Septic Drain Field – What to Know

Determining if you have a septic drain field problem can be a tough thing to do. Educate yourself on your septic system parts and how a septic tank works before you try to come up with a septic remedy.

Septic drain fields, also called leach fields are subsurface wastewater disposal facilities used to remove contaminants and impurities from the liquid that emerges after natural anaerobic digestion in a septic tank. A septic tank, the septic drain field, and the associated piping compose a septic system. The septic drain field is effective for disposal of organic materials broken down by a microbial ecosystem. The drain field typically consists of an arrangement of trenches containing perforated pipes and porous material (often gravel) covered by a layer of soil to prevent animals (and surface runoff) from reaching the wastewater distributed within those trenches. Pictured here is a Pro Rooter and Septic septic system installation and the beginning of the drain field.

When the drainfield fails or is saturated with water, sewage may backup into the home. Wet, soggy areas may develop above or near the drainfield and you may see spongy bright green grass over the area. There may also be odors near the tank or drainfield. This could be the end of life for this component of your septic system. It may be that the system was operated inappropriately and too much solid material made it to the drainfield causing it to fail prematurely. Or, maybe the system worked for many years and simply has no more capacity to accept waste. However, if too much water has saturated the drainfield (through large amounts of water going down the drain or through flood water on the drainfield), it’s possible that the drainfield can be dried out and rehabilitated.

Contact a service professional to assess the situation. If the drainfield has failed, a connection to the public sewer system should be considered, if it’s a possibility. Otherwise, a replacement drainfield will need to be installed. The septic drain field is the most expensive component of the septic tank drainage system, and is the highest septic system cost during septic tank construction. The septic drain field also has the biggest influence on the septic system life expectancy.