6 Tips for Replacing a Septic Field

sewage drain field

You may need to replace your septic field lines, or drain lines, if they get clogged up with debris, dirt, or roots. Instead of trying to repair the old lines, it is much easier and effective to install new lines. You won't have to worry about replacing the tank, so, thankfully, that cuts down on the cost quite a bit.

Still, you should be prepared if you decide to replace your drain field because doing the job yourself will require that you rent a backhoe. This type of project is going to be somewhat expensive any way you handle it, but it's something that's better done early before the problems become too overwhelming. Below are some basic tips to help to get you started.

Step 1 - Calculate the System’s Flow Rate

You’ll need to figure out the flow rate of the system as chances are the output of water will be much more than the leach field and the tank were designed to handle effectively. Don’t forget to take into consideration all of the appliances in the house that use water, including any renovation plans that include adding another bathroom or kitchen.

Step 2 - Do a Perc Test

digging hole

A perc test (or percolation test) will help you determine the speed with which the effluent is absorbed into the ground. A high percolation rate indicates your leach field can be small, and if it is low the leach field will need to be to be much larger. One inch of percolation in about four minutes would be considered a high rate, in which case your field can stay in the 5000 square feet range. A rate of one inch per hour is a slow rate of percolation and your leach field space will need to have twice the amount of space than you would need if you had a small perc rate.

Step 3 - Dig the Proper Amount of Space

When you dig the space for the leach field, make sure to dig either eighteen to thirty inches deep and 8 to 12 inches wide, corresponding to your particular design.

Step 4 - Lay Your Pipe Flat

When laying your perforated pipes, keep parallel lines across the field and lay them in a flat formation or slightly tilted to ensure that effluent won’t flow out of the pipe’s end. If that happens you’ve ruined all your hard work and you’d have to start all over again.

Step 5 - Keep the Proper Distance Between Trenches

a trench in the ground

You’ll want to be sure and have at least six feet between the holes you dig. This way, you can simply put in new pipes in between the existing ones if you ever need to do this job again.

Step 6 - Consult with Building Authorities

These steps are some basic tips to be aware of as you tackle this project, but you should take the time to call or visit your local sewage or buildings department to get information on specific building codes or requirements you should be aware of.