Septic Drain Field Repair – Symptoms and Tips

Septic drain field repair is one of the most daunting tasks associated with the system. While other problems to do with the plumbing can be fixed with relatively minor headaches, repairing the drain field can range from minor to very expensive repairs.

You might need repairs if…

  • You notice your plumbing system slow down, especially if it hasn’t rained in awhile.
  • You can smell odors or notice persistent wet patches in the yard.
  • The tank floods despite being pumped.

If you notice any of the above problems, then the culprit is almost certainly due to a blockage in your distribution pipes or soil. Repair can be necessary for several reasons; however, most problems occur when your tank becomes full of solid waste material. If not pumped, these solids can overflow and get out into the leach field. This is when problems begin, as these larger particles will cause the perforated pipes and the soil itself to become clogged up.

Another common problem is plant roots. Roots tend to grow toward the nutrient rich wastewater flowing out of the distribution pipes. These fragile, perforated pvc pipes can be easily crushed by the growth of roots; furthermore, these pipes are laid inside of hollow trenches so that effluent can flow onto a bed of gravel for filtration. Aggressive roots can break through the walls of the trenches and plug the perforations with soil. Finally, the effluent needs to be distributed evenly across the soil, and intruding roots can disrupt the grading of the distribution pipes or even the distribution box.

Unfortunately, septic drain field repair is not a task for amateurs. Unless you have experience with drainage systems, it’s necessary to call in some professional help. However, there are a number of steps you can take to prevent the damage becoming worse until such time as the system can be repaired.

  • The most important thing is to reduce the burden on the drainage system, to prevent the wastewater from backing up into your home. You should take steps to minimize water usage wherever possible, for example by taking shorter showers and only washing full machine loads. Check your pipes, faucets and other plumbing for drips, even a slow drip can add gallons to the system’s load.
  • Faucet aerators and low-flow toilets will also help reduce the likelihood of  flooding.
  • Also, try to put less solid waste into the system. Scraps of food that we normally wash down the kitchen sink should be thrown into the garbage instead.
  • Avoid flushing any non-biodegradable material down the toilet, including grease and oil.
  • Get a washing machine lint filter.
  • Another useful tip while waiting for the repair man to come is to mow the grass above the leach field. By keeping this trimmed, the sun will be able to penetrate the ground, thus helping to evaporate any water that rises to the surface of the soil.
  • One word of advice – don’t use any hard chemicals for septic drain field repair. While a bottle of caustic soda stands a good chance of removing whatever it is that’s causing the blockage, this will also kill off the bacteria in the drainage field, meaning that the wastewater from your home won’t be properly decontaminated before it soaks into the ground.

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