You may be asking yourself, “Do I REALLY have to think about this??” Well, at some point you do — if you have a septic system that is. Septic systems need very little attention, they are out of sight, and they’re odorless, as long as they are maintained. OK, but what about a leach field?
To understand leach fields, you have to know a little about the parts of septic systems and how they work, so let’s start there.
- It starts inside the house. Everything that goes down a drain, including toilets, sinks, and bathtubs, flows into the septic tank. This is called wastewater and includes both solids and liquids.
- The “septic tank” actually has 2 tanks. Once wastewater is in the tank, bacteria and enzymes get to work breaking down solids, fats, and grease. In the 1st tank, heavier solids settle to the bottom and liquids rise to the top and flow into the 2nd tank where the process is repeated. The liquid from the 2nd tank is pushed out and into the final stage of the process.
- The final step is the Leach Field – also called leach lines, drain field, or percolation bed. Partially cleaned wastewater, or effluent, leaves the 2nd tank and flows through a series of perforated drain lines. These lines are buried 1 ½ to 3 feet deep in a large flat area of the yard. Final cleaning takes place as the water filters through sand and soil. A well maintained, properly functioning leach field is silent and odorless.
Do leach lines ever need to be replaced?
Yes. Eventually, leach lines will need to be replaced. However, leach lines are made out of very durable materials and have a long lifespan. Usually lasting around 15 to 25 years. Sometimes even longer with proper maintenance.
How do I know if something is wrong?
A leach field that is working well is silent, invisible, and odorless. If you start to remember that you have a septic system you likely have a problem.
These are some signs that there is a problem with your septic system:
- Slow running pipes or drains
- Mushy or wet areas over the leach field
- Gurgling pipes when you turn on faucets
- Foul, sewage odors inside or outside the house
- Toilets not flushing well
These signs mean something is wrong and you should call the professionals to fix the problem before it gets worse.
How do I maintain my septic system?
Here are some helpful tips to keep your system functioning well – think, odorless and silent!
- Be careful with what goes down your drains
- Avoid grease and oils. These will clog the pipes and can cause backup into the house…No, Thank You!
- Limit strong chemicals and cleaning products. These can kill the bacteria in the septic tank and prevent the breakdown of solid waste.
- Don’t flush anything down toilets except toilet paper and “bodily waste.” This includes wipes that are “flushable.” These types of products are very hard on septic systems and often never fully decompose. Ultimately, this can also clog your system, resulting in backup and expensive repair bills.
- Limit use of garbage disposals. Again, this adds more solids into the tank. Remember, those little bacteria are the only things breaking down all that waste.
- Don’t park cars on or drive over the leach field. The extra weight can compress and damage the leach lines.
- Have your septic tank pumped every 3-5 years.
Most homeowners don’t really want to concern themselves with monitoring how well their septic system is functioning. It’s not the most exciting thing to think about after all. But that is where we come in. We can maintain your system for you. Help you come up with a maintenance plan and schedule, so you don’t have to worry about it. With a consistent maintenance schedule not only will your system last longer, but we can also alert you to any problems that are developing. This allows for smaller, cheaper repairs and gives you time to prepare for any larger expenses down the line.