What to Know About Repairing a Septic Drain Field
Did you know that roughly one in every five homes in the United States relies on a septic tank system? Yet, very few of these homeowners are 100% sure about how the systems even work. This can lead to a lot of confusion if there are problems with the system, and particularly if septic drain field repair is an issue.
Septic System 101
Different from a municipal system, a septic system usually deals with one home at a time. It is made of some simple components that include the:
- Tank – This is where everything that goes down a drain or is flushed down the toilet ends up.
- Drain field – This goes by many names, including the leach field, septic drain field and septic leach field, as well. This is where the water from the tank eventually disperses via the drain lines.
When material enters the tank, it separates into solids (sinking to the bottom of the tank), oils that rise to the top of the fluid in the tank, and water that sits between the layers. It is the water that exits the tank through the drain lines. These drain or leach lines are usually set around one to three feet beneath the soil (and usually in gravel beds). As the water runs out of the drain lines, more like a trickle really, it reacts with the soil and the natural microbes, resulting in clean water safe for the environment.
The wastewater that leaves your septic system from the leach field is often as clean as, if not cleaner than, the water from most city systems. The material that remains in the tank is typically removed by a septic pumping company every few years and disposed of properly.
Basic septic system care does not often require that you give a lot of attention to the drain field. While you do want to avoid planting trees and shrubs above the drain lines, as they can damage them, or parking heavy equipment on the field and compacting the soil, there is little else required if the system is installed and running properly.
A well-made system can last around 30 years, or more, without issues. Yet, just as almost anything else in a home can have problems, the septic system can, too. And one of the more common issues is seen in the drain field.
When You Have Trouble with the Septic System
Often, one of the first indicators of a problem with the septic drain field or the drain lines is slow drains. In other words, your bathtub, shower or washing machine might suddenly start to drain at a pace that just isn’t acceptable. Toilets often make loud gurgling sounds after being flushed, too, and you may have to flush several times to get waste to exit the toilet.
While pumping the tank could be the answer, it may not be an effective repair if the drain field is suffering from sort of problem. The other indicators that there are problems in the leach field include:
- The ground in the area of the leach field or drain lines is soft and has a muddy or wet texture
- Water or fluid appears above the area in which the septic tank is buried
- You get the distinct odor of septic or sewer in one or more areas of the yard
Often, any failures in a septic system cannot often be blamed on a “typical” cause. For example, one of the drain lines might be clogged or broken. The tank itself may have problems, or the leach field may be suffering from clogs, soil compaction, or issues with the soil used in the septic drain field itself.
There are many possible causes for septic issues, and your first step in repairing a septic is to have a proper authority give it a thorough inspection. They can look at the problems and help to determine just why those particular symptoms are occurring.
However, you must be careful of any septic repair contractor who immediately leaps to the conclusion that you must do a full-blown replacement of the tank, drain lines or drain fields. This is because it is a very costly process and may not be the best solution.
If your septic is in a flat area that can be readily and easily accessed by machinery, it is going to be between $5k and $8k to do a replacement. And that does not even take into consideration the need to have a permit and official approval on the new system. Nor, does that estimate look at systems in less ideal settings or that might be difficult to remove and replace effectively.
That means you want a repair company that comes out and really assesses what is causing the problem. The most trusted repair and replacement services will provide:
- Inspections and evaluations of problems
- Written estimates that explain the situation and all costs, including any alternative solutions available
- Excavation and septic tank replacement
- New drain line installations
- Drain field solutions such as excavating and adding new soil or relocating the leach fields altogether
However, you can also consider companies that offer solution via Terralift. This is an innovative way of repairing a septic drain field that is failing due to compacted soil or soil that is inappropriate for a drain field or leach lines. When soil blocks the drain lines or prevents water from easily leaching out into the soil, it causes the backing up that eventually reaches the house drain lines.
Terralift is a machine that actually pumps air pockets deep into the compacted soil. This opens up new areas for water to dissipate. It does not rely entirely on air alone and also blasts polystyrene beads into the fissures, creating the ultimate medium for optimal draining well into the future. Typically, this allows the water to drain almost immediately into the leach fields and for proper water treatment to begin again.
Repairing a septic drain field can involve a long list of potential remedies. Rejuvenation of a drain field may be a simple and effective answer. However, it is always best to work with experienced professionals offering septic system repair, septic tank repair and septic system installation as well as drain line and drain field repair, drain field addition and relocating. If they also offer Terralift and drain field rejuvenation and restoration, you are sure to find the ideal solutions to your needs. At Lentz Wastewater Management, Inc., you can work with a family owned and operated firm with decades of experience in the industry and a sterling reputation for installations and repairs.