Drain fields are important parts of the septic system. In fact, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that a healthy, working drain field is vital to keep the drainage processes of your house functioning optimally.
You might have experienced drainage issues that require service to the septic tank or fixing of the drain field. Repairing and maintenance of the system is important but we should keep in mind that a drain field can’t be expected to carry on working forever.
There are instances which should make you consider replacement of your drain field. We discuss three of them in this article.
How long can your drain field last? Although the answer to this question varies with how much load was put on the system by your household, we should consider the fact that drain fields are biological systems, and therefore have a lifespan.
Studies by environmental agencies show that an average drain field’s useful life ranges from around 25 to 30 years.
After that time, the naturally-occurring beneficial organisms that live in the drain field have reproduced to such a large extent that they being to clog the pores that are supposed to help move filtered water out of the system.
Therefore, if your drain field has lived past its biological years, you need to consider changing it.
The septic system installed in your house was built with certain assumptions about your water usage. Septic tanks and drain fields have a limited volume of wastewater, which they can hold onto. Since the filtration and dispersion process are relatively slower than the rate at which water is moved into the septic system, the drain field has to hold onto water for around 24 hours.
If the number of people living in your house increases or for some other reason your household water consumption goes up, your drain field will not be able to process wastewater beyond its volume. This could result in flooding in the field and clogging up of its pipes.
To avoid permanent damage to your septic system due to oversaturation, you’ll have to replace your existing drain field with a larger one.
3. Damage to Percolation Process
Drain fields are constructed with layers of gravel and sand around them. The purpose of these layers of sand is to make sure that the particles are permeable enough for the water to pass through and at the same time filter out bacteria and virus. This process is known as percolation.
Placing a heavy weight on top of drain field in the form of cars, tractors, animals or permanent structures can compress its soil and stop the percolation process. In such a case, replacing the drain field is extremely important. Otherwise, you run the risk of dirty water flooding your soil, escaping the drain field and contaminating the environment around it.
Getting it Replaced
It is important to know the legal procedures that need to be followed for the replacement of a drain field. You can contact your local health department or state environmental agency to learn more about procedures and codes to be followed.