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SEPTIC SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR
SEPTIC CARE INSTRUCTIONS
SEPTIC D-BOX INSTALL REPAIR
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
This article explains how to detect and diagnose a clogging failure of the septic drainfield or leachfield as one of the types of septic system failure in the drain field, leach field, seepage bed, or similar component. We list the causes of each type of septic component failure, and list the septic component failure criteria or in other words what conditions are defined as "failure"?
How can you distinguish between a blocked pipe, a septic tank that needs pumping, and a clogged drainfield that needs replacement? This is an important question as it distinguishes between relatively low cost maintenance or repair task and a costly septic leach field replacement.
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In simplest terms, there are several visible septic effluent or onsite wastewater disposal failures accompanied by several other indicators that the soakaway bed, drainfield, or leaching beds are in trouble:
Understand the Cause of Septic Field Failure to Determine What Repair is Needed
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Question / Comment:
(May 14, 2011) Timbo68 said:
This series of articles has been EXTREMELY helpful. I discovered some nasty water oozing inot my yard. Research from these articles helped me to troubleshoot the problem and orchestarte and solution. Thank you SO MUCH!!
Question / Comment:
(July 22, 2011) ROBERT said:
WHAT SIZE OF PIPE WOULD YOU NEED ID YOU HAVE 200 GAL.A DAY WASTE WATER
Robert 200 gallons a day of wastewater is very small - about one person's worth of use. But you want to be asking what size drainfield is needed, not pipe size (diameter);
The required drainfield size (feet of pipe in appropriately constructed trenches, for example) DEPENDS on soil conditions - if the soil has slow percolation rate you need more.
If the wastewater is gray water - sinks, tubs, laundry - an ordinary drywell might suffice.
Question / Comment:
(Aug 9, 2011) KZach said:
I have two concrete block septic tanks (a gravity system) at my home and both have been pumped in the last three months. My main septic tank recently started backing up in the yard after lots of water usage indoors (laundry, showers, etc). We have also had a lot of rain recently. I know the septic tank backed up in the yard because the soil directly over the tank was wet and it smelled bad.
There was no backup in the house drains, however, the drains have been running slowly for the past few weeks and just before discovering the water in the yard I heard the toilet bubbling as I showered. Since the tank was recently pumped, I would assume that it is not full. I have a small pipe that I can open and view the water line into the septic tank from the house and it had evidence of scum in it and it has a constant water level filling about half of the pipe. The man that pumped the tank felt that the drain field was okay. He made no mention of the baffles.
Does this sound like a drain field problem? A problem with the baffles? An overloaded system? Thanks so much for your advice!
Not quite KZach.
A septic tank (or a pair of them in your case) is normally ALWAYS FULL of septic effluent and sewage. In normal family use it takes just a few days for the tank to re-fill after being pumped. The job of the tank is to retain solid sewage and perform partial treatment of the septic effluent - the liquid portion of wastewater. The effluent then flows out of the tank into a drainfield for further treatment by and disposal into the soil.
If your tanks are made of concrete block ti sounds like a home-made system, maybe undersized septic tanks or leaky tanks that admit groundwater into the tanks during wet weather. If the tanks are flooding from groundwater that can saturate the drainfield too and lead to total system failure.
Some floating scum and settled sludge are normal in a septic tank. When those layers get too thick the septic tank stops working and sends sewage solids into (and ruins) the drainfield. That's why we pump septic tanks on a schedule (see SEPTIC TANK PUMPING SCHEDULE article link at page left)
Septic tanks MUST have baffles to keep solid waste out of the drainfield. OTherwise it's ruined. Your pumper should have looked at those components and would surely have told you if they were missing (common on home made septic tanks) or damaged.
IN sum, sewage backups in the yard and odors are a failure that needs diagnosis. Just pumping the tank won't fix that problem.
Questions & answers or comments about the procedure for diagnosing a clogged pipe failure in the septic drainfield or soakaway bed
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Technical Reviewers & References
Related Topics, found near the top of this page suggest articles closely related to this one.
Design Manuals for Septic Systems
Onsite Wastewater Disposal Books