How to Detect Septic Drain Field Problems

What You'll Need
Rubber boots
Time to troubleshoot

A septic drain field is located past a septic tank and away from the property. The drain field distributes the material that has been processed by the septic tank into the soil. This material is seeped into the soil where it is broken down by microorganisms before the waste moves into the ground water or evaporates from the soil. If the drain field fails to perform its function, it can cause problems for the septic tank and results in costly repairs for the homeowner. Here are the most common problems caused by failures in the drain field of the septic tank system.

Problem 1: Standing Water

The pipes in the drain field are vulnerable to being broached by roots from trees or bushes. Once the pipe is broken, material readily seeps into the drain field. The breakage in the pipe prevents the even distribution of material into the ground along the length of the pipe. All of the material in the pipe will escape at the point of the breakage. This will eventually reach the surface and result in the standing water. Another cause of standing water is the drain field is no longer able to absorb the water flowing through it. This can happen if there is an abundance of rain water in the ground and the ground is not able to process any more of the water coming from the septic tank.

Problem 2: Basement Flooded with Sewage

The pipes in a drain field are perforated to allow for the escape of processed materials from the septic tank. These holes are distributed along the length of the pipes to allow for even distribution of material in the drain field. If these holes become clogged, the pipes are unable to disperse the materials. The material will then clog the pipes blocking any new material to be released from the septic tank. When the septic tank reaches capacity, the material will return back up the drainage pipes into the house resulting in sewage being released into the basement.

Problem 3: Backed up Toilets

As material moves from the septic tank to the drain field, it is released into the soil through holes in the pipes. The septic tank is responsible for processing waste from the house to break it down into pieces small enough to fit through the holes in the pipes. If the septic tank is not breaking down the materials into small enough pieces, the waste will not escape from the pipes. This results in slow drainage. When toilets are flushed in the house, they are slow to drain because the pipes are unable to process the material as quickly due to the blockage.

Problem 4: Flooding

Flooding is a more serious problem than standing water. The pipes of the drain field can easily be crushed by any weight that is placed on top of them. The most common cause of flooding is the addition of weight on the ground above the drain field. This weight could be the result of the construction of a building. Parking cars on the ground above the drain field can cause enough weight to crush the pipes. Once the pipes are crushed all the waste material is released into the soil. This results in flooding of the area above the drain field.