3 Signs Your Septic Drain Field Needs To Be Replaced

Septic Drain Fields Explained

For homes that rely on a septic system to dispose of wastewater rather than a municipal sewer, few things are more unpleasant and inconvenient than a drain field failure. To understand what causes a drain field to fail (and how to avoid it), it’s helpful to know how septic drain fields work. 

After wastewater from the home flows into the septic tank, it separates into three elements as it is being digested by the anaerobic bacteria inside the tank – sludge, scum, and effluent. Sludge is the solid waste that sinks to the bottom. Oil and grease float to the top, forming the scum. Effluent is the liquid waste that’s left over. This effluent flows out of the tank through an array of perforated pipes buried 3-4 feet underground and surrounded by soil or gravel. This is the septic drain field (also called a leach field). 

From here, the effluent seeps through the gravel or soil, essentially filtering out the nasty bacteria and other impurities, leaving clean water that makes its way into the water table. But when the leach field stops working properly, it can cause all kinds of nasty problems – not the least of which is replacing the whole drain field. So this article will lay out common signs of leach field failure, what can cause it, and how to prevent it!

Nasty Odors Coming From the Drain Field

The first sign of a possible drain field failure is a foul smell near the drain field or septic system. If everything is working properly, any odors should be contained underground. So if homeowners notice a rotten egg or sewage smell around their septic drain field, it may mean that the effluent isn’t draining properly, the system has become too full, or the drain field is saturated with water.

Homeowners may also notice foul odors coming from the home’s drains, which can indicate a drain field problem or another issue with the septic system, such as a clog. But whether in the home or the yard, that nasty odor means trouble, so homeowners should call their septic service company immediately. 

Water Puddles or Soggy Spots


Standing water, wet spots, or unusually thick grass near the drain field or septic tank may also indicate leach field problems – particularly if a nasty odor accompanies them. In some cases, this may mean that the drain field has become saturated with water due to a heavy rainstorm or exceptionally high water usage in the home. Or, it may mean that solid waste has clogged the drain field.

Depending on the underlying cause and severity of the problem, it may be possible to dry out and clean a septic leach field – a process called rejuvenation. But in many cases, excavating and replacing the drain field may be necessary. 

Drains are Slow or Clogged


Another possible indicator of a leach field failure is if the home’s drains seem slower than normal or the toilets don’t flush properly (or clog frequently). If the septic drain field isn’t draining properly, the septic tank will fill up with effluent quickly, and the home’s wastewater won’t have anywhere to go. Before long, if the problem isn’t addressed, sewage will be backing up into the home’s drains!

Homeowners may notice one of these signs or any combination, but the important thing is to act fast before the problem worsens. Resolving the issue by cleaning out the tank and performing drain field repair/rejuvenation may be possible, but more often than not, a drain field replacement is necessary. 

It’s important to note, however, that leach field failure is most often the result of inadequate maintenance and inappropriate materials in the wastewater, so homeowners can typically avoid these problems by having their septic systems serviced regularly and being mindful about what they put down the drains!

About Capital City Septic Services

Capital City Septic Services experts have been proudly serving the Tallahassee community since 1986. Their fast response times, honest & competitive pricing, top-notch workmanship, and outstanding customer service have earned them numerous 5-star reviews from satisfied customers. Their licensed and insured technicians are available 24/7 for emergency service, so don’t wait to call Capital City Septic Services for leach field replacement in Tallahassee, FL!

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Easy Maintenance Tips for a Low-Stress No-Mess Drain Field

Keep Your Drain Field in Tip Top Shape

Drain fields are an important part of a home’s septic system. While many may think that the septic system ends with the septic tank, this system extends to what is called a drain field, otherwise known as a leach field or an absorption field. They are called such because this area is where wastewater from the septic tank is distributed into the soil, where it is filtered and broken down by microbes and other natural bacteria.

Because drain fields aren’t top of mind for home maintenance, it’s easy to neglect their maintenance. Still, for homeowners who don’t want to encounter problems with their drain field, there is more than one way to keep their septic drain field functioning properly, either through preventive measures or with the help of a professional septic system service provider.

Benefits of Professional Septic Leach Field Maintenance

maintenanceMaintenance, especially if done regularly by professionals, always has a benefit to the homeowner, the most important of which are listed below: 

  • Saves Money – while it may be difficult to part with $250 to $500 for drain field maintenance, the return for this particular investment is easy to see, especially considering both the trouble of having a troublesome drain field and the cost of having it repaired or replaced, which is somewhere in the area of $5,000 to $15,000. Another good thing about regular maintenance is that it only needs to be done every three to five years.
  • Protects Property Value – a properly functioning leach field protects the value of a property. Nothing shows potential buyers away more than a smelly, poorly maintained septic field.
  • Maintains Healthy Living Conditions – a healthy drain field is also important to keep families living within its vicinity healthy and free from diseases related to bacteria and viruses present in human waste. It also protects them from exposure to high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus.

Keep the Drain Field Clear 

Maintenance isn’t just about checking the drain field every few years. Keeping the leach field in top condition also means keeping things that may compromise it away from the area. One way to do this is by preventing cars or other vehicles from parking or driving over the drain field. This is important because anything heavy on top of the drain field can crush the pipes below it or cause the soil to compress, which prevents it from absorbing wastewater properly.

Another thing to keep away from the drain field is tree roots. Septic system experts always advise homeowners to plant trees far from the leach field. This distance is carefully calculated to ensure tree roots do not get into the pipes, which may block them and prevent wastewater from draining properly. If, for some reason, tree roots do begin to encroach on the drain field, it’s possible to put up root barriers around the field. A tree root barrier should block tree roots from getting into the area where the drain field pipes are located.

Watch What You Put Down The Drain

septicSimilar to what homeowners should be doing to prevent clogging their drains, leach field maintenance also requires homeowners to watch what they flush and pour down their sinks and into the pipes. Toilets are only meant to accommodate human waste and minimal toilet paper, while kitchen sinks aren’t meant to handle food waste, even with a food grinder installed. Corrosive materials like antifreeze, automotive fluids, gas, oils, and other fatty substances that can re-solidify in the pipes will greatly damage the drain field.

Professionals recommend keeping all of these substances away from the pipes because they will eventually make their way to the drain field and impact the delicate balance of healthy bacteria that is needed to decompose waste material. Toxic chemicals can also enter the groundwater and contaminate the drinking water supply.

About Capital City Septic Services

Capital City Septic Services is a trustworthy septic system services company serving the Tallahassee community. This family-owned and operated business offers fast, friendly, and professional service with an excellent price point and upfront estimates that help homeowners solve their septic system problems with the least hassle and confusion. Call them today for reliable septic services in Tallahassee, FL.

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Septic Drain Field Warning Signs and Problem Indicators

How the Drain Field Can Affect the Whole Septic System

The septic drain field is one of the most important parts of the entire septic system. It is a system of perforated pipes that allows the septic system to drain into the surrounding ground. At the right time, the wastewater from the septic tank flows into the drain field pipes and is released.

It is the last step in the septic system, and its proper function is vital to keeping the whole disposal process running smoothly. Problems with the drain field will show up not only in the area of the drain field but also throughout the system.

Drains Throughout the House are Slower

One key indicator of a problem with the drain field is that all the drains are slower, but slow draining doesn’t necessarily mean a home needs drain field repair. An average clog can cause similar problems, but a professional can determine the reason for the slow drain. When there is a problem in the drain field, there is no place for the wastewater to go, and this is what can happen:

  • Water will stay in the septic tank.
  • The rising water will fill the pipes when the septic tank is full.
  • Attempts to flush or drain may cause a sewer backup.
  • If not a backup, there can be a breakage in the pipes or the septic tank.

If the drains are slow, there is still time to correct the problem before major damage occurs.

Puddles With No Rain and Lush Grass

puddlesIf a clog is not the problem, but a cracked drain field pipe is, then the indicators will be different. Leaks in the drain field pipe can produce a few signs like:

  • Puddles: When standing water is in the yard, it doesn’t necessarily mean it has been raining. It may be seeping up from the cracked drain field pipes.
  • Spongy Ground: If the ground feels swampy or squishy, there may be a leak in the drain field.
  • Increased Plant Growth: If the grass or plant life in the drain field area seems greener or faster growing than the surrounding grass or plants, they’re likely getting an extra rich water supply from a leak.

Sewage Smell

foul odorOne of the most unpleasant results of a drain field problem is the occurrence of foul odors. The smell of the sewage outside or inside can indicate an issue. A septic system professional should be consulted in this case, whether the scent is very strong or only mild.

Foul odors can be an indicator that the septic tank is flowing too much into the drain field too freely. This can result from several different problems, not just the drain field. If a homeowner calls their septic service professional early, the issue can be more easily corrected, and repair may not have to be as extensive.

About Capital City Septic Services

Capital City Septic Services is a family-owned and operated company serving the residents of Tallahassee, FL, and the surrounding areas for over 30 years. They provide weekend services, personalized solutions, and fast responses. Call them today for drain field repair and maintenance services in Tallahassee, FL.