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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
WASHING MACHINES & SEPTIC SYSTEMS
WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
WATER SUPPLY & DRAIN PIPING
WASTEWATER TREATMENT BASICS
WATER, WELLS, WATER TANKS: TESTING GUIDE
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
When to dig to find the septic system: we would prefer not to have to dig up the whole yard to find the septic tank or other septic components, right?
This article and our accompanying septic system location videos explains how to find the leach field or drainfield portion of a septic system including cases when digging or exploratory excavation are in fact needed and justified.
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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A homeowner might dig a test hole where s/he thinks a leach line is present based on the site observations above.
The depth of a leach line may vary by site conditions but normally would be 24" or so.
A septic contractor might take a different approach and simply dig a trench across the property, figuring that the soil cut will come across the buried line.
The dig-across-the-whole-property approach might be reasonable only if we already know that the system has to be replaced, since the backhoe is likely to destroy the buried piping when it "finds" it.
Why we Like Digging by Hand First and Excavating by Backhoe Second
Most people prefer to use equipment to dig at building sites - it's faster, physically easier (to operate a machine than to wield a shovel), and it is probably more profitable. Certainly in many instances a backhoe is the only reasonable way to dig. But we prefer to try digging first by hand whenever possible. Hand excavation does the least damage to a building site when looking for septic components because:
Where to Excavate to Look for Septic or Sewer Components
But eventually, it's time to excavate - because your hand digging was fruitless or because you've found that extensive exploration and septic repair are probably needed. Usually an experienced excavation contractor has a pretty good eye for guessing at where another excavator would have dug to place a drainfield trench, D-box, or other septic system component. Walking the site and ruling in or out probable areas can significantly reduce the extent of excavation necessary.
How to Think First and Dig Second - Narrowing the Search for the Drainfield
Septic Excavation Case Illustrated - step by step excavation to replace a sewer line
Our sewer line case study shows the steps in finding and excavating septic components in detail at Sewer Line Replacement Procedure - details of when, how, and why to replace a buried drain line between a house and septic tank
Digging up a Failed Drainfield
Of course, if the leach field already needs replacement, one can probably find the end of a leach line by noticing where effluent is breaking out to the surface.
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