Posted on: 9 December 2018Share
While you may not think about your septic system's drainfield very often, keeping it in good condition is an important part of septic system maintenance. The drainfield is a large area of land where the effluent from your septic tank drains to. From there, the wastewater drains into the soil. If the soil in the drainfield is fully saturated with water or if one of the pipes running through the drainfield is clogged, it can fail entirely.
A failed drainfield doesn't provide anywhere for the wastewater in your septic tank to drain, so it will begin to back up into your home. Maintaining your drainfield keeps the foul-smelling wastewater in your septic tank far away from your home's plumbing fixtures. To help you get the longest effective lifetime out of your drainfield, here are four ways to keep it in good condition.
1. Keep Household Water Usage Low
The best way to prevent your septic drainfield from becoming fully saturated is to reduce the amount of water entering into your septic system. Do your best to minimize the amount of water used in your home — avoid lengthy showers or baths and don't use the washing machine when you only need to wash a few items of clothing.
When your home has a septic system, it's also very important to repair any plumbing leaks in your home as quickly as possible. A leaking toilet or faucet is a constant source of water draining into your septic drainfield, which can quickly saturate it and cause your septic system to back up.
2. Pump Your Septic Tank Routinely
Pump your septic tank according to professional recommendations in order to keep your drainfield functioning well. How often you'll need to pump your septic tank depends on its size and the amount of wastewater entering into the tank — pumping every two or three years is a common frequency. If you don't pump your septic tank, the level of the sludge layer rises until it's precariously close to the outlet pipe, which can let solids escape the pipe along with the effluent. Septic drainfield pipes are quite small and are easily clogged by any solids that enter.
3. Keep the Drainfield Clear of Vehicles and Plants
Don't let guests park their vehicles on top of your drainfield — the heavy weight of their cars compacts the soil, which prevents the field from draining well. In addition, vehicles may break the thin underground pipes.
Trees and bushes should never be planted near your drainfield. Tree roots can extend for surprisingly far distances — keeping them at least 25 feet away from the drainfield is the safest option. Roots can enter into the pipes in your drainfield, causing serious damage or clogging them completely. However, grass is safe to plant on top of the drainfield.
4. Don't Let Any Other Sources of Water Drain Into the Drainfield
There shouldn't be any other sources of water draining into your drainfield — for example, an outdoor shower or the gutters on your home's roof. Your septic system's drainfield was designed to only handle the wastewater load from your septic tank. Allowing other sources of water to drain into your drainfield will quickly cause it to saturate.
Maintaining your septic drainfield is simple — keep the area clear of plants, vehicles, water runoff, minimize your home's water usage, and make sure you're pumping your septic tank according to the recommendations of a septic system professional. If you ever notice any problems with your drainfield, such as a foul smell emanating from the area or ponds of water forming above it, call a professional septic system company to inspect your home's drainfield — you may be able to catch and repair the problem before your septic system begins backing up.