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SEPTIC SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR
SEPTIC CARE INSTRUCTIONS
SEPTIC D-BOX INSPECTION
SEPTIC DRAINFIELD FAILURE DIAGNOSIS
SEPTIC DYE TEST PROCEDURE
SEPTIC FAILURE SIGNS
SEPTIC INSPECTION & TEST GUIDE
SEPTIC LIFE EXPECTANCY
SEPTIC SUPPLIES & PARTS
SEPTIC SYSTEM DESIGN ALTERNATIVES
SEPTIC SYSTEM DESIGN BASICS
SEPTIC SYSTEMS, HOME BUYERS GUIDE to
SEPTIC SYSTEM SAFETY WARNINGS
SEPTIC TREATMENTS & CHEMICALS
SEWAGE BACKUP PREVENTION
SEWAGE EJECTOR / GRINDER PUMPS
SEWER GAS ODORS
SEWER LINE REPLACEMENT
SINKHOLES, WARNING SIGNS
SOAKAWAY BED FAILURE DIAGNOSIS
SULPHUR & SEWER GAS SMELL SOURCES
TOILETS, INSPECT, INSTALL, REPAIR
TRAPS on PLUMBING FIXTURES
TREATMENTS & CHEMICALS, SEPTIC
VIDEO GUIDES: Septic Videos
WATER CONSERVATION MEASURES
WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
WATER SUPPLY & DRAIN PIPING
WATER, WELLS, WATER TANKS: TESTING GUIDE
WASHING MACHINES & SEPTIC SYSTEMS
WASTEWATER TREATMENT BASICS
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
Why do we care where the septic drainfield is located? What can we do about it? This article and our accompanying septic system location videos explains how to find the leach field or drainfield portion of a septic system. We include sketches and photos that help you learn what to look for, and we describe several methods useful for finding buried drainfield components. (Septic drain fields are also called soil absorption systems or seepage beds.)
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"How do I find my septic system's drainfield?" is a question we hear often. There are several reasons that you may need to know the accurate location of the leachfield or drainfield.
Planning new site construction or house additions: If you are
planning to install a pool, deck, or to do any work that involves driving across your
property you want to keep these activities off of the drainfield, also called leach field which has the
job of treating and disposing of effluent from the septic tank.
Planning site landscaping around the septic system:
Other reasons for locating the leach field include septic system care such as keeping plants, particularly trees, away from this component lest roots clog it and lead to a septic system failure.
If your septic area is as overgrown as that shown in this photo, you can assume that it is unlikely to be functional.
See Planting Over Septic Systems for advice about what you should and should not plant over or near a septic system leachfield or drainfield to protect and not harm its operation.
Septic System Maintenance Requires Knowing Drainfield and D-Box Locations
Maintaining the septic system: if you know where all of the septic components are, you can investigate their condition and perform maintenance.
For example some systems are designed to permit adjustment of effluent flow among different drainfield sections, allowing sections to rest and recover.
In the US EPA photograph at left the technician is adjusting a concentric opening cap on individual drainfield lines to balance effluent flow among them.
Diagnosing septic system failures requires knowing septic drainfield location
Diagnosing septic backups, slow drains, or wet areas: if you know where the D-box (distribution box) and where the septic drainfield individual leach lines or seepage pits are located, you can explain possible wet areas as either probably harmless (distant from any known septic components), harmful (flooding the septic fields), or indicative of septic field failure (odors and effluent appearing at ground surface).
When we found this wet area showing up under deep snow cover at the rear of a residential property we had to decide if it was groundwater, a local spring, or a failing septic system. It was pretty smelly which made everyone suspicious.
The worst turned out to be true.
We had a septic drainfield that had been installed in soil with high seasonal water table, lots of local groundwater and surface runoff from nearby Clover Hill in Poughkeepsie, NY, inadequate fill in the drainfield area, a failed steel septic tank, and a failed drainfield.
Total replacement of the drainfield included a curtain drain to intercept local groundwater, site drainage corrections, additional fill for the drainfield area, and a new tank and drainfield system. Curtain drains or intercept drains can protect septic drainfields in areas of wet soils or surface and subsurface groundwater
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