If you have a septic system, your main concern might be to have the tank pumped on time so waste doesn't spill into the yard. You may give little thought to the drainfield. However, the drainfield plays a vital role in the proper operation of the system and it must be maintained properly too. Here's a look at how the drainfield works and how you can keep it in good shape for as long as possible.
How The Septic Drainfield Works
Waste leaves your home from the toilet and drains and collects in the septic tank. Once inside the tank, solid waste falls to the bottom and turns into sludge over time. Oily fats float on top, which leaves the dirty water in the middle layer. The water then flows out of an exit pipe in the middle of the tank leaving the solids and fats behind. The exit pipe leads to the drainfield.
The septic drainfield is a series of pipes buried in trenches in your backyard. These pipes distribute the wastewater to the soil where it slowly filters down to the groundwater. As the contaminated water moves through the layers of soil, the bacteria is filtered out so it won't harm the groundwater supply.
Signs Of Problems With The Drainfield
The drainfield can develop problems just like the septic tank can. When this happens, the system can become blocked or saturated and cause waste to back up into the tank and into your house. Wastewater might also accumulate over the top of the field and result in a soggy patch in your yard that has a foul odor. You might even notice the grass over the field is healthier and greener than the rest of the grass in your yard due to the availability of water and nutrients when the field doesn't drain properly.
How To Maintain Your Septic Drainfield
The most important thing you can do to protect the drainfield is to pump out the septic tank on time so fats or solid waste don't enter the field and cause clogs. It's also important to avoid driving over the field or building a shed in that part of the yard because the heavy weight could damage a pipe.
Avoid planting trees on or near the field as their roots can burrow into the pipes and cause clogs. Using too much water can also become a problem because the field will become too saturated. This might happen when your family outgrows the size of the field. Abnormal weather patterns can also cause problems when soil conditions are too wet or too dry.
When you notice problems with the toilet or drains slowing down, call for help with your septic system right away before permanent damage is done to the field. It might be possible to clear out the pipes, but many times, it's necessary to install a new field when the original one fails.