What Are Leach Lines
Leach lines go by many names: leach field, leach bed, filter bed, or percolation bed. Leach lines disperse septic effluent into the ground after passing through the septic tank.
To broadcast the effluent over the widest possible area, leach pipes fan out across an open area, usually a backyard. After leaving the septic tank, the effluent passes into the leach pipes, trickles out of holes in the pipes, then percolates downward through gravel and sand, then into the soil.
When To Call A Professional
Since a septic drain field failure can go from problematic to disastrous very quickly, you will want to call a septic expert anytime you think you might have a septic system issue. You want a professional who has experience in diagnosing and repairing septic systems to help you protect this crucial investment. Correcting the problem before the drain field fails can prolong the life of the entire system. Be sure to also inquire about ongoing maintenance to avoid future problems.
How A Septic System Works
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How To Replace Leach Lines
As with most projects and issues involving septic tanks, it’s best to call a professional to handle replacing leach lines.
How To Prolong Your Septic System Life
With proper care and maintenance, your septic system will serve you well for years. Most septic system owners ruin their systems just because of the use of products that harm their systems. The average septic tank has over 100 traceable pollutants which come directly from household products. These pollutants significantly reduce the bacteria population in the septic tank. The depletion of the bacteria pollution means organic waste will not be broken down adequately and this can cause blockages in the drain field thereby leading to a failure of the entire system. The best way to take care of your system is to ensure you avoid using products that are not septic-friendly. Here is a free eBook that has a comprehensive list of all the products that could be harming your septic system.
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How Much Does A Septic Tank Cost
Most septic tanks cost anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000. But some types of septic tanks can cost as much as $10,000 to $20,000 dollars.
The price can depend on the material costs. A concrete septic tank is cheaper, for example, but can crack. Fiberglass septic systems can be a little pricier than concrete tanks, but wont crack or expand. Plastic septic tanks are also an affordable option and are durable. Many local building codes do not allow steel septic systems, no matter how well they are made of, these can eventually rust, corrode, and collapse.
Signs Of An Aging Septic System
Diamonds are forever, but septic systems are not. Its true that with proper care and maintenance a waste water system will last many years. However, any septic tank buried in the ground will eventually deteriorate. There are many factors that decide how fast a tank will deteriorate such as construction material, environmental factors, and the level of care it is given.
The life expectancy of a steel tank is shorter than a concrete one. Inspectapedia estimates that a steel tank baffles will rust out in 15 to 20 years and may collapse if driven over, but a concrete tank will last 40 years or more as long as the wastewater is not acidic. Its important to consider the life expectancy of a drain-field, too. Under normal conditions and good care, a leach-field will last for 50 years or more.
Concrete septic tanks are sturdy and reliable but not indestructible. The biggest risk is exposing the concrete to acidic substances. Bacteria breaking down solid waste produces hydrogen sulfide gas. When hydrogen sulfide mixes with water vapors, such as the ones youd find in a wastewater tank, it turns into sulfuric acid and eats away at the concrete. Keeping vents open and clear of debris will decrease the risk of sulfuric acid formation.
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Why Does My Septic Tank Alarm Go Off
Your septic tank alarm will go off when theres an issue with your septic tank. Normally this is when the float gets stuck in the tank and doesnt pump out the greywater to the drain field. This can cause the level in the tank to rise, causing it to flow back in towards the house. This is normally when the alarm gets triggered.
If it keeps going off, then there might be a leak in the system that youll need to get fixed by a professional.
How Large Does The Drain Field Have To Be
To know what size drain field that you need , it can depend on the aforementioned soil absorption or soil percolation rate. Lots that have an excellent percolation rate is around one inch in three minutes. This would require around 450 square feet of drain field for an average three-bedroom home.
Take that same home, but it has a poor rate of soil percolation call it an hour per inch. In this instance, you would need about 900 square feet for the drain field. This is meant to combat the poor drainage in that soil.
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Leach Field Maintenance: Common Issues & Best Practices
While many homeowners understand how their septic tank works, they may not be familiar with the leach field, an integral part of the septic system. The leach field, also known as the drain field, is the underground area on your property where your leach field pipes filter the wastewater from the tank into the soil. The wastewater sinks into the soil, where it is broken down by natural bacteria.
Most septic system failures are caused by issues with the leach field. The system relies on the leach field to filter and disperse waste. When wastewater or solid waste builds up on the soil at the bottom of the leach field, the soil plugs up and prevents proper drainage. Common causes of leach field malfunction include:
- Draining chemicals, grease, paint, and other complex substances down drains
- Excessive water use in the house and leaking toilets and drains
- Damage from construction or vehicles on top of the field
- Water runoff from excessive rainfall or snow
- Tree and plant roots that interfere with pipes
Additionally, one of the main causes of leach field malfunction or failure is not having your septic tank pumped on a regular basis to remove sludge. On average, a septic tank should be pumped every 2-3 years, but exact timing depends on the size of the tank and your household size. Click here to learn more about how often your septic tank should be pumped.
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Technical Reviewers & References
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Why Do Leach Fields Fail
There are many reasons that your leach field can fail, but the most common reason is improper maintenance. Another common reason is when too much water overloads the tank.
They can also become overwhelmed if you have a garbage disposal with your system. Frequently using a garbage disposal means youll need to have your tank pumped more frequently.
Why Do Septic Systems Fail
The septic tank is responsible for separating the solid organic waste from the liquid wastewater. Solid particles settle at the bottom of the tank forming the sludge while grease settles at the top forming the scum layer. As effluent flows from the tank into the drain field, some solids escape with the wastewater and over time, these solids cause the leach field to clog up. A clogged leach field cannot receive any more effluent and this leads to backups, odors and other characteristics of a failed septic system. Suffice it to say that all septic systems eventually fail just from normal use.
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Customizing Your Drain Field
Customizing your drain field to suit your needs will extend the life expectancy of the system. The lifespan of your DeLand leach field depends on three main things:
1) The size of the drain field.
2) How frequently it will be used.
3) And how fast water moves through the soil.
A large, properly maintained drain field can last up to 50 years or longer.
How Long Does A Septic Leach Field Last
A well-maintained weeping bed should last at least 25 years, but it may be shorter or longer depending on a few factors. Most leaching fields fail due to biological or hydraulic overload. Hydraulic overload occurs when too much water is sent to the septic tank. For this reason, it is recommended that tasks such as laundry be spread out during the week instead of doing too much at once. This prevents hydraulic overload of the system. Biological overloading occurs when too much organic material reaches the leaching field. As a septic system owner, you must be very careful about what you discharge to the wastewater treatment system. The only solid waste that should go into your septic system is toilet paper and feces. In addition, we recommend the regular use of biological additives to increase the efficiency and longevity of the system. Bio-Sols can prevent biological overload in your system by maintaining a very active bacterial flora.
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Sluggish Drains And Toilets
Before the drain field stops working completely, you may notice that water is draining more slowly through the house. As long as there is room for water, the drains will continue to work. On the other hand, water may be draining more slowly. If you ignore this problem and it is caused by the leach field, the problem will get worse over time. The septic tank may become too full and the water may not be able to seep into the ground at all. Of course, there are other plumbing problems that can lead to slow drains, so we recommend you look for other signs as well
How Long Does A Septic System Drain Field Last
A well-built and properly maintained drainfield should last for at least 20 years. But there are some factors that determine exactly how long the septic drain field will last. These are:
How it was installed the details of the installation of the leachfield will determine its longevity. Some important details include the depth of the water table, dimensions of the leachfield, and the type of gravel used.
Effluent discharge system the method the septic system uses to discharge effluent can also determine how long the drainfield lasts. Some discharge mechanisms might overload the drainfield with too much wastewater and this reduces the percolation rate.
Soil conditions the soil condition affects the rate of percolation in the drainfield area and if the percolation rate is not too good, the drainfield will not last long. Other important soil conditions include seasonal flooding, surface runoff, and groundwater levels.
Maintenance a septic drain field that is maintained regularly lasts longer than the one that is neglected. Maintenance includes pumping the tank every couple of years and adding biological additives periodically.
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How Septic Leach Fields Are Built
The drain field or any of the aforementioned names are generally built by using perforated effluent distribution pipes and placing them either in a field or in a bed of gravel. A leach field will be multiple trenches that can be as big as 100 feet long and maybe 1-3 feet wide. Generally, you would want them to be separated by about six feet, maybe more depending on what your local requirements are.
When constructing a leach field, it is a good idea to leave some space between those original lines so that if there is a need, replacement leach lines can be installed. It is basically leaving room for error if the initial lines are not working correctly.
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Why Leach Lines Fail
A home septic system is, in theory, a smart self-contained design that returns water to the earth and organically makes it safe. In practice, a septic system has so many moving parts that things can go wrong, and leach lines are often to blame.
If the septic tank was managed improperly, too much solid waste may have been allowed to move into the leach lines, blocking holes in the pipe or the surrounding ground. Other times, the pipes may have collapsed.
What Does A Leach Field Do
A leach field may go by other names such as drain field, seepage bed or leaching bed. Every septic system has a leach field. Every system needs a drainage area, such a field or bed, for waste and wastewater to drain into.
A well-designed and well-built system has a leach field with many aspects taken into account for longevity, safety and the environment. The specifics of the soil and ground, the groundwater level, the terrain and slope, the size of the property, the usage of the septic system and drainage ability of the terrain are all important.
For instance, take a leach field and septic system serving a large home with a family living in it everyday. Everyone in the home uses the bathrooms, kitchen and everything frequently which runs into and out of the system. By contrast, consider a home which is seasonal, or with one or two people living in it. The wear of the busier system will likely be more. Proper design and construction of everything which goes into a leach field, then good maintenance over the years, will be more important.
More factors to consider are:
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Save Money With Routine Maintenance & Septic Tank Repair Services
Scheduling routine septic tank maintenance and having your tank pumped can prevent costly issues like this in the long run. During routine septic pumping, we can detect issues that need to be addressed before they grow into larger problems.
We can also catch potential issues during a , where we can determine if you also need a new septic system. We can also determine if you just need to replace system components. The average cost of septic tank repair is around $600 to $2,000. But major repairs can become more costly.
What Can Contribute To A Leach Fields Failure
While getting 50 years out of a leach field is definitely possible, certain habits and actions can drastically lower its lifespan. Harsh chemicals, for example, can create multiple problems for your entire septic system. Bacteria is needed inside your septic tank to break down waste, including fats, oils, and greases, or FOG. When harsh chemicals are used to clean sinks, toilets, and showers, or when toxic drain cleaners are used, the bacteria inside the tank are killed off. Not only will the tank fill more quickly, its more likely that larger particles will float into the leach field, leading to clogged lines. In addition, harsh chemicals can cause corrosion of parts over time.
Another contributing factor to the failure of a leach field is what goes down the drain. We often think that when it comes to waste, its out of sight, out of mind, but thats not the case when you have a septic tank. When anything other than waste, toilet paper, and water is flushed or dumped down the drain, it can clog your leach field. This includes things like plastics, diapers, and paper towels, but even wipes that are advertised as flushable are most likely not septic-safe.
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