septic tank, which are joined by L-shaped pipes called baffles.
Only the effluent water is allowed to pass via these valves and into the septic system. It is necessary to repeat this procedure twice more before the wastewater is ready to be discharged back into the environment.
In a drain field, also known as a leach field, effluent water is allowed to dissipate into the soil through a network of perforated pipes. These pipes are typically buried one to two feet below ground level and are surrounded by gravel to aid in the distribution of the water uniformly throughout the system. In addition, when the effluent water sinks to the water table, the earth absorbs any extra bacteria or particles that were not removed by the septic tank. By the time it reaches the water table, the water has been proven to be absolutely harmless.
How to Care for your Septic System
Leach fields are a system of perforated pipelines that allow effluent water to dissipate into the soil and become a part of the soil. This type of pipe is often placed one to two feet below ground level and surrounded by gravel to assist distribute the water more evenly throughout the earth. If any more germs or particles are not removed by the septic tank before it begins to sink down to the water table, the earth will trap them. Until it reaches the water table, this water has passed all safety tests.
- If you flush a large amount of sediments or items that cannot be broken down by these bacteria, the system may become clogged and ineffective.
- It happens all of the time: a homeowner drives over the drain field, destroying it and leaving behind an unpleasant stench as well as expensive repair bills to pay for it.
- There are a variety of additives available for purchase that promise to aid in the breakdown of solids in your septic system as well as the drainage of your drainage field.
- Septic system difficulties that prevent your system from emptying correctly indicate that you should consult with a septic system specialist.
- Every two to three years, it is advised that you pump the tank out.
Signs of Failure
Knowing some of the warning signs of a probable breakdown in your septic system might help you avoid more serious problems in the future. When the system is not functioning effectively, it can manifest itself in a variety of ways, including an unpleasant odor around the septic field, sluggish emptying toilets and sinks, and excessive plant growth over the field. You should contact a specialist if you detect any of the indicators of failure listed above, as soon as possible. Withholding attention to any problems with your septic system will result in more extensive and expensive repairs down the road.
Many homeowners are concerned about how their septic system works, but this is not something that they need be concerned about.
A septic system may endure for several decades before it has to be replaced if it receives regular maintenance and is kept on the lookout for any possible problems. Posts from the recent past