Leaching field problems and their causes

You may already know how your septic system works. It is a miniature treatment plant that gets the wastewater from your home and filters out the harmful substances in it before depositing it back to the surrounding environment. Conventional septic systems have a leach field, which is the area of your yard that takes the semi-treated wastewater from your septic tank through perforated pipes. The leaching field is also responsible for eliminating the pathogens from the wastewater so that it would be safe to use again once it returns to the groundwater.

But just like any other component, the leaching field develops problems. Some symptoms that your leach field is failing are odors from the field and sewage leaking from the septic system. When the leaks come from the area of your leach field, it becomes all too obvious. The following are the predicaments of the leaching field and their probable causes:

1. Water overload

Based on the design of your septic system, only a certain amount of water can be accommodated by your leach field at any given time. Any excess water that reaches it will result in flooding. To avoid leach field flooding, it is recommended that you route grey water to a separate system, like a drywell. You should minimize the wastewater flow from your home by taking care of leaks and installing high efficiency toilets and showerheads. Make sure that rain runoff is diverted away from your leach field.

2. Clogging

Your septic system is designed to treat a certain amount of solid waste from your home. When you dump too much solid waste into the system, the septic tank and leach field will develop blockages. This will inevitably lead to septic failure.  Homeowners are advised to reduce the solid wastes that flow from the garbage disposal, toilet and sink. You are also advised not to use the drains or toilets to get rid of feminine hygiene products, dental floss, diapers, condoms, and wet wipes.

3. Physical damage

Physical or mechanical damage in the leach field can stop it from working efficiently. This can even lead to septic system failure and flooding! As a homeowner, you should remember not to let vehicles drive over your leaching field. This tends to disturb the pipe layout and the compaction of the soil. In effect, the absorption ability of the leaching field is greatly reduced. Also take note that large, woody roots damage or clog the pipes in your leach field. If you already have woody plants or trees planted on your leach field, replant them in another area of your property.

If your leach field is not properly constructed or installed or if it’s situated where the soil has poor percolation, problems will definitely occur. But if the septic and leaching field systems are both installed and constructed right, the problem may result from poor care and maintenance.

There have been many, many cases where the leaching field has already failed and is beyond repair. The failure may not even show symptoms until the very instance of total cessation. The repair of your leach field will take so much of your money and time. As with many cases, prevention is much easier to do. You can do this by sticking to the maintenance schedule of your septic system. There should also be a reserve area for another leach field if the current leach field already needs replacement.

The responsibility of taking care of your septic and leach field systems lies in your hands as the homeowner. Taking care of a household goes beyond the surface. Most of the time, you should also pay attention to what you don’t usually see everyday, much like your leach field system.