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SEPTIC SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR
SEPTIC CARE INSTRUCTIONS
SEPTIC D-BOX INSPECTION
SEPTIC DRAINFIELD FAILURE DIAGNOSIS
SEPTIC DYE TEST PROCEDURE
SEPTIC FAILURE SIGNS
SEPTIC INSPECTION & TEST GUIDE
SEPTIC LIFE EXPECTANCY
SEPTIC SUPPLIES & PARTS
SEPTIC SYSTEM DESIGN ALTERNATIVES
SEPTIC SYSTEM DESIGN BASICS
SEPTIC SYSTEMS, HOME BUYERS GUIDE to
SEPTIC SYSTEM SAFETY WARNINGS
SEPTIC TREATMENTS & CHEMICALS
SEWAGE BACKUP PREVENTION
SEWAGE EJECTOR / GRINDER PUMPS
SEWER GAS ODORS
SEWER LINE REPLACEMENT
SINKHOLES, WARNING SIGNS
SOAKAWAY BED FAILURE DIAGNOSIS
SULPHUR & SEWER GAS SMELL SOURCES
TOILETS, INSPECT, INSTALL, REPAIR
TRAPS on PLUMBING FIXTURES
TREATMENTS & CHEMICALS, SEPTIC
VIDEO GUIDES: Septic Videos
WATER CONSERVATION MEASURES
WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
WATER SUPPLY & DRAIN PIPING
WATER, WELLS, WATER TANKS: TESTING GUIDE
WASHING MACHINES & SEPTIC SYSTEMS
WASTEWATER TREATMENT BASICS
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
This article explains how we determine the Life Expectancy of a Septic Drainfield ? How long should a leachfield last? - among the types of septic system failure in the drain field, leach field, seepage bed, or similar component. We list the causes of each type of septic component failure, and list the septic component failure criteria or in other words what conditions are defined as "failure"?
How can you distinguish between a blocked pipe, a septic tank that needs pumping, and a clogged drainfield that needs replacement? This is an important question as it distinguishes between relatively low cost maintenance or repair task and a costly septic leach field replacement.
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Septic System DRAINFIELD LIFE Expectancy - What destroys or shortens the life of the absorption system?
We have seen drain fields still working fine after 25 years and others which failed in the first week of occupancy of a new home. In a properly designed septic absorption field the level of usage of the system, site characteristics such as slope, rock, groundwater level, and soil percolation rate have all been considered.
Also see CLOGGED DRAIN DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR where we include in table form: DRAIN DRAINFIELD DIAGNOSTIC TABLE. Also see SEWER BACKUP PREVENTION. And to repair drain clogs, see BLOCKED DRAIN REPAIR METHODS. To understand why a drainfield or soakaway bed ultimately clogs up and stops working also see SEPTIC BIOMATS.
Barring foul ups such as we discuss in this document, such a field may last from 10 to 20 years. USDA sources assert that a properly operated and maintained ST/SAS (septic tank / soil absorption system) should last at least 20 years.
But it's easy to ruin or shorten the life of a drainfield/leaching bed. In fact the same USDA source states that
Similar studies of advanced wastewater treatment systems such as aerobic systems, sand beds, mound systems similarly found that improper or inadequate operation and maintenance were the primary causes of premature failure of those systems as well.
Notice that our sketch at above left specifies 2-4 feet clearance between the bottom of the drainfield trench and the seasonal high water table. Code requirements on this distance vary, but the point is that even if septic effluent appears to be successfully disposed-of, it may not be adequately treated if the drainfield is not constructed properly. Image (above left) courtesy USDA.
For a better view of the probable life of a specific drainfield at a specific property you'd want to know the
DISPOSAL CLOGGING FAILURES
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Technical Reviewers & References
Related Topics, found near the top of this page suggest articles closely related to this one.
Design Manuals for Septic Systems
Onsite Wastewater Disposal Books