One of the parts of the septic system that clients often know the least about is their drain field. This part of the septic system distributes all of the wastewater or effluent from the septic tank. If you have a septic system, it will help to understand what drain fields are, how they can be damaged, and when it’s time to call Atlanta’s own Septic Masters, LLC for septic system repair or, more specifically, drain field repair.
What Does the Drain Field Do?
When liquids are drained into the septic tank, they divide. Heavy liquids such as oils and grease sink below the plain water. This water doesn’t need to remain in the septic tank since it is fairly clean. Water used in cooking, showering, and even most of the water flushed down the toilet is free of harmful contaminants. Once the heavy contaminants settle below the water, this effluent can exit the septic tank through small pipes that connect it to the drain field. There, the soil filters out the remaining contaminants, and the water is used by the plants and grass growing above the field for nutrients.
When your drain field no longer functions correctly, it can lead to flooding, drain backups, and more. Repairing your drain field can also be an expensive and disruptive process. We do everything we can to minimize this disruption and cost, but most drain field repairs do require a good amount of work because the pipes are buried. However, if you understand the signs of damage and we can get into your drain field while the problems are still fairly minor, you can save a good amount of money. Here are some of the most common issues with a drain field.
Signs Your Drain Field Needs Repairs
Here are some of the most common drain field issues. When you notice any of these problems, contact Septic Masters right away.
If your pipes are backing up into your home, there are a number of issues that could be wrong with your septic system. If the backup is a dark color and has a very bad odor with it, chances are it’s the drain field.
If you notice a strong smell of sewage in the area of your drain field or if there is standing water in the area and it hasn’t rained recently, it’s a sign that the drain field is overworked or is failing. Also look around the area for patches of grass that are discolored.
Finally, if you need more frequent septic tank pumping, it can indicate that there’s an issue with the drain field. Normally, a septic tank needs pumped every three to five years, depending on the tank size and how many people are living in the home. We will inspect the tank each time we pump it, including checking for drain field issues. We also keep records on when your septic tank was pumped. If we see that your tank is needing pumped more often than necessary, we will talk to you about it and inspect the drain field more closely.
There are some specific issues within the septic tank that indicate drain field problems, too. These are often the issues we look for when diagnosing a drain field problem. One of the things we will look for is where the floating liquid and scum are. If they’re above the tanks baffles or if the liquid effluent is higher than the tank’s distribution box outlet, there’s a problem with the drain field.
How We Repair the Drain Field
Repairing your drain field can be done in a few different ways depending on what the issue is. We may need to pump your tank before we can do a complete inspection. We may also need to expose the drain field pipes for inspection and repair. This will allow us to discover if the drain field pipes are clogged or damaged in some way. For example, if you have large trees near the drain field, the roots may have entangled themselves in the pipes. Pipes could have become clogged with too much solid waste if your tank hasn’t been pumped recently.
While many drain field problems can be repaired, it’s also possible for your drain field to fail. When this occurs, you’ll find sewage backing up into your home, standing water around the drain field, and grass that is brightly colored and growing quickly. All of this indicates that the soil cannot handle the amount of solid waste that is flowing into it. That means your drain field has failed.
The only thing that can be done with drain field failure is to create a second field. The septic tank will divert all wastewater to this second field while the first one dries out. Often, it takes several years for the soil to fully absorb the large amount of waste in it.
Building a second drain field is one of the most expensive septic tank repairs, but there’s often no other option. The good news is that once you have installed a second drain field, you never need to build a third. If the second field fails, we can simply switch the tank back to the first one. When you call us out to inspect the field, one of the first things we will do is check to see if there’s another drain field already built.
What Can You Do to Prevent Drain Field Problems?
With some preventative maintenance, you can minimize drain field problems. First, if you’ve just bought the property, call us out for an inspection. We will check over your entire septic system to make certain everything is working as it should be.
Next, talk to us about regular septic tank inspections and pumping. We will help you determine when you need to have the tank pumped and set up a schedule. If you’ve lived in the home for more than three years and haven’t had the tank pumped, you may need to have that done. Don’t wait for the septic tank to back up—no one wants to deal with that. Contact Septic Masters today to arrange an inspection.