How Can I Repair My Failing Drainfield?
Drainfields typically fail because too much wastewater has been flushed into them, keeping them constantly saturated. When too much water sits in the drain lines constantly, a bacterial mat forms along the trench walls. This slimy mat doesn’t allow water to seep through it, and therefore the trenches no longer can handle the wastewater. A properly designed septic system is designed to handle a specific amount of wastewater. This is determined by how many people are in the house. Number of people are calculated by the number of bedrooms – figuring two people per bedroom. If a household overloads a system, i.e. uses way too much water each day, the drain lines never have time to dry out.
Signs of this are drains gurgling, draining slowly, water coming up through the lower house level floor drains, and wet spots in the yard. Usually these problems are most noticeable when you use a lot of water, like on laundry day. That’s why it’s imperative that you space your laundry loads and conserve water! Short showers, never leaving water run down a drain while washing dishes, full wash loads only (or adjusting the water level for a small load), and never doing back to back loads of laundry will all help conserve water, and therefore the amount of wastewater going into the system.
In the septic tank, only about 50 percent of solids are broken down by bacteria, the rest accumulate in the bottom of the tank until they are pumped out. Having too many solids accumulated, and too much water entering the tank at once (like doing several loads of laundry in one morning), can cause the solids to be flushed out into the drainfield where it can clog it.
Unfortunately, there is not a quick, easy fix for a failed drainfield. Short of there simply being a clog in the system that can be routed out, the bacterial mat that is typically the problem, cannot be destroyed other than allowing the trench to completely dry out for a few months. This would require a new trench system be put in its place. So rarely is there a fix other than a new drainfield being installed.
How Deep Is My Septic Tank? How Far From The House?
EVERY septic system is different! How deep a tank is, how far from the house, etc. depends on the layout of the yard, the house, the soils, the slope, and on and on. For specific information about your septic system, you must contact your local county Health Department (or, depending on where you live, whatever agency handles septic systems).
How does a septic system work?
A septic system is made up of two parts, the septic tank & a leach field. Waste material from the house enters the septic tank slowly so that the solids can settle to the bottom and form a sludge layer or raise to the top and form a scum layer. In between these two layers is a liquid waste center that over time slowly flows out into the tile field, through the gravel filled trenches and into the soil below. The soil acts as the final filter in the treatment of waste.
How Close Can I Plant Trees?
The rule of thumb is that a tree’s roots are as wide as the tree’s canopy (branch spread). But this doesn’t account for all species of trees, or the depth of the roots. When it comes to a septic system, it is best to only have grass planted above and around the system. Shallow rooted plants (ask your local Cooperative Extension expert or the Nursery employees), small shrubs, and flowers usually can be safely planted near and above the system. But trees really should be avoided. A weeping willow tree, or other species that really have a massive root system should NEVER be planted ANYWHERE near a septic system!
Should I Use a Chemical To Remove Tree Roots?
NO! You must always keep in mind whatever chemical you flush down your drains or put into your septic tank, you are DIRECTLY POURING INTO YOUR DRINKING WATER!! Your septic system dumps it’s wastewater, and all the chemicals you have flushed into it, directly into ground water. This is the water you drink! And if you have a well in your yard for your drinking water (which most people on septic systems do), you are pouring chemicals into that well. The offending trees should be removed, along with mechanical removal of the roots.
What is grading?
Grading is the preparation of soil and dirt levels in your lot for construction. One of the main reasons to have your lot graded is if you plan to build on uneven ground. You may need to use fill dirt to level the area in preparation for construction. Another reason is to ensure proper drainage. Grading your lot will guarantee that water will flow away from construction and not enter other properties.
How can I control erosion?
There are multiple ways to accomplish this. One way is to plan construction activities during summer and fall so that erosion control measures can be in place when the rain comes. Another way is to make sure that you examine your site carefully before building, paying close attention to slope, drainage patterns and soil types. One final way is to preserve existing vegetation as much as possible by limiting grading and plant removal to the areas under current construction.
What Kind of Toilet Paper Should I Use?
There are not many toilet papers on the market, if any, that can’t safely be used in a septic system. Toilet paper breaks down very easily and quickly, and that’s the important part. However, facial tissue (Kleenex) and paper towels do NOT break down easily, and should never be flushed down a toilet.