One of the components of a septic tank system is the leach field. The leach field provides a filtration system for the wastewater that comes out of the septic tank.
As the wastewater flows through the leach field pipes, it empties into the gravel, sand, or soil surrounding the pipes. Solid wastes stay in the septic tank, stopped by a filter—bacteria in the leach field help to purify the wastewater.
Leach Field Issues
A leach field will fail when the amount of wastewater that enters the field, exceeds the amount of water that can evaporate or be absorbed. Covering vegetation like grass will help the water evaporate into the air.
The Root of the Problem
Most septic system problems begin with the leach field. Solid waste or wastewater can sometimes build up on the leach field bottom, causing a sludge. This sludge will plug up the leach field system preventing proper drainage. Sludge builds up when you are draining chemicals, paint, or grease-like substances that are difficult to filter.
Another issue with leach fields is the quantity of wastewater that needs to be processed. If you have a large family or expect many long-term visitors, or perhaps you host large parties on a regular basis, you should have your tank inspected to make sure it is the right size. Excessive rainfall or snow can also contribute to the amount of water processed in the leach field.
Keep Your Leach Field Healthy
Please don't drive over your leach field. Cars, trucks, or construction vehicles can damage the top layer of the leach field or crush the piping system. The soil around the leach field needs oxygen for proper drainage. If the soil becomes compacted due to vehicles parked on or around the leach field, the water will pool around the septic field.
Tree roots or shrub roots can also interfere with the pipes. Tree roots will grow towards a water source. So, if a tree or shrub is planted near the septic system, the roots will potentially damage the pipes by cracking or crushing them. The pipes can be rusty, cracked, or severely broken if your septic system is old.
Pump Your Septic Tank
Another cause of leach field issues is the lack of septic tank pumping. Make sure you have your tank pumped every two to three years, as this is the recommended frequency.
However, this does depend on the size of your family, if you have a garbage disposal, or water softener, how often you do laundry, and how many guests stay with you.
Contact a Specialist
If you notice problems developing like a slow draining sink or tub, toilets not flushing well, foul odors near your septic system, or greener than usual vegetation around the leach field, it may be time to call a leach field specialist. It is never a good idea to take matters into your own hands.