How To Tell If A Drain Field Is Failing: 5 Warning Signs

Here is how to tell if you need a new leach field. Look out for these failure signs.

Like other components of a septic system, a drain field is likely to fail due to several issues. Such issues often have to do with conditions that aren’t optimal.

Here, we’ll be discussing ways to tell if a drain field is failing.

For a lot of people, the condition of their drain field isn’t a top priority until it becomes overwhelming. In other words, drain field issues only become evident after the problem has fully developed.

Early detection of drain field failure gives you a head start by allowing you to respond faster.

The faster response allows for better handling of the problem. To find out all the details about the state of your drain field in regards to problem detection, all you have to do is read along.

Possible Causes of Drain Field Failure

Before we get into details on drain field problem detection, it will be necessary to first consider the possible causes of drain field failure.

These include collapsed or broken drain lines or piping, interference of tree roots, irregular septic tank pumping and cleaning as well as insufficient septic tank oxygen due to excessive grease capping.

Soil compaction is also a major cause of drain field failure. This compaction is caused by the driving of heavy equipment or machinery as well as vehicles over drain fields.

Although these points are self-explanatory, we’ll provide a brief explanation to readers seeking better clarity.

  • Collapsed or Broken Drain Lines

A drain field line or pipe is expected to channel wastewater or effluent to the drain field.

However, in cases where the line gets clogged, such water either drains out slowly or gets completely blocked. This situation is known as a collapsed or broken drain line.

The main causes for this include a corrosive activity on pipes, as well as the collection of grease among other things.

These all contribute to clogging.

  • Interference of Tree Roots

This is one of the common issues faced when tree roots get in the way of drain lines.

One of the common signs includes patches of green around your leach field. These are groundcover that results from nutrient-rich effluent leaking out from drain field distribution pipes.

Normally, distribution lines are meant to deliver effluent to the drain field. When plant roots get in the way, the pipes get blocked and broken, thus emptying their nutrient-rich contents.

  • Irregular Septic Tank Pumping and Cleaning

One of the most crucial maintenance tasks for any septic system is scheduled maintenance and cleaning. This helps get rid of excess effluent and sludge from a tank.

Irregular pumping and cleaning will naturally affect the drain field’s normal functioning, thus result in issues.

  • Insufficient Septic Tank Oxygen

As earlier stated, insufficient septic tank oxygen affects aerobic bacterial action.

This mostly applies to aerobic septic systems that require the presence of oxygen. This is caused when too much grease gets into the septic system. This ultimately results in a failing drain field.

  • Soil Compaction

Soil compaction is quite common around drain fields where vehicles or heavy equipment are driven over drain fields or drain lines.

This compaction alters the absorption capacity of the soil, thus leading to a failure of the drain field.

How To Tell If Your Drain Field is Failing

Like most parts of a septic system, a drain field will surely show signs of possible problems. It’s left for you to identify and respond appropriately to such tell-tale signs.

So, what are these symptoms? There are several and include returning flow as well as slow drainage.

Others include developing odors, rising water, and lush, weed growth, or green grass over the drain field area.

We’ll have to discuss each of these signs to enable you to have a better grasp of what they’re about.

  • Returning Flow

Reverse flow is one of the first signs of a failing drain field. This is only noticeable when your septic tank is being pumped. Instead of the flow being outward (that is towards the drain field), service technicians are likely to spot a reversal.

Here, the only possible explanation will be the inability of wastewater or effluent to get soaked or absorbed into the soil. In other words, there’s nowhere for wastewater to go and returns to its source which is the tank.

This drain field failure can be solved in many ways depending on what is causing the problem.

Possible solutions include pipe replacement or jetting to remove pipe clogs in drain field lines.

  • Slow Drainage

A failing drain field will negatively impact the flow of all drains in a home.

This includes sinks, toilets, and tubs among others. You’re likely to witness a slower than usual drainage system. It’s important to take immediate action to avoid complete failure.

Complete failure of a drain field will result in a shutoff of the drainage system. Here, water no longer flows slowly but stops completely. Initially, this problem may be mistaken for clogs or other related issues.

However, further assessment will reveal a failed drain field.

  • Developing Odors

It’s not natural to perceive foul odors around your drain field. Any such odors point to a possible problem that may be developing or has developed.

As a pointer to a potential problem, it’s necessary to call for professional help.

  • Rising Water

Rising water is also known as backup and results from a cracked drain line. Drain lines may crack due to root growth among other things. What results is a situation where excess water gets released into the drain field area.

This is seen in the mushy or spongy ground around the drain field.

  • Lush Weed Growth or Green Grass

Drain line malfunctioning is likely to lead to the release of excess nutrients and water into the drain field. This results in lush green grass growth. You’re likely to find this restricted to the drain field area alone.

Under such situations, the help of a service technician is urgently needed to prevent the problem from worsening.

Drain field failure is a problem that should be fixed as urgently as possible. Failure to do so only serves to further compound the problem. This may lead to the malfunctioning of other parts of the septic system.

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1 thought on “How To Tell If A Drain Field Is Failing: 5 Warning Signs”

  1. I’m inquiring how much to clean the tank out. 2 bath – 3 people.
    Also how much to replace spetic drain field. I don’t have a problem yet such as slow drainage but, I see we’re it does have a lush green area in the drain field. I keep checking on it to make sure the green grass is not getting squishy.
    I am just starting to get quotes to see how much it would cost because I want to be proactive and not wait until anything backs up into my home.

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