Frequently asked questions about leach fields:
Q: What exactly is a leach field?
A leach field is any method of leaking the discharge water from the septic tank into the ground. This discharge is from final
stage (last outlet from the last septic tank, (sometimes there is more than one tank). In rare situations the effluent may
be allowed to be discharged above the ground. The most common leach field is where trenches are dug in the ground in a branching
pattern to allow the treated effluent water from the septic tank to be distributed and absorbed. Gravel or stone forms a bed
in the trenches for the perforated pipes that connect to the septic tank via a distribution box. Again, this is the most common,
but not necessarily the best way to leach the water. Cost and cost to the environment needs to be considered. Proper pretreatment
of the wastewater benefits the environment and a long life for the leach field.
Q: Are all leach fields
built the same way?
A: No. Depending on the percolation tests of the area for the leach field
a determination is made on the best design for each specific area. Some leach fields are simple trench filled fields dug into
the existing ground. Other leach fields are raised beds where proper drainage material is brought in and placed above the
existing ground to allow both evaporation and absorption of effluent water.
Q: Where would I find my leach
A: If you do not have access to building plans or records of a septic dealer's repair
of the leach field you might have a difficult time guessing where the entire field is located. Sometimes the lay of the land
helps identify where it is located. Other times it would take a measuring snake to identify how long each distribution line
is as long as no tree roots or other obstructions have damaged or infiltrated the installation
all leach fields the same size?
A: No. Depending on the size of the area available to design
the field, the obstacles such as buildings, trees, rock or existing water, well location and slope of the land, each field
may be unique.
Q: Why does a leach field fail?
A: The main reason for failure
of a leach field is plugging caused by a failed septic tank. Particles of non-decomposed septic material escape the septic
tank outlet baffle and decrease the porous nature of the leach field earth. Over time the effluent water may seek relief by
bubbling up to the surface since it no longer can be absorbed properly downward into the ground. Offensive odors and dangerous
bacteria in the surface water can be identified. Solving the problem of the failed septic tank is the first way to correct
this problem. Extending the leach field without addressing the septic tanks problem will only result in extending the problem
which will eventually happen again. The best way find the extent of the failure is to ask a trained professional.
What can I do if my leach field is always wet?
A: Usually this indicates that the leach field
has failed and needs immediate attention. Septic bacteria is unsafe for people or pets. The cause for the failure needs to
be determined. Plugged leach field lines, groundwater flooding, leaking house water, a failed septic tank, or damage done
to the field by excavation or settling all contribute to the failure.
Q: Can I drive over my leach field?
A: No. It is not recommended, but limited driving of light vehicles should not harm a properly installed
leach field. Under wet conditions, however, any heavy packing of the earth over the distribution lines will have a negative
impact on effectiveness. Avoid having very heavy vehicles such as those used for oil deliveries, pool water filling, cement
delivery, etc., ride directly over the field.
Q: Can I build on top of the leach field?
No, this is not recommended.
Q: Can I plant anything over my leach field?
No. Again this is not recommended, but if you must, planting should be limited to annuals and shallow rooted decorative bushes.
Larger bushes or trees may send long root systems into the distribution lines and have even been known to grow all the way
back and sometimes into the septic tank!
Frequently asked questions about pumping:
Q: When do I need an emergency pumping
Emergency pumping is needed when you hear strange noises or smell unusual odors coming from your house plumbing. Hopefully,
you get the emergency pumping before a nasty backup of septic material into your home. You will still need the emergency pumping
but then you also have the unpleasant job and cost of cleaning up a mess that could have been avoided.
How often should a working septic tank be pumped?
A: Honestly, if you were absolutely sure
it was fermenting properly and there were no non-biodegradable pollutants in it, it should never have to be pumped. The reality,
however, is that often the septic tank is used more like a trash can rather than a properly controlled chemistry project.
So you need to do service inspections and regular pumping to prolong the life of your septic leaching system. Trained professionals
of the Peace of Mind school offer you the best service for your system. The pumping will remove all of the non-degradable
pollutants on the top and bottom of the tank as well as the heavy sludge from the bottom and leave enough of the good-bacterially
rich liquid to continue to break down future incoming material. The trained pumping professional will produce a written report
on the performance and health of your septic tank and provide you with information on the dos and don'ts to help you keep
it working properly. Only a trained professional can correctly assess your usage and present condition of your system to tell
you how often you should pump the tank. At a minimum your septic tank should be pumped every two to three years OR when the
total depth of sludge and scum exceeds one third of the depth of the tank. Pumping regularly is cost effective because it
extends the life of your leach field which would be a major expense to repair or replace.
Q: Do they
need to dig up my lawn to pump?
A: Not necessarily. If you already have access to at least
the inlet and outlet lids of your septic tank, digging up your lawn will not be necessary. If there is no access to the lid
of the septic tank, some digging may be necessary to expose the ports so that the hose can be inserted to remove the septic
material. At this time it would be wise to install risers so that digging would not be necessary the next time pumping is
required. Pumping cannot and should not be done through the pipe outlet in your basement.
Q: Why do they
need to see the baffles when they pump?
A: The most important inspection that must be
done when a pumping is to check the baffles to make sure that they are not damaged or clogged. The outlet baffle that allows
the hopefully clear effluent water to flow to your leach field is by far the most important. This baffle must be intact, structurally
solid and free from any debris so that it holds back any solids that might flow into the leach field prior to proper breakdown.
Q: How much does a pumping cost?
A: The cost of pumping varies depending on a
number of factors. The size of the tank and the number of gallons of material removed affects the cost. The difficulty to
uncover a tank if there are no access ports available. The cost per gallon charged by the receiving facility in your area
for the pumping company to dispose of your material.
Frequently asked questions about repairs:
Q: Can a septic system be repaired?
Yes. Depending upon the problem, many times a repair is possible. Some examples of a repair would be: to fix a crushed or
collapsed pipe, , to replace a broken baffle that has allowed solids into the leach field, replace a cracked or collapsed
septic tank lid, etc.
Q: Will a septic system repair solve my septic problems?
Yes and No. Yes, the repair will address an immediate problem that must be taken care of, but No, the repair may not solve
the larger septic problems that may have been present before the specific problem that needed repair. It also would not necessarily
reverse any problems that were caused because of the specific problem. Every situation is unique and the trained septic dealer
will help the homeowner solve all of the septic problems.
Frequently asked questions about environmental issues:
Q: What environmental issues are most important
regarding septic systems?
A: As population increases in any area, the concern of where, how
much, and of what quality septic effluent of these homes has on the environment increases. The simple fact is that all of
the septic waste water winds up in the environment. If we are lucky, it is safe and stays where we want it. As it either evaporates
or seeps into the earth, we expect it to do no harm to the land, waters of the land and the people who live near.
Are there other important environmental concerns?
A: Yes. Drinking water and the protection
of the watershed that supplies our drinking water is constantly be compromised. Some of these factors are the population growth
and the demands put on the natural resource, the pollutants that get into the water supply from this growth, periodic industrial
spill accidents that further damage or make the water supply unfit for human use, and the increase in the number of failed
or stressed septic systems.