The drain field plays an important role in ensuring that your septic system works properly. With proper installation and maintenance, a drain field can serve you for many years. However, at some point, you may suspect that something is amiss with your septic system but be unsure whether or not the drain field is failing.
Learn the basics of drain field failure, as well as some sure signs that your drain field needs to be repaired or replaced.
Basics of Drain Field Failure
The drain field is a series of pipes buried in an area in your home's yard. These pipes receive waste from the septic tank and release effluence into the soil.
A major cause of drain field failure is overcapacity. This happens when the septic tank releases too much water into the network of pipes, leaving the drain field saturated.
Each septic system is designed to handle a certain amount of wastewater, depending on the size of the household. Too much wastewater in the drain lines can lead to an accumulation of sludge inside the pipes. This sludge prevents water from seeping through the perforated drain field pipes down to the soil. The result is a constantly clogged and wet drain field and a septic system that will not manage wastewater properly.
Other things that can damage the drain field include grease, tree roots, and driving on the drain field.
Signs of Drain Field Failure
The following are common signs of a failing drain field.
The first telltale sign of drain field problems is a soggy patch in your yard. Because the drain field pipes are clogged or broken, wastewater coming from the septic tank does not flow deep down into the soil but instead remains at the top of the ground. The result is a visibly wet puddle with unusually green, dense, or long grass on top of it.
In addition to the wet surface, within a short time, a black, slimy substance may develop on the wet patch.
When wastewater accumulates and clogs the drain field, the aerobic bacteria that filter the wastewater in the septic system are deprived of oxygen and become anaerobic. An accumulation of anaerobic bacteria produces the black, sludge-like substance that is not only unsightly but also contributes to blocking the drain field pipes further, potentially resulting in costly repairs or replacement of the drain field.
Foul septic odors often accompany an oversaturated drain field. The septic smell occurs as a result of wastewater coming above ground instead of migrating into the soil below. If not addressed early, foul odors and a soggy yard covered in septic effluent can quickly become a health hazard for your family and neighbors.
In addition to looking outside, look inside the home for signs of a broken drain field. Some common drainage problems to look out for include:
- Plumbing noises: A backup in the drain field can cause blockages in the septic tank and in the connected plumbing fixtures. Gurgling noises are a sign of blocked drains.
- Slow drains: Watch out for toilets that will not flush properly, as well as sinks, bathtubs, and shower drainage fixtures that take an unusually long time to drain.
- Flooded basement: A badly damaged drain field can cause a major backup in the septic system, resulting in wastewater flowing into the basement. The cost of repairing water and mold damage in a basement can easily set you back thousands of dollars.
Regular maintenance of your septic system can help you detect, prevent, and fix drain field problems in time. If you are worried about a failing septic system or drain field, call the experts at Acme Environmental Services. We have the expertise, experience, and tools to repair your septic system.