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5 Signs of a Failing Drainfield

The drainfield is an essential component of any septic system. It is responsible for filtering out contaminants from the wastewater that comes from your home before it is released back into the ground. When the drainfield begins to fail, it can lead to a host of issues that can be costly to repair. In this article, we'll discuss the top 5 signs of a failing drainfield so you can take action before it's too late.


Table of Contents


A failing drainfield being serviced

What is a Drainfield?

A drainfield, also known as a leach field, is a part of the septic system that removes impurities from the wastewater that comes from your home. The drainfield consists of a series of perforated pipes that are buried in gravel-filled trenches. As the wastewater flows through the pipes, it is filtered by the surrounding soil, which removes contaminants and pathogens.


How Does a Drainfield Work?

A drainfield works by allowing the wastewater to be released into the ground where it is naturally filtered by the soil. The perforated pipes in the drainfield distribute the wastewater evenly across the trench, which allows for maximum filtration. The soil around the pipes removes any impurities from the wastewater, including bacteria and viruses.


Common Causes of Drainfield Failure

There are several reasons why a drainfield can fail. Some of the most common causes of drainfield failure include:

  • Overuse of the septic system

  • Flushing non-biodegradable items down the toilet

  • Using too much water

  • Lack of maintenance

  • Damage to the pipes or tank


5 Signs of a Failing Drainfield

It's essential to recognize the signs of a failing drainfield so you can take action before it's too late. Here are the top 5 signs to look out for:


1. Slow Draining Fixtures

If you notice that you have a slow draining sink, shower, or toilet, it could be a sign that your drainfield is failing. As the drainfield becomes clogged, it can't filter the wastewater as efficiently, which leads to slow drainage.


2. Standing Water

Standing water in your yard or around the septic system is a clear sign of a failing drainfield. The wastewater is not being absorbed by the soil, which leads to pooling water. If left untreated, this can lead to a health hazard and damage to your property.


3. Foul Odors

Foul odors coming from your drains, toilets, or septic tank are a sign that something is wrong with your drainfield. The smell is caused by the buildup of gases in the pipes and tank, which can be dangerous to your health and wastewater system.


Lush vegetation caused by a failing drainfield

4. Lush Vegetation

If you notice that there is an area of your yard where the grass or vegetation is particularly lush, it could be a sign of a failing drainfield. The excess water and nutrients from the wastewater can cause the grass to grow faster and greener than the surrounding areas.


5. Sewage Backups

Sewage backups are a severe sign of a failing drainfield. If you notice sewage backing up into your home, it's essential to call a professional immediately. Sewage backups can cause serious health hazards and damage to your property.


Prevention Tips for a Healthy Drainfield

Prevention is the key to a healthy drainfield. Here are some tips to keep your drainfield in good working condition:

  • Regularly pump your septic tank to remove solids and prevent clogs.

  • Avoid flushing non-biodegradable items down the toilet, such as diapers, wipes, and feminine hygiene products.

  • Conserve water by fixing leaks, using low-flow fixtures, and only running full loads of laundry and dishes.

  • Don't park vehicles or heavy equipment on or near the drainfield.

  • Keep trees and shrubs at least 30 feet away from the drainfield to prevent root intrusion.

When to Call a Professional

If you notice any of the signs of a failing drainfield, it's essential to call a professional immediately. A septic system professional can diagnose the problem and recommend the best course of action. Ignoring the problem can lead to serious health hazards and expensive repairs.


Conclusion

The drainfield is a critical component of your septic system, and recognizing the signs of a failing drainfield is essential for maintaining a healthy system. By taking preventative measures and calling a professional when necessary, you can avoid costly repairs and ensure the safety of your home and family.


FAQs


How often should I pump my septic tank?

It's recommended to pump your septic tank every 3-5 years, depending on the size of your tank, the number of people and how much water is used in your household.


Can I use chemical drain cleaners with a septic system?

No, chemical drain cleaners can harm the bacteria in your septic system and cause clogs.


How can I tell if my drainfield is failing?

Look out for signs such as slow draining fixtures, standing water, foul odors, lush vegetation, and sewage backups.


How can I prevent drainfield failure?

Regularly pump your septic tank, avoid flushing non-biodegradable items down the toilet, conserve water, and keep heavy equipment and trees away from the drainfield.


What should I do if I suspect a failing drainfield?

Call a professional immediately to diagnose the problem and recommend the best course of action.

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