June 28, 2013
We get many calls from people who are experiencing trouble with their septic systems. From standing water in their yards, toilets backing up, seepage from the top of their septic tank to a smell coming from the yard, we've seen and heard it all. We are usually asked to pump the septic tank in hopes that this will solve the problem. In the case of normal maintenance (recommended every 2-3 years), a routine pumping would be all that is required. Unfortunately, too many people wait far too long and their leach field has been compromised beyond the point of no return. Other times, there are issues that pumping will not fix and a repair is necessary.
The most common misconception that we hear from many people is that they don't need to pump their tank as long as they don't put the wrong things down their drains. We couldn't disagree more! If only these people knew the potential damage that they were causing to their leach fields, they would have their septic tank cleaned regularly.
If the contaminants in the septic tank are too full and reach the baffle, sludge pushes out and fills the leach field, slowing and or preventing the dispersal of water into the soil. When the leach fields are no longer operating, you will notice what is called drain back when the tank is pumped. This is where water is back fed through the leach field into the tank from the pressure in the leach field. A very high water level in the septic tank can also mean that the leach field is not accepting the water. We are seeing so much of this due to the unusually wet spring and summer. During these times of high saturation the system will not function as well because the high water has slowed the dispersal through the soil. The only way to fully remedy this properly is to replace the leach field including the distribution box.
Snaking and cleaning the leach fields is not recognized as a permanent repair to the system. This could buy you a small amount of time but you would still then have to do the repair.
Many times people will try to cover up surface discharge with dirt in hopes of fixing the problem. Doing this when you have a compromised leach field, could potentially cause back up into the home and other problems. Covering up the discharge can actually act as a dam, blocking the matter that is flowing from your system, back into your home.