If effluent from your septic tank is backing up into your home, the problem may lie in your drainfield. Clogged drainfields are a very common problem in septic systems. Once your drainfield is clogged, your septic system can no longer drain its effluent into the drainfield – this leaves your sewage no place to go except back up inside your home. Here are the two most common sources of drainfield problems and how a septic repair professional will fix them.
Clogged Pipes in the Drainage System
Most septic systems empty from their outlet pipe into a transfer box, which contains a number of small pipes that distribute effluent evenly throughout the drainfield. A clog anywhere from the outlet pipe in your septic tank to the very ends of your drainfield pipes can cause sewage to back up inside your home.
Flushing large amounts of grease and oil down the drain is the primary cause of drainfield pipe clogs. They build up in your septic tank in the scum layer. If the scum layer rises too high, it enters into the septic tank's outlet pipe and leaves your septic tank along with the effluent. Scum will quickly solidify and clog your drainfield pipes.
Trees as far as ten yards away can send roots into drainfield pipes, blocking them completely. Drainfield pipes are also rather fragile – heavy vehicles driving over the drainfield can place enough force on the pipes to crush them.
No matter the cause, unclogging your drainfield pipes is a difficult task. A septic repair professional will need to dig up your pipes to identify the exact point where your septic drainage system is clogged.
Your septic tank will need to be inspected as well to check if your outlet pipe is clogged. Once the location of the clog, tree roots or crushed pipe is located, the septic repair professional will unclog or replace the pipe.
The Drainfield Is Fully Saturated
When your drainfield is fully saturated with water, nothing will be able to drain into it. You can usually tell when a drainfield is saturated because puddles will form on top of the drainfield after every rain. Your drainfield becomes saturated when you're flushing more wastewater down your drains and into your septic tank than your drainfield was built to handle.
A bacterial mat forms at the ends of your drainfield pipes when the drainfield becomes saturated. When effluent has difficulty flowing into the drainfield, it builds up at the ends of the drainfield pipes. Bacteria love effluent and will reproduce rapidly in it, creating a thick sludge that's impermeable to water. This exacerbates the problem – not only is your drainfield saturated, but the ends of your pipes are completely clogged.
The good news is that your pipes are likely to be in good condition when a saturated drainfield is causing your septic system to back up. The bad news is that it can take up to a year for a saturated drainfield to dry out and become usable again.
While you wait for your drainfield to dry, your septic tank needs a new place to drain its effluent. You have two options: you can either reroute your septic tank into an entirely new drainfield or you can lengthen the existing pipes and extend the current drainfield. Which solution is right for you depends on the layout of your property – extending the current drainfield is a less expensive option, but you may not have enough space on your property to accomplish it.
Building a new drainfield or extending your current one is a perfect all-around solution. The reason drainfields become saturated in the first place is that they're undersized for the amount of wastewater entering into them. Once your current drainfield is dry, you'll be able to use it again in addition to your new drainfield. The extra capacity greatly reduces the likelihood that you'll saturate your drainfield again.
A clogged drainfield is a matter for septic repair experts – whether your drainfield is saturated or your pipes are clogged, fixing your drainfield requires knowledge and heavy equipment. If your septic system is backing up into your home and you suspect your drainfield is the cause, call a septic tank repairs professional to have your system inspected.