When your septic system shows signs of trouble, you may worry your tank is too full or cracked. However, the problem could be in the drainfield. Since the drainfield is out of sight and usually needs no service, it's easy to forget it needs proper care and possibly even repairs. Here's how a drainfield can be damaged and some repair options you may want to discuss with your contractor.
The Drainfield Consists Of Underground Pipes
A drainfield is on the far side of your septic tank. When waste leaves your house, it goes in the tank first so fats and solids can filter out. Water then flows out of the tank and into the drainfield through pipes buried in the soil. For a drainfield to work properly, the soil has to be loose so water can filter through it, and the holes in the pipes that allow drainage have to stay clear.
Excess Water Use Can Cause Drainfield Damage
Your drainfield can be damaged if you drive over it and compact the soil or break a pipe. Tree roots can also invade the pipes or soil and cause problems with the drainfield. The field and pipes can also be damaged if sludge or fats from the tank pass through because you didn't pump the tank in time.
However, a common reason for drainfield failure is using too much water in your home. When you use a lot of water, water flushes through the tank too fast and the pipes in the drainfield stay saturated rather than drying out quickly. Dampness in the pipes allows a biofilm to grow that clogs the holes and prevents the proper drainage and filtering of the wastewater.
Septic Drainfield Repair Options
It's often necessary to replace the drainfield when there are problems, but since that's costly, you may want to consider repair options first. If the problem is compacted soil or tree roots, it might be possible to flush the roots out of the pipes with a hydro jet. If roots are in the soil or the soil is compacted, the contractor might try fracturing the soil with tools that break the soil up so air pockets form.
A biomat might be removed using a hydro jet and vacuum. The water jet breaks up the mat, and the vacuum pulls out the debris. Strict water conservation might also help reduce a biomat and allow the drainfield to recover. Not using the septic system for a period of weeks or months might allow the field to repair itself, but that isn't practical when you need to live in the house, too.
Your contractor might want to try additives to help the drainfield recover. Some additives destroy tree roots, and others eat away at the biofilm. In the case of a broken pipe, the old pipe may have to be dug up and replaced. The drainfield repair option you decide on depends on the type of damage the drainfield has sustained and your budget.
You may need temporary repairs until you can afford to put in a new system, or the repairs could be a permanent fix. However, you can't postpone repairs since a bad drainfield can allow waste to back up in your yard or your home and create unsafe conditions for your family and pets.
To learn more, contact a septic tank drainfield repair company.