A septic system is made up of two components: a septic tank and a drain field, also referred to as a leach field. Bacteria begin to digest organic materials in the wastewater in the septic tank. From the septic tank, the partially treated effluent, then flows into the drain field for a secondary treatment. Bacteria then complete the digestion and purification process, and naturally purifies as the wastewater slowly infiltrates into the soil. The soil acts as a biological filter, where harmful substances are removed before it reaches the ground water. The main job of a drain field is to purify and disperse the effluent flowing from the septic tank.
Drain field systems are constructed of rock, pipe or chambers for leaching systems. These different aggregate connect together to form a continuous drainage area. They are installed in trenches where the entire bottom is open for unobstructed infiltration of water or in beds for more space. The larger storage volume within the hollow chambers allows peek flows of effluent from the home. The size, design, and location of a drain field is determined by many factors including soil characteristics, the amount of waste water flow, the ground slope, and depth to ground water.
Most septic systems will fail at some point. These systems are designed to have a lifetime of approx. 20 to 30 years, under the best conditions. Eventually, the soil around the drainfield becomes clogged with organic material, clogging up the system and making it unusable.
Many other factors can cause the system to fail well before the end of its predicted lifetime. Root intrusion, soils saturated by excessive rain water, improper location, poor original design or poor installation can all lead to major issues. However, the most common reason for premature failure is improper maintenance by homeowners and/or tenants. When a system is poorly maintained, i.e. not pumped out on a regular basis, sludge (solid materials) build up inside the septic tank, and could potentially flow into the drainfield, clogging it beyond repair.
What to do when my drain field has failed?
In most cases, redesigning and replacing the system in a new location is the only practical long term solution. This type of work should be completed only by a qualified contractor. Local health department permits are required before construction can begin. The “chemical cures” sometimes advertised are ineffective remedies for severely damaged systems.
At Metro-Rooter we are your Jacksonville drain field specialist. Call us today at (904) 695-1911!