Moving into a home with a septic system may be a little concerning if you're not sure about what to expect. As long as you maintain the system properly, it should give you many years of service. However, you can never be sure how well the previous owners of the home maintained the tank and leach field, so you always need to be alert to signs of trouble so you can take action quickly to avoid the need for costly repairs. Here's a look at the three parts of a septic system and how to spot signs of problems in them.
The Drain Lines
Pipes connect your house to the tank and the tank to the drainfield. Just like any plumbing pipes in your home, they are subject to clogging and deterioration. Signs of a clogged pipe are slow or stopped drains. Water may back up in your tub or overflow into the yard. Clogs can form because of the things you send down the drains such as grease and tough paper or they can form because of tree roots.
The lines may also crumble or crack and need to be replaced. Clearing out a problem with the drain lines could be as simple as a plumber running a hydro jet through the lines or using a sewer snake. More serious problems may require digging up the old pipe and putting in new lines.
The Leach Field
The leach field or drainfield may seem like a mysterious thing if you've never had a septic system before. It sits farther from your home than the tank and it's where all the water from the tank drains. The wastewater then slowly filters down through the soil and it is cleared of contaminants as it does so. By the time it reaches the groundwater, the wastewater from your septic tank should be clear of a number of biological and chemical contaminants.
Occasionally, the drainfield can go bad. This might happen if you drive over the field frequently or if the previous owner has built a building on top of the soil causing it to compress. Problems with the tank can also cause the leach field to fail when solids pass into the soil. When the field fails, the grass on top of the soil turns a lush green. There might be standing water in the area and you may smell sewer odor. Repairing a failed leach field is often expensive since an entirely new field may need to be installed in a different location once the old field is bad.
The Septic Tank
The septic tank is the most important part of the system. If you avoid sending trash, chemicals, and oil into the tank, the microbes have a better chance of decomposing the waste properly. Solid waste falls to the bottom of the tank to decompose and fats and oil rise to the top where they accumulate. Wastewater stays in the middle and it is pushed out into the drainfield as more water enters the tank from your home.
A septic tank can become clogged or cracked, but the biggest problem is when you go too long before you have it pumped out. If the tank is too full you may see sewage in your yard, smell sewer gas, or your toilet may stop flushing. Prompt cleaning and pumping of the tank is the best way to prevent trouble with your septic tank and to protect the drainfield in the process. Contact a service, like B & B Drain Tech Inc, for help.