SEPTIC SYSTEM DRAIN FIELD Restoration

Septic System drain field repair
Septic System Basics Septic Tank Drain Field Failure Hardpan Soil Restore Drainage

Restore Failed Drain Fields

On-site septic systems are not designed to last forever. Typically a system will last for 20 to 30 years, but with proper maintenance and attention many years may be added to the life expectancy.

When an onsite system fails it is important to diagnose the problem and determine the cause of the failure. All system components should be inspected by a qualified licensed septic service technician. Drain lines should be tested to ensure there are no failing or broken pipes or connections. Your septic professional may be able to use a video camera or other high tech method of looking in your pipes.

It is helpful to review the operation and maintenance of the system over the past five years. It may reveal a problem that can be fixed by a simple pump out.

Often pumpers will observe water from the field returning to the tank as they pump. This is a sign of soil failure that may be due to overuse or overload of organic materials. A septic tank should be pumped every

Another common but often unrecognized problem occurs when sodium in the wastewater bonds small particles of clay in the drainage soil to form hardpan; an impermeable layer that prevents water from reaching the absorption soil.

There are chemical solutions designed to break this sodium bond and restore drainage to the soil. Several brands are on the market but we think Septic Perc is the best choice. It can be purchased on line at www.septicperc.com.

The EPA defines septic system failure as "a condition where performance requirements are not met."
A failing system can pollute nearby water resources and endanger public health.

When the soil can no longer absorb effluent it will surface and be observed as a smelly puddle in the backyard, or where ever the drain field is located. When that puddle appears at the end of the field it is usually a sign that the whole field is failing.

Check for these possibilities:


PROBLEM: 1. Overuse:

a. A leaking toilet or faucet can overload a system. Even a small drip can, over time, ruin a system.

b. The addition of a bathroom, additional people in the household, washing too many loads of laundry, water softener discharges into household drain, all of these or a combination of these conditions can overload a drain field's designed capacity.

SOLUTION:

Repair all leaks. When you think you have repaired all leaks, turn off all faucets in the house. Check the reading on your water meter. Wait one hour and recheck your water meter. There should be no water use showing on the meter.

In the case of a recent remodel or bathroom addition you may have to add capacity to an underdesigned system by enlarging the drainage bed.


PROBLEM: 2. Misuse:

a. Disposing of cooking grease, chemicals, feminine hygiene products, coffee grinds, cigarette butts and overuse of garbage disposals can lead to contamination of the soil in the drain field.

SOLUTION:

If grease and organic solids are clogging the drainage pipes a professional septic maintenance company may be able to clear blockage and build up using a high pressure jetting machine designed for this purpose. The process can then be followed with an application of chemicals and a quality biological formula to ensure blockage is cleared from soil pores. See our web site www.septicperc.com for more information.


PROBLEM: 3. Physical Blockage:

a. Trees and shrubs growing on or near the drain field could clog the field with roots.
b. Broken pipes and fittings will stop the flow of effluent.

SOLUTION:

Roots can be cleared using chemical formulas commonly found in home supply stores. Roots and other blockages can be removed by mechanical means using a snake with a rooter type head.

A professional service company can inspect pipes, fitting, baffles and the D-box to insure they are intact.


PROBLEM: 4. Sodium Bonding:

a. This condition may be the least recognized common condition that can cause soil failure. Sodium bonding occurs when tiny particles of clay are exposed to sodium contained in wastewater or effluent. A chemical reaction takes place that bonds those small particles together to form hardpan, a soil condition that stops water from passing or being absorbed.

SOLUTION:

Since the 1950s products using lime sulfur as an ingredient have been recognized as a solution to the problem of sodium bonding in clay soil. Several products using calcium polysulfide have been used successfully by thousands of homeowners. Calcium polysulfide has a caustic Ph, around 11.5, and the strong odor of sulfur. A newer product which performs equally as well but with a neutral Ph and a mild pleasant odor is now available at our web site www.SepticPerc.com


PROBLEM: 5. Overgrown Bio mat:

a. The biological mat (bio mat) is a layer of living anaerobic (without oxygen) microbes that appear as a tar-like substance lining the sides and bottom of the absorption trenches. It is a necessary part of the living system where viruses and pathogens are removed from the effluent before it passes through to the surrounding soil and, eventually, to the water table.
Aerobic (oxygen using) bacteria live in the soil surrounding the drainage trench. These air-breathing colonies keep the anaerobic bio mat in check. When the soil floods the air-breathing colonies die off. Over time the bio mat will increase to a point where it forms an impervious layer and stops the flow of effluent to the surrounding soil.  

SOLUTION:

If grease and organic solids are clogging the drainage pipes a professional septic maintenance company may be able to clear blockage and build up using a high pressure jetting machine designed for this purpose. The process should be followed with an application of a high quality biological formula to ensure blockage is cleared from soil pores. See our web site www.septicperc.com/megabio.htm for more information.


There are many possible reasons for septic system failure. We cover the most obvious here but we recommend using a licensed professional septic maintenance company to inspect and repair your septic system.

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