Why Do Septic Drainfields Fail?

  • Clogging with solids: When a tank has not been pumped periodically, it fills up and eventually the solids migrate out of the tank into the drainfield. Also, old drainfields can be clogged by soil infiltration. Either the perforated distribution pipe or the pores in the soil become clogged.
  • Root blockage: Root growth near a septic system is a mixed blessing. The good news is that plant growth over a drainfield will absorb much of the discharge; further, in arid areas, evapotranspiration will release the water back into the environment. The down side is that the same root growth that absorbs water can clog disposal lines and trenches and hinder drainfield function (although root blockage is not the same problem in a shallow drainfield).
  • Root-deterrent products: Kill roots, but are not recommended.  Most of these products contain copper sulfate, or “bluestone,” which can kill off the beneficial organisms in both the tank and the drainfield, and pollute the water table.
  • High groundwater: When a drainfield is saturated with groundwater, it does not perform its cleansing action. LeachLife and LeachLife Plus will correct this situation.

Do you think your septic system has failed?

Has water backed up into the shower? Do the toilets refuse to flush?  Have the drains stop draining? Is there a foul smell in your house or yard?  Is the soil over the leachfield soggy?  Has the plumbing become sluggish over a period of time, when used heavily, or during wet months?  Are the problems persistent even though the tank has been pumped recently?  Is the septic tank flooded?

One or more of these are signs of a failed leachfield due to poor water infiltration.

This is the most serious and costly type of failure.  Pipe blockages can be removed, loose connections can be fixed, and a faulty tank can usually be repaired.  But, replacing the whole drainfield is very expensive.  LeachLife and LeachLife Plus will help solve these problems.

Dave Dungy