septic system leach field diagram

General Information

Treat Your Leach Field as Sacred Ground ...

  • Do not place anything over your leach field that requires spikes to be placed in the ground — these spikes could damage your leach field.
  • Do not drive over your leach field or allow anything heavier than a lawn tractor over it — the weight could cause damage.
  • Do not plant anything over your leach field — the root growth could clog your septic pipes.

If your tank is deeper than 2 feet in the ground, you may want to consider having a riser installed. A riser allows easy access to your tank and saves you the burden of digging to expose the septic cover or paying a digging fee at every service.

Questions and Answers

Q: How Can I Conserve Water and Protect My Septic System?

A: In general the less water you use, the better your septic system works.

  • Avoid flushing for trivial reasons.
  • Plug the bathroom sink when washing or shaving instead of running the faucet. Similarly, do not let water run while brushing your teeth.
  • Repair dripping faucets and toilet leaks — these can mean gallons of water wasted in a short time.
  • Take showers instead of baths, and limit your time.
  • We recommend that you add 10 packages of yeast with 2-3 cups sugar 1 week after our service to reactivate the bacteria in your tank. Just flush down the toilet or pour down any drain. Repeat this every 6 months.

Q: How Can I Protect My Septic System from Failure?

A: Consider the following tips:

  • Avoid excess use of strong cleaning agents, bleach, or septic system additives. Do not put paint or potentially toxic chemicals down the sink drain into your tank.
  • Do not allow water softener waste brine to enter your septic tank — the salt clogs the leach field, reducing its life.
  • Use liquid detergent rather than powder, and use single-ply toilet paper. 2 ply septic safe toilet paper may create septic problems.
  • Cigarette butts, hair, facial tissues, paper towels, bandages, feminine products, baby wipes, dental floss, etc. belong in the garbage, not in the toilet.
  • Grease does not break down in the septic tank. Cooking grease should be placed in a can and then into the garbage.
  • Avoid garbage disposal units since they add unnecessary solids into the septic tank. If you choose to use a garbage disposal, the increase in solids stored in the tank makes it necessary to empty your tank more frequently. Under these circumstances we recommend you empty your septic tank at least once a year.
  • Be wary of commercial items that claim to clean septic tanks or cesspools or improve their functioning. If problems arise, investigate the cause before using chemical products.

Q: How Do I Know If My System is Failing?

A: Here are some signs of septic system problems.

  • Signs of septic system problems include: toilets backing up; drains that will not drain; foul odors around septic tank and leach field; excessive moisture; surface waste water over leach field; and lush vegetation over leach field.
  • Regular maintenance must be performed on all on-site septic systems if they are to function satisfactorily. Settled solids (septage) accumulate in the septic tank or cesspool and must be pumped, on average, every two years depending on usage.
Average family - empty tank every 2 years
Large family - empty tank every year
One Adult - empty tank every 4 years
Two Adults - empty tank every 3 years

Q: Why is Septic Maintance Important?

A: There are several reasons.

  • Here is a simple explanation of why a septic tank needs to be emptied:
    Think of a septic tank as an underground dumpster. As solids in your dumpster (septic tank) become too high, you need to empty the dumpster (septic tank). Since you don't have the equipment to do this yourself, you hire us. Emptying the tank prevents the level of solids from becoming too high, exiting the tank, and clogging your leach field.

  • Pumping and cleaning your septic tank on a regular maintenance schedule helps your leach field last longer and work more effectively.
  • Unexpected backups can result in costly cleanups.
  • A septic maintenance history may help with your home’s resale value.
  • The average replacement cost of a new septic system runs $10,000 - $25,000.
  • Failed septic systems are unhealthy, environmentally unsafe, and illegal.

Q: What Does a Septic Odor Mean?

A: It may be a simple repair, but call our office if you have questions or concerns.

  • Odors inside the house, without a visible backup, are often the result of a venting issue.
  • Often water evaporates in minimally used open plumbing pipes and drains, allowing septic odors to enter the house. Check all your open plumbing items such as sinks, tub drains, shower drains and washing machines and make sure that the plumbing pipes have water in them. Add water to plumbing items if needed, as this creates a barrier between the septic odors from the tank and your home.
  • Check all plumbing and vent pipes, making sure that they are intact. Confirm that the seals are secure and are preventing fumes from entering the house.
  • Odors outside the house, without a visible backup, may be caused by a down draft from the house roof vent pipe or from the PVC vent pipe at your leach field.
  • If you have visible septage inside or outside your house, STOP USING WATER and call our office as soon as you can.

Q: What are Signs of a Septic Emergency and What Do I Do?

A: There are many signs that you are experiencing a septic emergency or that one maybe brewing.

  • If you think you are having a septic emergency STOP USING WATER and call our office as soon as you can.

Symptoms of a septic emergency may include:

  • Visible septage inside or outside your house
  • A toilet that is running slow or needs a second flush
  • Drains (sinks, showers, washing machines) that are not working as well as they used to
  • Pump or filter alarms that are sounding
  • Pooling septage over the septic tank — this could result from a clogged line, clogged filter or a problem with the leach field
  • Pooling septage over leach field — this could be a broken pipe or a failing system