How to properly care for your drain field

Posted on: 16 February 2016

The drain field is one of the two major components of your septic system. There's the septic tank that separates the solid wastes from the wastewater (effluent), and the drain field where the actual treatment of the wastewater occurs. In the drain field, perforated pipes are placed underground from the septic tank and spread out over a large area. Once the effluent moves through the perforations into the soil, it gets filtered as the soil absorbs bacteria and organic material. The drain field would not only be costly to repair when damaged, but also very unbearable when the stench hits the air. Here are the best ways to maintain it.

Dewater the drain field

You need to first ensure that your drain field is far from being flooded. That can cause severe issues once the effluent reaches it. The presence of too much water slows down the treatment process and septic system in general. This can in turn lead to improper flushing of toilets, or water backing up in the basement drains.

The solution is to dewater the drain field, and this simply means draining the water away. You should look for long-term solutions. A flooded area means that water doesn't have a way out, so simply hiring a service to pump the water away is a fix that doesn't solve the underlying issue. You could instead direct downspouts away from the drain field or reduce the elevation of the surrounding area.

Watch your landscaping

Landscaping over the drain field is often frowned upon. That's because most of the plants have an effect on the air exchange that's required in the drain field, and interfering with this process may reduce the drain field's effectiveness. Additionally, the roots of the plants may damage the drain lines.

However, if you have to landscape and would love some nature around that area, then you need to be extra careful. Go for plants that are not so aggressive and won't invade the lines. Herbaceous plants are a good option because they are small in size and have shallow root systems. Also remember to choose plants that have a high salt tolerance because the drain field effluent increases the salt content. Daylily and bee balms are a good choice.

Avoid using chemicals

Don't use chemicals either in your drains or close to your drain field. Pesticides, gasoline and drain cleaners are all chemicals that can seriously injure the functioning of your system. Such chemicals destroy the bacteria necessary for breaking down the effluent waste. If you intend on unblocking a drain pipe, then go for phosphate-free agents that don't have too many harsh chemicals. There are also a number of organic drain cleaners available.

For more information about dewatering, contact a company like Precision Drainage.