Everything you need to know about septic drain lines repair
A modern septic system design came a long way of innovations and improvements, becoming something quite unsimilar to cesspools we had decades ago. Today, septic systems are engineered to treat wastewater more ecologically efficiently, and that makes them complicated and thus more demanding for proper maintenance. What frequent problems can you face having this maintenance process neglected, and what to do if you need to repair septic drain lines or a tank? Let’s consider.
Main causes of septic tank backups
Tank backups have rough symptoms that can affect your property and turn really costly for a householder. Mostly, that happens when a tank hasn’t been pumped up, and the solid waste layer has grown itself into an obstruction for a water flow.
A complete evaluation is performed once every three years for gravity systems and once a year for all other systems. To ensure the system is operating correctly, you’ll have to hire a licensed professional to perform these inspections. When you hire someone to pump your tank, make sure to hire only licensed plumbers. They should pump all the tank’s contents and inspect tanks to ensure there are no leaks and that everything’s working well. But remember, pumping your tank is not the same as having a certified system inspection.
How often should you pump your systems tanks? It depends on your tank size, a number of people in your home, and your water use. Generally speaking, you should pump it every three to seven years. Many types of potential repairs will be needed to keep your system operating. They can include replacing broken baffles, balancing your D box, replacing pumps and much more. If repairs are not performed in a timely manner, the system could fail. Symptoms of a failing system can include sewage surfacing over the tanks or drain field, slow drains, or sewage backing up into the house. If you see any of these problems, contact a professional plumber immediately.
Sometimes systems can be saved from having to be replaced. One way to detect a failing system is by using a liquid tracing dye. The dye is poured into a toilet and flushed into the system. If the system is failing, the stain will come on a surface onto the lawn or nearby.
By correcting minor problems when needed, you prevent more extensive and costly problems.
Why does tank make your toilet backing up?
When a toilet connected to a septic system fails to drain waste and backs it up, that is just a tip of an iceberg. The problem, though, may lie on the surface if the toilet drain has been clogged. But it can also be rooted much deeper. Toilet backups can emerge as a result of a tank blockage or a drain field failure. So this symptom demands serious checkups to determine the cause.
Septic tank drain line clogged
A septic drain line is one of the most sensitive parts of the system. This simple pipe can be easily clogged and ruin the whole system’s operation. To unblock the drain line, you will need the assistance of a trained and equipped plumber because it is almost impossible to fight solid clogs with your own effort and with bare hands.
How to avoid a septic drain field repair?
It’s critical to protect your drain field and reserve area. The reserve area is a part of the property set aside for occasion if the current drain field fails. Protect your drain field from motor vehicle traffic, parked vehicles, heavy loads, and livestock. Don’t use heavy fertilizer or weed killer on your drain field. Also, be sure not to build anything over your drain field. Protect your drain field by diverting surface or roof water runoff away from it.
Don’t plant trees over your drain field. If the tree has been planted in a below-grade sand filter, the tree roots can completely fill all the pipes in the sand filter.
Your septic system requires routine maintenance. This includes inspecting all system components, pumping tanks, cleaning filters when needed, and making sure repairs are performed.
Risers increase accessibility to the system for you or a professional. They can also keep costs lower if a professional needs to service the system. If you do not have risers, you should have them installed.
Signs that you need septic tank replacement
When things turn really messy, and you realize that your septic tank needs to be replaced with the new one, you should act quickly. Non-functioning septic tank leaves your whole drainage system paralyzed. If you don’t want to be left without functioning commodities for long, you should particularly know what type of septic system is installed on your property, so you can pick up and buy a suitable tank. Picking the correct option from the market is not the matter of arguing and bickering – there are strict requirements of what specific type of tank you should have. So, what are the types of septic systems, and how do they operate?
Common septic system types – a complete guide
The most basic type of septic system permitted today for long-term use is the conventional gravity system. The gravity system consists of three parts – the septic tank, the drain field, and the soil beneath the drain field. The conventional gravity system requires a minimum of 3 feet of native undisturbed soil beneath the drain field. As wastewater flows from the house into the septic tank through the inlet baffle, heavy solids settled to the sludge layer on the bottom of the tank. Lighter materials float to the top, forming the scum layer. The clear liquid in the middle is known as effluent. The effluent flows through the outlet baffle into the next component of the system. If your system does not already have one consider installing an outlet baffle filter. These filters fit into the outlet baffle of your septic tank and add an extra barrier that prevents solids from moving into the drain field or other components. If you have a concrete baffle, you may want to retrofit a plastic baffle in its place. Concrete baffles tend to degrade in septic tanks due to corrosive gases. And remember to clean your filter every 6 to 12 months.
Typically gravity systems will utilize a distribution box or D box to equally distribute the effluent into each lateral pipe in the drain field. Equal distribution of the wastewater into each lateral is critical to the long-term operation of the drain field. Once the effluent reaches the laterals, it flows out of small holes and into the surrounding soil, where aerobic bacteria and other microbes treat the wastewater by removing pathogens. This treatment is critical in protecting groundwater and surface water resources. The perforated drain pipe sits on a level grate with gravel. The gravel provides a space for the effluent to move above. The gravel is covered with a fabric layer to keep the upper level of fine soil from moving down into the gravel.
Pressurized systems may be used where sufficient soil is present, but the wastewater needs to be pumped to a particular property area. Pressure systems are also used when the soil type requires specific dosing. Pressurized systems need at least two feet of vertical separation – 12 inches less than conventional because of how a pressurized system distributes the wastewater. Pressurized systems start with a septic tank, just like a gravity system. After the septic tank, the wastewater flows into a pump tank, and it’s pumped to the drain field, where it spreads equally throughout the drain field lines. The pump tank accepts wastewater from the septic tank through an inlet baffle. The pump itself is located on the floor of the tank. There are two floats used to control the pump – the on- and off-float. If the wastewater level were to drop below the pump, the pump could overheat and burn up. The redundant off float prevents the pump from turning on if there’s not adequate wastewater to cover the pump. The on/off float turns the pump on as the wastewater level rises. The effluent is dosed every few hours and is spread out across the whole bottom of the trench. Some pumps operate on demand, while others use a timer to start a pump cycle. As the pump moves wastewater into the drain field, the level drops, providing the soil with time to dry out.
The mound system. Mounds can be used where there are only one or two feet of suitable native soil. Because additional vertical separation is built up in a mound of specially engineered sand, the wastewater is applied at the top of the mount and percolates down through the sand to the native soil below.
The sand filter system. A sand filter is basically a box of engineered sand and gravel which treats the wastewater. A sand filter requires only one and a half to two and a half feet of suitable native soil. The wastewater is applied at the top of the sand filter and flows down through the sand and gravel receiving treatment. Then the pre-treated wastewater flows either by pressure or gravity to a drain field for final treatment and dispersal.
There are several proprietary systems for properties that do not have sufficient native soil depth. One type is an aerobic treatment unit or ATU. Aerobic systems need a minimum of 12 to 18 inches of soil. A blower aerator injects air into a tank, enhancing the aerobic microbial action. This type of system will often require disinfection, such as chlorine or UV treatment before the wastewater enters the drain field. ATU is required by the manufacturer to be inspected at least once and sometimes twice a year by a certified plumber. Another type of proprietary system is the biofilter. Biofilters are designed and installed on properties with as little as one foot of suitable soil available. The manufacturer requires biofilter-approved professionals to design, install and perform maintenance on these systems.
So, in general, as the vertical separation decreases the complexity of the system increases. So do the cost and maintenance requirements. Alternative systems cost thousands of dollars more than your basic system. Protect the system you have because the replacement of septic systems can be very expensive.
FAQ about septic drain lines problems
To clean the drain lines, plumbing snaking or hydro-jetter technologies are being employed. Do not try to poor cleaning chemicals to the septic system – this can lead to its total failure. Contact your local certified septic plumber for help.
Mostly, leach fields fail because of wastewater overload. Try to reduce your water use for some time to let the drain field dry out. If that doesn’t help, your leach field pipes might be damaged. Call out a certified plumber to perform the checkup.
If the soil above the drain field is soaked and you see stains, you should reduce the wastewater load on the whole system. Stop draining your waste to the system for several hours and let the drain field dry out. In most cases, after such a reset, the leach field will operate well again.
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