How Far Does A Typical Septic Tank Drainfield Extend? (Solution found)

  • Septic drainfield trench length: The maximum length of a trench is typically about 150 feet but we have found installations that were three times that length. Some writers opine that the maximum septic trench line is 100 feet.

How far do field lines extend from septic tank?

Your septic system site plan is typically drawn right on top of your property survey showing the septic tank ‘setbacks’ with tank 5-10 feet from the house, the leach field at least 20 feet from the house, at least 100 feet away from wells and streams, 25 feet away from dry gulches, and 10 feet away from the property

How far does a leach field extend?

The leach field is a series of trenches that may be up to 100-feet long and 1 foot to 3 feet in width, separated by six feet or more, depending on local requirements, and sometimes constructed leaving space between the original lines to install replacement leach lines when needed.

How far should drain field be from septic tank?

Common guidelines require at least 50′ clearance distance between a well and a septic system tank or 150′ between a well and a septic drainfield or leaching bed but you will see that different authorities may recommend different distances. Local soil and rock conditions can make these “rules of thumb” unreliable.

How big is a septic tank drainage field?

Drainage fields must be a minimum of 10m from a watercourse, 50m from a water abstraction point and 15m from a building. They should also be sufficiently far away enough from any other drainage fields, mounds or soakaways so that the soakage capacity of the ground is not exceeded.

How close can you build next to a drain field?

– A full foundation must be 10 feet from the septic tank and 20 feet from the leaching area. – A slab foundation such as a garage must be 10 feet from the septic tank and 10 feet from the leaching area. – Concrete columns for a deck must be 5 feet from the leaching area and not disturb the septic system.

How far should a septic tank be from a house?

Most importantly, a septic tank must be at least seven metres from a house, defined as a ‘habitable property’. Septic tanks are built underground and release wastewater slowly into the surrounding environment. For this reason, they must be a set distance away from a home.

How far apart should a well and septic tank be?

Department of Health in many States requires that new septic tanks or human-waste lagoons to be installed at least 50 feet from a well. Septic tank drain fields must be at least 100 feet from a well.

How deep is a typical leach field?

A standard leach line is considered to be three (3) feet wide and three (3) feet deep with a length as required.

Can a leach field be too deep?

Drain Field Depth The result is a drain field about 3 to 4 feet deep. Sometimes, however, a drain field may need to be a bit shallower and can result in drain pipes as close to the surface as 6 inches. Underground obstacles can cause this situation.

How do I calculate the size of my drain field?

Drainfield Size

  1. The size of the drainfield is based on the number of bedrooms and soil characteristics, and is given as square feet.
  2. For example, the minimum required for a three bedroom house with a mid range percolation rate of 25 minutes per inch is 750 square feet.

How far should a pool be from a leach field?

Installing an inground pool has greater restrictions and will probably need to be installed at least 15 to 25 feet away from the septic tank or leach lines, depending on your county’s code requirements.

How do I know if my septic tank has a drainage field?

Some of the signs that your property has a septic tank are:

  1. The tank needing to be emptied each year.
  2. 2, 3 or 4 manholes in close proximity to each other above ground.
  3. Possible vent pipes above ground – these take unpleasant smells and gasses from the tank and distribute them into the air.

Do I have to replace my septic tank by 2020?

Under the new rules, if you have a specific septic tank that discharges to surface water (river, stream, ditch, etc.) you are required to upgrade or replace your septic tank treatment system to a full sewage treatment plant by 2020, or when you sell a property, if it’s prior to this date.

How a Septic System Works – and Common Problems

This Article Discusses Septic Tanks are a type of septic tank that is used to dispose of waste. Field Sizing and System MaintenanceProblems with the Leach FieldSystem Performance Questions and comments are welcome. See Also: Septic System Frequently Asked Questions Articles on SEPTIC SYSTEM may be found here. In locations where there are no municipal sewage systems, each residence is responsible for treating its own sewage on its own property, which is known as a “on-site sewage disposal system,” or septic system, more popularly.

One of the most commonly seen types of leach field is composed of a series of perforated distribution pipes, each of which is placed in a gravel-filled absorption trench.

SEPTIC TANK

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.

Leach Field

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

If you take good care of your system, you will be rewarded with years of trouble-free operation. Pumping the septic tank on a regular basis is necessary to remove the particles (sludge) and grease layer (scum) that have built up in the tank. The solids will ultimately overflow and spill into the leach field, decreasing its efficacy and diminishing its lifespan if this is not done. The rehabilitation of a clogged leach field is difficult, if not impossible; thus, constant pumping is essential!

  1. Cooking fats, grease, and particles may also wash into the leach field if the tank is too small for the amount of water being used or if the tank is overcrowded on a regular basis.
  2. Extra water from excessive residential consumption or yard drainage can overwhelm the system, transporting oil and particles into the leach field and causing it to overflow.
  3. In addition, don’t try to complete a week’s worth of laundry for a family of five in a single day.
  4. To minimize overburdening the system, the following measures should be taken:
  • 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.

  1. Most of the time, tree roots do not make their way through the gravel bed and into the perforated pipe.
  2. Reduced flows, achieved through the use of flow restrictors and low-flow faucets and fixtures, may be beneficial.
  3. Because of the seasonal high water table, the soil around the trenches might get saturated, reducing the soil’s ability to absorb wastewater.
  4. 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.
  5. Likewise, see: In order to do a perc test, who should I hire?
  6. Is It Possible for Septic Systems to Last a Lifetime?
  7. Performing an Inspection on a Septic System When Is the Best Time to Take a Perc Test?
  8. Examination of the WellSEPTIC SYSTEMView allSEPTIC SYSTEMarticles Return to the top of the page

Septic System Owner’s Guide

What kind of computer system do you have? In North Carolina, there are many distinct types of septic systems in use, but the vast majority of the over 2 million systems in use throughout the state are minor variations of the typical septic system. This system includes a septic tank as well as a drainfield that is filled with gravel (usually two to six trenches). Since the mid- to late-1990s, classic gravel aggregate trenches have been phased out in favor of innovative gravel-less trench designs, which have become increasingly popular.

  1. Some of the most often used gravel-free trenches nowadays are either long and narrow, tunnel-shaped chambers in the trenche, or gravel replacements such as expanded polystyrene aggregate.
  2. A booklet from the Cooperative Extension Service, AG-439-13, Septic Systems and Their Maintenance, outlines the typical system, easy adjustments to it, and the most significant maintenance requirements.
  3. The application of these technologies is now widespread, whether in new housing projects or in the replacement or repair of malfunctioning septic systems in residences and businesses.
  4. In order to address this, state regulations provide specified maintenance requirements for a number of these more advanced technology.
  5. Furthermore, state regulations mandate that the health department examine these systems on a regular basis.
  6. Are you familiar with the location of your septic system and repair area?
  7. If you do not have a copy of your septic system permit or a soil evaluation document, contact your local health department.
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This Septic System Owner’s Guidefile folder should contain the following items: It is normally possible to establish the location of a septic tank and drainfield by looking at a copy of the permit and consulting with a septic contractor, a consultant, or the local health department A “repair area or replacement area,” in which a second drainfield might be constructed if necessary, has been required on nearly all home sites approved since the early 1980s, according to state law.

It should be noted on your septic system permit that this repair area was designated by the health department when the site was allowed.

Some Important Facts to Understand About Your Septic System

  • In what form of septic system do you have
  • Where is it situated
  • And where is the repair area situated? Is the septic system up and running? In the past, has it been kept up to date? What can you do on a day-to-day basis to ensure that your system continues to function properly? What kind of maintenance will be required in the future

What kind of septic system do you have; where is it placed; and where is the repair area located; and The septic system should be functional. In the past, has it been well-maintained? When it comes to keeping your system running effectively on a daily basis, what can you do? What kind of future maintenance will be required;

  • What is the age of the system
  • What is the location of the tank and drainfield (they may or may not be on the same property or even on the same parcel of land)
  • When was the last time the tank was pumped
  • What is the frequency with which it has been pushed
  • Is it necessary to clean the “effluent filter” in the septic tank on a regular basis (effluent filters are required for systems established after 1999)
  • Has there been any indication of a likely failure? In what location can I get a copy of the permit and documentation proving how effectively (or poorly) the system has been maintained
  • Do you know whether any improvements have been made to the house that would necessitate expanding the capacity of the system? Is the system still operational, and if so, when and by whom was it repaired?

If the house has only recently been constructed, request that the septic system contractor give you with a “as built” schematic, which may include elements that were not included in the permit. If the house is equipped with a pump, request that the contractor and the local health agency supply specifics on how the pump was initially installed. In order to properly care for your septic system, you must manage it on a day-to-day basis as well as perform periodic maintenance and repairs. Layout of a septic system.

  • However, the drainfield does not have an indefinite capacity. The average daily water use per person is 50 gallons. Even for brief periods of time, the soil drainfield has a maximum daily design capacity of 120 gallons per bedroom, which is routinely exceeded. Overloads can occur at any time of year, on a daily basis, or on weekends. Fix any leaky faucets or toilets you may have. Water conservation will help you get more use out of your system.

Keep waste disposal to sewage alone.

  • It is not acceptable to utilize your septic tank as a garbage can for items such as cigarette butts, tissues, feminine hygiene products, cotton swabs, cat litter, coffee grinds, or disposable diapers. Reduce the amount of time you use your garbage disposal. These contribute a significant amount of additional solids. It is not recommended to throw fat or cooking oil down the drain. You should avoid putting toxic chemicals into your system, such as solvents and oils. You should avoid using paint thinners and paint thinners that have been dumped. You should avoid disinfectants and pesticides. Conserve your funds. Most of the time, commercial septic tank additives are not required.

Ensure that the system is protected against physical harm (site maintenance).

  • Maintain a layer of plants on the soil over the drainfield to prevent soil erosion from occurring. Don’t drive your car above the system’s limits. Try to avoid building over the system or in the repair area. The natural shape of the terrain immediately downslope of the system should be preserved, and this region should be protected against excavation (cutting and filling). Neither asphalt nor concrete should be used to cover the tank or drainfield.

All wastewater should be disposed of in a system that has been authorized.

  • You shouldn’t install a separate pipe to transport washwater to a side ditch or into the woods. This is against the law

The house and the yard (site maintenance)

  • Conserve and preserve the area where your septic tank and drainfield are located
  • Trees that thrive in moist environments should be cut down and removed. Willows, elms, sweetgums, and certain maples are examples of such trees. Surface water should be diverted away from the tank and drainfield by landscaping the yard. Inspect the system to make sure that water from the roof, gutter, and foundation drains does not overflow
  • It is recommended that if your system is located at the base of a slope, you build a french drain to channel subterranean water. Ensure that drainage ditches, subsurface tiles, and drainage outlets are kept in good condition so that water may readily flow from them.

Sewage treatment system (Septic tank)

  • Tanks should be elevated if they are 6 inches or deeper below the surface. They offer quick and convenient access for solids measurement and pumping, as well as for cleaning the effluent filter. The rate at which sludge and scum build in the tank is measured. Make a note of this information and provide it to your expert pumper. Solids should be pushed out of the tank as necessary. Most septic tanks have two sections
  • It is necessary to have them drained out. More information about pumping frequency can be found in the Cooperative Extension Service document AG-439-13, Septic Systems and Their Maintenance, which is available online. It is not necessary to wait till your drainfield collapses before having your tank pumped. By that time, the drainfield may have been completely destroyed. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to septic systems.
Preventive Maintenance Record
Date Work Done Firm Cost
Your Septic System Installer
Name:
Address:
Phone:
Date System Installed:
  • Tanks should be elevated if they are 6 inches or deeper below the ground. They offer quick and convenient access for solids measurement and pumping, as well as for cleaning the effluent filter
  • The rate at which sludge and scum build in the tank is being measured here. Make a note of this information with your expert pumper. Keep the tank clean by pumping solids out of it as necessary. Get both compartments of your septic tank pumped because most of them do. Additional information about pumping frequency can be found in the Cooperative Extension Service article AG-439-13, Septic Systems and Their Maintenance. Don’t put off having your tank pumped until your drainfield collapses. This may be too late to save the drainfield. It is said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to septic systems.

Regulations and safeguards are necessary.

  • Safety precautions and rules

For further information about septic systems, speak with an Extension agent in your county or the local public health agency. This paper is an updated version of a previous publication. It is with gratitude that we acknowledge Tom Konsler (Orange County Health Department), Deanna Osmond, Mitch Woodward, and Grace Lawrence (North Carolina Cooperative Extension) for their contributions to the document’s peer review, as well as Debra Ireland for her work on the document’s graphic design, layout, and editing.

A Beginner’s Guide to Septic Systems

  • Septic systems are used to dispose of waste from homes and buildings. Identifying the location of the septic tank and drainfield
  • What a Septic System Is and How It Works Keeping a Septic System in Good Condition
  • Signs that a septic system is failing include:

Septic systems, also known as on-site wastewater management systems, are installed in a large number of buildings and houses. It is easy to lose sight of septic systems, which operate quietly, gracefully, and efficiently to protect human and environmental health due to their burying location. Septic systems are the norm in rural regions, but they may also be found in a lot of metropolitan places, especially in older buildings. It is critical to understand whether or not your building is on a septic system.

Is Your Home or Building on a Septic System?

It is possible that the solution to this question will not be evident. If a structure looks to be connected to a sewage system, it may instead be connected to a septic system. It is fairly unusual for tenants to be unaware of the final destination of the wastewater generated by their residence. Some of the hints or signs listed below will assist in determining whether the facility is served by a septic system or whether it is supplied by a sewer system:

  • Sewer service will be provided at a cost by the city or municipality. Pay close attention to the water bill to see whether there is a cost labeled “sewer” or “sewer charge” on it. If there is a fee for this service, it is most likely because the facility is connected to a sewage system. Look up and down the street for sewage access ports or manholes, which can be found in any location. If a sewage system runs in front of a property, it is probable that the house is connected to it in some way. Inquire with your neighbors to see if they are connected to a sewer or septic system. The likelihood that your home is on a sewer system is increased if the properties on each side of you are on one as well. Keep in mind, however, that even if a sewage line runs in front of the structure and the nearby residences are connected to a sewer system, your home or building may not be connected to one. If the structure is older than the sewer system, it is possible that it is still on the original septic system. Consult with your local health agency for further information. This agency conducts final inspections of septic systems to ensure that they comply with applicable laws and regulations. There is a possibility that they have an archived record and/or a map of the system and will supply this information upon request

Sewer service will be provided by the city or municipality at a cost. Pay close attention to the water bill to see whether there is a cost labeled “sewer” or “sewer charge” on the statement. If there is a fee for this service, it is most likely because the building is connected to a sewage network. Keep an eye out for sewage access ports or manholes all the way up and down the road. An connected home is more likely to be found near a sewer system that passes in front of the property. Inquire with your neighbors to see if they are connected to a sewer or septic tank.

But bear in mind that even if there’s a sewer line right in front of the structure and the nearby residences are connected to a sewer system, your home or building could not be connected.

Consult with the health department in your area.

Final inspections are performed by this organization to ensure that septic systems comply with applicable rules and regulations. They may have a record of the system and/or a map of the system and will supply this information upon request; and

Locating the Septic Tank and Drainfield

Finding a septic system may be a difficult process. They can be buried anywhere in the yard, including the front, back, and side yards. After a few years, the soil may begin to resemble the surrounding soil, making it impossible to distinguish the system from the surrounding soil. It is possible that in dry weather, the grass will be dryer in the shallow soil over the tank and greener over the drainfield, where the cleansed water will be released, but this is not always the case, especially in hot weather.

  • The contractor who built the house should have presented the initial owner with a map showing the tank and drainfield locations, according to the building code.
  • The installation of the system, as well as any modifications made to it, would have been examined by your local health authority.
  • Unfortunately, if the system is very old, any records related with it may be insufficient or nonexistent, depending on the situation.
  • Look for the point at where the wastewater pipes join together if the building is on a crawlspace or has an unfinished basement.
  • The sewer line that runs through the structure is referred to as the building sewer.
  • To “feel” for the tank, use a piece of re-bar or a similar metal probe.
  • If you use this free service, you may avoid accidentally putting a rod through your gas or water line.

Try to locate the tank after a rainstorm, when the metal probe will be more easily maneuvered through moist dirt.

This should be done with care; extreme caution should be exercised to avoid puncturing the building sewer.

A tank is normally 5 by 8 feet in size, however the dimensions might vary.

Be aware that there may be rocks, pipes, and other debris in the area that “feels” like the tank but is not in fact part of the tank.

However, it is possible to have the lid or access port positioned on a riser in addition to being on the same level as the top of the tank in some cases.

Once the tank has been identified, make a rough drawing of its placement in relation to the house so that it will not be misplaced again!

It may be easier to discover the drainage lines now that the tank has been identified, particularly if the area has been subjected to prolonged periods of drought.

How a Septic System Works

Typical sewage treatment system (figure 1). It is composed of three components (Figure 1): the tank, the drain lines or discharge lines, and the soil treatment area (also known as the soil treatment area) (sometimes called a drainfield or leach field). The size of the tank varies according to the size of the structure. The normal home (three bedrooms, two bathrooms) will often include a 1,000-gallon water storage tank on the premises. Older tanks may only have one chamber, however newer tanks must have two chambers.

  • The tank functions by settling waste and allowing it to be digested by microbes.
  • These layers include the bottom sludge layer, the top scum layer, and a “clear” zone in the center.
  • A typical septic tank is seen in Figure 2.
  • It is fortunate that many of the bacteria involved are found in high concentrations in the human gastrointestinal tract.
  • Although the bacteria may break down some of the stuff in the sludge, they are unable to break down all of it, which is why septic tanks must be cleaned out every three to seven years.
  • In addition, when new water is introduced into the septic tank, an equal volume of water is pushed out the discharge lines and onto the drainfield.
  • The water trickles out of the perforated drain pipes, down through a layer of gravel, and into the soil below the surface (Figure 3).
  • A typical drainfield may be found here.
  • Plants, bacteria, fungus, protozoa, and other microorganisms, as well as bigger critters such as mites, earthworms, and insects, flourish in soil.
  • Mineralogical and metallic elements attach to soil particles, allowing them to be removed from the waste water.

Maintaining a Septic System

The most typical reason for a septic system to fail is a lack of proper maintenance. Septic systems that are failing are expensive to repair or replace, and the expense of repairs rests on the shoulders of the property owner (Figure 4). Fortunately, keeping your septic system in good working order and avoiding costly repairs is rather simple. Figure 4. Septic system failure is frequently caused by a lack of proper maintenance. It is in your best interests to be aware of the location of the system, how it operates, and how to maintain it.

  1. You should pump the tank if you aren’t sure when the last time it was pumped.
  2. It is not permissible to drive or park over the tank or drainage field.
  3. No rubbish should be disposed of in the sink or the toilet.
  4. It’s important to remember that garbage disposals enhance the requirement for regular pumping.
  5. When designing a landscape, keep the septic system in mind.
  6. It is also not recommended to consume veggies that have been cultivated above drainfield lines (see Dorn, S.
  7. Ornamental Plantings on Septic Drainfields.
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C 1030).

Any water that enters your home through a drain or toilet eventually ends up in your septic system.

Don’t put too much strain on the system by consuming a large amount of water in a short period of time.

Additives should not be used.

Various types of additives are available for purchase as treatment options, cleansers, restorers, rejuvenator and boosters, among other things.

To break up oil and grease and unclog drains, chemical additives are available for purchase.

Pumping out the septic tank is not eliminated or reduced by using one of these systems.

They remain floating in the water and travel into the drainfield, where they may block the pipes. Acids have the potential to damage concrete storage tanks and distribution boxes.

Signs a Septic System is Failing

A failed system manifests itself in the following ways:

  • Sinks and toilets drain at a snail’s pace
  • Plumbing that is backed up
  • The sound of gurgling emanating from the plumbing system House or yard aromas that smell like sewage
  • In the yard, there is wet or squishy dirt
  • Water that is gray in hue that has accumulated
  • An region of the yard where the grass is growing more quickly and is becoming greener
  • Water contaminated by bacteria from a well

If you notice any of these indicators, you should notify your local health department immediately. An environmentalist from the health department can assist in identifying possible hazards. There are also listings of state-certified contractors available from the local health department, who may do repairs. Repairs or alterations to the system must be approved by the health department and examined by an inspector. Keep an eye out for any meetings that may take place between a health department inspector and a contractor to discuss repairs to your system.

  • Household garbage that has not been properly handled is released into the environment when systems fail.
  • It has the potential to pollute surrounding wells, groundwater, streams, and other sources of potable water, among other things.
  • The foul odor emanating from a malfunctioning system can cause property values to plummet.
  • Briefly stated, broken systems can have an impact on your family, neighbors, community, and the environment.
  • Septic systems are an effective, attractive, and reasonably priced method of treating and disposing of wastewater.

Figures 2 and 3 reprinted with permission from: CIDWT. 2009. Installation of Wastewater Treatment Systems. Consortium of Institutes for Decentralized Wastewater Treatment. Iowa State University, Midwest Plan Service. Ames, IA.

History of the current status and revisions Published on the 15th of August, 2013. Published on March 28th, 2017 with a full review.

FAQs on Septic Systems

Continue to the main content Septic System Frequently Asked Questions

  • In order to establish what sort of septic installation is present on my land, where can I find information? Your County Health Department has records of the systems that have been approved, and you can request those information by initiating an investigation. A list of county offices in Maryland may be found by clicking here.
  • In order to establish what sort of septic system is installed on my property, where can I find information? It is possible to obtain a copy of the records of allowed systems from your county health department by performing an investigation. Maryland County offices may be found by clickinghere.
  • What exactly is a perc test, and why is it necessary to do one? Performing a percolation test (often referred to as a perc test) as part of an overall site evaluation is necessary to establish the permeability of soils and geology. The results of a perc test and site appraisal are used to identify limiting constraints in the soils and geology, such as groundwater levels, solidified material that prevents water from permeating, soil texture, structure and consistence, and other issues. Performing perc tests can assist in determining the most appropriate design for a drainfield that will be used as a component of the overall septic system.
  • What is the expected lifespan of my septic system before it has to be replaced? Septic systems are normally good for 20 to 30 years before they need to be replaced. Depending on whether the system has been improperly maintained, if surface or groundwater has been penetrated, whether tree roots have entered the system, and whether it has been unduly abused, this time limit may be reduced.
  • What symptoms should I look for in order to identify whether or not my septic tank needs replacing? Slow drains, surfacing effluent (wet spots in the yard or near the tank), sewage backing up into a bathtub or basement drain (usually on the lower level of the house), a sounding alarm (pump system or BAT), unexplained illness, or foul odors are all indications that your septic system is not performing as designed.
  • What is the recommended frequency of septic tank pumping? The frequency with which traditional septic tanks must be pumped is determined by the size of the tank and the number of people that live in the house. Special pumping techniques and frequencies are required for BAT devices, and the frequency varies depending on the unit — for further information, contact your BAT service provider or installation.
  • Where do the filters in a septic system reside, and who should be responsible for replacing them, the homeowners or a licensed contractor? There are not all septic tanks that have filters in them
  • Nevertheless, if your septic tank is one of those that does have filters, cleaning or replacement of these filters should be left to the professionals on a yearly basis at the very least.
  • What is the purpose of septic tank pumping? Is it possible for liquids to be discharged through the septic tank? Solids and FOG (fats, oils, and grease) collect in septic tanks, necessitating the need to pump the tanks out periodically. In the absence of regular pumping of septic tanks, sediments and foul-smelling gas (FOG) accumulate to the point where they are discharged into the drainfield, where they might cause blockage of the drainfield. This generally results in the need for an expensive system replacement, which is why it is critical to regularly pump your tank. Consider it similar to getting your car’s oil changed. In the event that you don’t replace the oil in your automobile, it will continue to function for a time, but it will eventually fail and leave you stranded.
  • Can you tell me how much it would cost to have your septic tank pumped? Septic tank pumping prices typically range between $250 and $400, depending on the size of the tank and its location.
  • When it comes to garbage, what types of waste will not breakdown in septic tanks? It is critical not to dispose of chemicals, paint, grease, food, or anything else that is not body waste, toilet paper, or wastewater from bathing, handwashing, dishwashing, or laundry in the trash.
  • I haven’t had my septic tank emptied in almost 15 years. What is the recommended frequency of septic tank pumping given the fact that I have been the only one residing in the residence? The size of the tank is dependent on its capacity. In the event that you haven’t pumped your tank in 15 years, you have almost likely waited too long and may have unwittingly caused harm to your drain field. You should pump your tank as quickly as possible to avoid causing more harm to your drain field. When your septic tank is being pumped, pay attention to what the pumper has to say regarding the condition of your tank. In the future, this will influence your decision on how often you will pump — it is suggested that you do not go more than 5 years between pump outs.
  • Is the usage of a garbage disposal harmful to the operation of a septic tank? Otherwise, are there any foods that should not be placed in a garbage disposal that you should be aware of? Absolutely. When a building is supplied by on-site sewage disposal, we do not recommend the use of garbage disposals. The ground-up food wastes are not properly broken down in the tank and may reach the drainfield, causing early blockage and failure.
  • What should consumers believe when it comes to the packaging of toilet paper and other items that claim to be suitable for septic systems? Even still, some in the business believe that toilet paper infused with lotions and aloe does not decompose as quickly as other types of toilet paper do. Water-soaked wipes, as well as other wipes of any sort, should not be flushed down the toilet (even if they are labeled as flushable).
  • Is it possible to use cleansers in the toilets on a regular basis, such as bleach? Many cleansers have the ability to destroy germs as one of their properties. If you flush these sorts of cleansers down the drain, you are effectively killing off the good bacteria in your septic system, which will make it less efficient in the long run. It is understood that the bathroom and kitchen in the home must be cleaned on a regular basis in order to maintain a healthy environment, and so only a limited amount of time is permitted. Flushing bacteria-killing cleaning agents through a system on a regular basis (daily) is not suggested.
  • Is it possible to use toilet cleansers on a regular basis, such as bleach? Numerous cleansers have the ability to eliminate germs as one of their characteristics. Using these sorts of detergents and dumping them down the drain, you are effectively killing off the good bacteria in your septic system, making it less effective. It is understood that the bathroom and kitchen in the home must be cleaned on a regular basis in order to maintain a healthy environment, and so only a limited amount of time is allowed. Flushing bacteria-killing cleaning agents through a system on a regular basis (daily) is NOT advised.
  • Extraction of existing tank
  • Crushing and filling of existing tank
  • Or removal of existing tank Installation of a BAT system (this does not include the cost of replacing the drainfield)
  • BAT has been in operation and maintenance for two years. All of the necessary permissions
  • Electrician and all electrical work (with the exception of the requirement to add a sub-panel, which is included). Final grading and seeding (does not include landscape restorations, such as, but not limited to, the removal of decks, patios, and fence, as well as the installation of new fencing)
  • Visit for follow-up
  • If you own a piece of land and are thinking of constructing a structure on it. Is it possible to use BRF for a new build? Using BRF funds to install BAT systems with new building is not out of the question, but it is the county’s lowest priority. It is only when there is more funds available after all higher priority applications have been funded that these low priority proposals can be funded. More information on the BRF program may be found by clickinghere. Remember that applications for BRF financing must be submitted to the respective county health departments.
  • If you own a piece of property and are thinking of constructing a structure on it, read on. Is it possible to employ BRF for a new construction project. The utilization of BRF funds to install BAT systems in new building is not out of the question
  • Nonetheless, it is the county’s lowest priority at this time. It is only when there is more funds available after all higher priority applications have been funded that these low priority proposals can be considered. More information about the BRF program may be found by clickinghere. It is important to note that applications for BRF financing are submitted to the County Health Departments.
  • Is it necessary to rebuild the drain field when a septic system is replaced with a new conventional system or BAT system in order to avoid a septic system backup? No, this is not always the case. The tank system and drain field are two separate components of your septic system, and either one can become damaged (and hence require repair) without affecting the operation of the other. Suppose you have to replace your tank because it cracked due to settling or water seepage
  • The new system could potentially be connected to your existing drain field
  • Or suppose you have to replace your tank because it cracked due to settling or water seepage
  • What types of plants should I put on my drainfield? Turfgrass, such as fescue, is commonly found growing over drainfields in most residential areas. Also suitable are grasses and shallow-rooted native plants (including flowers) that are not too tall. By absorbing both water and nutrients, the plants perform a valuable service for the environment. Trees, on the other hand, should not be planted since the roots of the trees might infiltrate the system and block the pipes, causing the system to collapse.
  • What can I do to ensure that my drainfield lasts as long as possible? Follow these recommendations for maintenance:
  • Conserve water by repairing leaks and installing water-saving appliances. Avoid using garbage disposals and dripping fats, oils, and grease down the drain. Water treatment backwash from a septic system should be diverted. Do not flush chemicals down the toilet or down the sink. Only toilet paper should be flushed – no wipes or other items. Ascertain that stormwater is directed away from the tank and drainfield. Keep traffic away from the drainfield. Planting trees near a tank or drainfield is not recommended. Have your tank pumped every 2-5 years — this is the typical method. BAT- depending on the service provider
  • Maintain the tank filter on a regular basis (if applicable)
  • Keep the BAT powered up and provide service as usual. Using a BAT unit, wastewater is cleaner (has less dissolved particles) than wastewater from a traditional system, allowing a drainfield to last longer.
  • Fix leaks and utilize water-saving gadgets to conserve water. Avoid using garbage disposals and dripping fats, oils, and grease from cooking pans and pans. Backwash water treatment from a septic system should be diverted. Do not flush chemicals down the toilet or down the sink
  • Only toilet paper should be flushed – no wipes, diapers, or anything else. Maintain a clear path for stormwater out from the tank and drainfield
  • Traffic must be kept away from the drainfield. Planting trees in close proximity to a tank or drainfield is not recommended. Maintain a typical tank pumping schedule every 2-5 years. According to the service provider, BAT is: Maintain frequent tank filter cleaning (if applicable). Keep the BAT powered up and provide service as usual. – Using a BAT unit, wastewater is cleaner (has less dissolved solids) than wastewater from a traditional system, extending the life of a drainfield.

Septic System Frequently Asked Questions

A septic system, sometimes known as a septic tank, is an underground system that processes the sewage that flows from your house before disposing of the treated, cleaner water. Septic systems are typically seen in residential areas. The treated water is subsequently re-introduced into the environment through filtration. This is critical because untreated sewage may harm nearby streams and water systems, as well as the soil around the perimeter of your septic system. Because your septic system is designed to cleanse and filter sewage, it is critical that it is in proper operating order.

What is a Drainfield?

The drainfield, also known as the leach field, is the area where the water from your septic system is sent after it has been cleansed and filtered. It is necessary to construct a drainfield in order to ensure that water is distributed uniformly back into the soil.

How do I find my septic system?

If you’re fortunate enough to have a contemporary septic system in your yard, it may be equipped with an access lid that is visible from the ground floor. If this is the situation at your residence, locating your septic system is as simple as taking a few steps into your backyard. It’s unfortunate that this isn’t true for older septic systems. It’s possible that you may locate an older system in your home by checking for greener, faster-growing grass or even an area with less growth than the rest of your yard if you live in an older home.

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This will show you exactly where your septic system is located in your yard, if you have one.

You’ll need to look for the location where your septic system’s sanitary line exits your home and follow that line until you find your septic tank, which will take some time.

If everything else fails, contact a septic installation company. If you are unable to discover your septic system, your yard may need to be dug up by a septic system installation in order to locate your septic tank as a last option.

How long do septic systems last?

Depending on whether you have a more recent septic system in your yard, it may have an access lid that is visible from the ground level. You may identify your septic system as soon as you go into your yard if this is the situation at your residence. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with earlier septic system designs. Even if you have an older system at your house, you may be able to locate it by checking for areas of greener and faster-growing grass, or even an area with less growth than the rest of your yard.

Your septic system will be visible in this diagram, which will help you locate it in your yard.

You’ll need to look for the location where your septic system’s sanitary line exits your home and follow that line until you find your septic tank, which will take some searching.

A septic system installer may be required to excavate your yard in order to discover your septic tank, as a last alternative, if you cannot identify your septic system.

What’s the advantage of installing a newer septic system rather than an older system?

Although it is not required to install a new system, there are advantages to having a modern septic tank rather than an older one. For starters, when you get a new septic tank, you can be confident that it will serve you for decades if it is properly maintained, and you will not have to worry about it being “too old.” Additionally, newer systems have been modified to reduce the likelihood of your system becoming clogged, and if something does go wrong with a new system or when it comes time to have your septic system pumped, a new system will likely be easier to locate because they are frequently constructed with ground-level lids.

New septic systems also provide a further treatment for your waste water, allowing it to be cleaner before it is released into the surrounding environment.

How much does a new septic system cost?

Installation of new septic systems may be a significant financial commitment, with costs typically reaching tens of thousands of dollars. Whenever you have to replace an outdated septic system, you should look into financing alternatives that will make it simpler for you to pay for a new septic system in the long run.

Purchase further information from a septic system installation business on how to obtain septic systems at the most competitive prices while also taking advantage of low-interest financing options.

How big is my septic tank?

Septic tank capacity is determined by the amount of water consumed in your property as well as local codes and requirements. Check with your local health agency to find out how big your tank is before installing it.

Why should my septic system be pumped out?

Without regular pumping, the gases emitted by human waste accumulate in your septic system, increasing the risk of septic tank damage and the need for more frequent pumping. The regular pumping of your septic system will allow you to limit the rate at which your tank deteriorates and save money in the process. It’s crucial to remember, though, that degeneration is unavoidable in the long run. It is only via regular maintenance, such as pumping your tank, that your septic system will survive longer.

Does my tank need to be dug up to know if it needs to be pumped?

Risers are commonly found in newer septic systems, which allow you to access your tank from the ground level through a lid. It is straightforward for any septic system professional to determine whether or not your yard has risers placed, and whether or not it is necessary to pump it. If, on the other hand, your tank cannot be accessible from the ground level, it will need to be dug up in order to determine whether it has to be drained. Instead of inspecting your septic system to see whether it needs to be pumped on a regular basis, set a timetable for having your system pumped every 2-3 years.

Why should I have risers and lids installed on my septic system?

As a result, when it comes time to find, pump, or repair your septic system, risers are the best choice since they provide ground-level access to your system. Having a septic system lid will allow you to mow your grass while still being able to find your system with no difficulty. Lids and risers also have the advantage of being accessible all year round, as opposed to earlier septic systems that could only be accessed by digging a trench through your yard. If your septic system has to be pumped or repaired for any reason during the winter months, getting beneath layers of frozen earth can be difficult, if not impossible, and you may be forced to wait until the spring to have access to your tank again.

How often should my septic system be pumped out?

A typical septic system contains a 1,500-gallon tank, which needs to be pumped around every 2-3 years for a household of four, according to industry standards. If you have less than four people living in your house, you will most likely be able to pump your septic system every five years rather than every three. You should speak with your local health agency to determine the exact size of your tank, and you should consult a septic system business to determine how frequently your tank should be pumped based on the size of your family and the size of your septic tank.

Do I need to have the septic tank pumped if I’m selling my house?

Consult with your local health department to learn about the restrictions that apply to your region of residence. Generally speaking, as long as your septic system has been pumped on a regular basis by a licensed septic system company and recently enough for the new homeowners to be able to live there for a year or two without having to pump the septic system, you should not be required to have it pumped again in the near future.

How do I find someone to pump my septic system?

It is important to be aware that not all septic system businesses are licensed and that not all firms properly dispose of or recycle the waste they pump from your septic system when you are looking for one to pump it. Finding a firm that complies with EPA standards should be your first concern, and then you should look at price, how pricing is split down, and which company is delivering the most honest, economical, and dependable service should be your next consideration. Investigate business evaluations, and when you select a septic system provider to pump your septic tank, be certain that they do the work properly, leaving enough water and waste to keep the sewage decomposing while leaving no visible trace more than a few inches of waste behind.

How much does it cost to have my septic system pumped?

It is important to be aware that not all septic system businesses are licensed and that not all firms properly dispose of or recycle the waste they pump from your septic system when they pump your septic system. Finding a firm that complies with EPA standards should be your first priority, and then you should look at price, how pricing is split down, and which company is delivering the most honest, economical, and dependable service should be your second priority. Investigate business evaluations, and when you select a septic system provider to pump your septic tank, be certain that they do the work properly, leaving enough water and waste to keep the sewage decomposing while leaving no visible trace other than a few inches behind.

What happens if I don’t have my septic system pumped?

The sediments will pile up in your septic tank if you don’t pump it out regularly, ultimately overflowing into the drain field and clogging the drain field. Backups can occur, causing damage to your property and even necessitating the replacement of your drain field, which can be a very expensive error.

I just had my septic system pumped. Why is it full already?

Septic systems are designed to refill rapidly since the purpose of pumping is not to remove water but rather to remove non-biodegradable waste, and the water itself is not the aim of pumping. Once your septic system has been pumped and you begin to use the water in your house, your tank will quickly refill in order to maintain good operation of the system. If the water level rises to a point where it is above the outlet line, contact your septic system service provider for assistance immediately.

What do you look for when inspecting my septic system?

When we do an inspection, we make certain that your septic system is in good operating condition and that it satisfies the standards for receiving a Certificate of Compliance. If you’re planning to sell your home, you should have your septic system checked out by a professional who is certified by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. This will allow you to sell your home faster and for more money, if you can prove that your system has been checked out by an accredited professional. The level of liquid in your septic tank will be checked, and we’ll make sure there is no surface-level discharge.

We’ll also note whether the level of solid waste in your septic tank indicates that it should be pumped, and whether any repairs are required to improve the overall functionality of the system.

The drains in my home aren’t draining as quickly as they normally do. Does this have to do with my septic system?

Drains that are clogged and that empty slowly are not necessarily a big source of concern. Before presuming that there is an issue with your septic system, check sure that there isn’t anything obstructing your drain first. In the case of one plumbing fixture in your house that is draining slowly, it is likely due to clogging; however, if all of the drains in your home are slow or leave waste backed up, it is probable that your septic system requires inspection and may even require pumping.

What happens when my septic system fails?

Symptoms of a failing septic system may include minor issues such as drain breaks or pipes that have been stopped, which can be caused by tree roots intersecting with the system. Septic system failure, on the other hand, might indicate that your septic tank has degraded to the point that it cannot be repaired and must be replaced. A blocked drainfield will hopefully not become your problem because it is the most expensive component of your system to replace; nevertheless, if it does, you must act quickly to make the necessary repairs or else your waste will continue to back up, perhaps causing damage to your property.

You’ll need to replace the drainfield as soon as possible to avoid further pollution of drinking water sources.

How do I prevent my septic system from failing? How can I properly maintain my septic system?

Your septic system should degrade at a normal rate over the course of several decades if you maintain it on a regular basis. Maintenance normally consists of getting your septic system pumped on a regular basis and making certain that you do not flush or wash anything down the drain that might block your septic system.

What shouldn’t I flush down the toilet?

As a general rule, only human waste and toilet paper should be flushed. There are several reasons why flushing medicine down the toilet is not a good idea. First, medication might kill some of the bacteria in your septic tank, which is necessary to break down solid waste. Second, drugs can pollute adjacent well water. In addition, you should avoid flushing feminine hygiene items, paper towels, tissues, hair, cat litter (even if it is flushable), diapers, wipes, condoms, cigarettes, and anything else that seems to be inorganic and shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet.

What shouldn’t I pour down the drain?

Grease from the kitchen, motor oil, anti-freeze, gasoline, paint, and food should not be flushed down the toilet or drain. You should avoid flushing anything down your drain other than soap and water, and you should especially avoid flushing any form of chemical down your drain that should not be recycled back into the environment, such as fertilizer.

Is using a garbage disposal bad for my septic system?

Using a trash disposal will result in the requirement to pump your septic system more frequently than you would otherwise need to do if you avoided flushing food particles down your drains.

Too much food collection in your tank might cause your drainfield to clog since the microorganisms in your tank are not capable to digesting it. When using a trash disposal, check with your septic system company to find out how frequently the disposal should be serviced.

Should I add bacteria to my septic system?

Aside from being completely useless, introducing bacteria to your septic tank is also highly discouraged. The bacteria produced by human waste is sufficient to break down the solid sewage in your tank without the need of bacteria supplements or other methods. If, on the other hand, multiple members of your home are using pharmaceuticals, they will enter your septic system through human waste and kill some of the beneficial bacteria in your tank, causing it to malfunction. Please contact the firm who installed your septic system to see whether or not you should be worried about the amount of bacteria-killing compounds entering the system.

There’s a strong sewer odor outside of my house. Could this be my septic tank?

In general, adding bacteria to your septic tank is a waste of time and money. The bacteria produced by human waste is sufficient to break down the solid sewage in your tank without the addition of bacteria additions to the tank. For example, if you have a large number of medicine users in your family, these pharmaceuticals will enter your septic system through human waste and kill some of the beneficial bacteria in your tank. Please contact the manufacturer of your septic system for information on whether or not you should be worried about the quantity of bacteria-killing compounds entering the system.

Can my septic system contaminate nearby water?

Overall, adding bacteria to your septic tank is a waste of time. The bacteria produced by human waste is sufficient to break down the solid sewage in your tank without the use of bacteria additions. If, on the other hand, multiple members of your home are taking drugs, they will enter your septic system through human waste and kill some of the beneficial bacteria in your tank. Contact your septic system firm to find out if you should be concerned about the quantity of bacteria-killing compounds entering your septic system.

My gutters’ downspouts drain into my yard above my septic system. Is this a bad thing?

The drainage of your gutters into your yard above your septic system, and particularly into your drainfield, can be hazardous to your septic system. All water should be diverted away from your septic system in order to minimize flooding and damage to your septic system’s tank or drain field.

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