Many times, people buy homes only to find that the septic tank system is old and needing repair or replacement, or simply outdated. If you think about it, septic tanks are often forgotten until something goes wrong. You flush the toilet, drain water from a sink, and what happens from that point on is not even a thought.
To keep your septic tank system running at optimal performance, you should have it pumped once every four years. If you use a lot of water, then this would probably not be necessary. Even still, the drain field can still cause you big headaches. This system is one that consists of perforated pipes located underground. These pipes are what channel effluent, which is the liquid waste that comes from the septic tank, going out over a large portion of land. At this point, the discharge percolates very slowly, filtering down into the soil where it will eventually become purified through a natural process, rejoining the aquifer.
To keep your septic tank running right, it is important to understand the various things that can go wrong, as you will see below:
If the soil is poor, typically hardpan or clay, the consistency and density will not allow the effluent to percolate back into the soil at a rate equal or greater to what is being produced. This means the discharge is flowing out quicker than it can be processed, thus causing a backup.
The drain field can become overwhelmed with moisture when there is high seasonal groundwater.
No or improper maintenance can also be a culprit. Again, unless you run a significant amount of water through, you should have your septic tank pumped on a regular basis. What happens is that waste can stay in the tank unless it is cleaned professionally. This means the pipes become clogged and the flow of the effluent is slow, backing the system up.
One of the biggest problems is that too often people are the problem. If you put things like fibrous foods, which would include celery, potatoes, string from corn-on-the-cob, and so on, or excessive paper products such as toilet tissue, paper towels, or feminine products down the drain, the drain field and pipes can easily clog.
Your best course of action is to change the way in which you maintain your septic tank. However, if you find that your drain field is not operating properly, you do have several options. The first is that the existing drain field can be dug up and repaired or replaced. In most cases, this option is a good one. Additionally, you can bypass part of the drainage system and start a new system. Just remember that this will take up more land but if you have sufficient room, this too is a good option.