Septic Drain Field Inspection Procedure
How to Inspect the Soil Absorption System or Septic Drainfield for Evidence of Septic System Failure
     

  • SEPTIC DRAINFIELD INSPECTION & TEST - CONTENTS: Drainfield or soakaway bed inspection & test methods: types of septic system drain field or leach bed failure, how to detect & diagnose drainfield failures, wet spots, odors. Cause of septic system component failures; Definitions of septic failure for each componen. List of Articles Describing Causes & Detection of Septic System Failures
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about how to inspect septic system soakaway beds, drainfields, leaching beds
  • REFERENCES

InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.

This article discusses 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. We also discuss what can be planted over and near a septic drainfield and what should be avoided.

Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2015 InspectApedia.com, All Rights Reserved.

Absorption Field Failure Causes of drainfields and leaching beds

Septic drainfield cross section sketchArticle Series Contents

  • SEPTIC DRAINFIELD INSPECTION & TEST - this article
  • PLUMBING DRAIN NOISE DIAGNOSIS - separate article
  • SEPTIC DISPOSAL FIELD CLOGGING INSPECTION - separate article
  • SEPTIC DRAINFIELD FAILURE CAUSES - separate article
  • SEPTIC DRAINFIELD FAILURE DIAGNOSIS - separate article
  • SEPTIC ODORS INDICATING DRAINFIELD FAILURE - separate article
  • [Click to enlarge any image]

    Here are the causes of soakaway bed or disposal field failures:

    • Soil clogging at the biomat layer which forms below and around the drainfield trenches (or other absorption systems).

      The biomat is a bacteria layer which forms in soil below and around drainfield trenches where septic effluent or wastewater is discharged.

      This layer is critical in the processing of fine biological solids and pathogens which are in the effluent, and without it the septic system would not be adequately treating the effluent. Inadequately-treated effluent released into the ground risks contamination of nearby ponds, wells, streams, etc. Also see SOIL CONDITIONS.
    • Driving over the absorption system, leach field, drainfield. Also see DRIVING or PARKING OVER SEPTIC.
    • Paving over the absorption system
    • Flooding the absorption system with surface or roof runoff, or rocky, poorly-drained or under-sized sites may simply lack capacity
    • Use of septic tank or drain field additives which claim to extend system life can generate so much activity in the tank that solids are held in suspension and forced into the soil absorption system! Do not add any treatments, chemicals, yeast, or other treats to a septic system. In general these treatments don't work, may ruin the system, and are illegal in many localities. There is no magic bullet to repair a bad SAS. Also see SEPTIC TREATMENTS & CHEMICALS.
    • Improper original construction , especially on rocky, poorly-drained sites (pipes settle, for example)
    • Houses clustered around a lake: often will have a marginal system as properties were crowded together, built as part-time summer-camps, were built without code supervision, and often were built using amateur, marginal home-made systems.
    • Age: eventually even a well-maintained SAS will clog and have to be replaced.

    Soil Absorption System Failure Criteria

    • Breakout of effluent observed (& I consider odors as well)
    • BOH evaluation in MA if within 100 ft of surface water supply
    • within Zone 1 of a public well
    • within 50ft of a private well
    • between 50ft and 100ft of a private well if well fails bacteria test.

    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.

    These pages are part of our SEPTIC DYE TEST PROCEDURE for testing septic system function. Technical review by industry experts has been performed and is ongoing - reviewers are listed at REFERENCES.

     

    Continue reading at SEPTIC DISPOSAL FIELD CLOGGING INSPECTION or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.

    Or see PLUMBING DRAIN NOISE DIAGNOSIS

    Suggested citation for this web page

    SEPTIC DRAINFIELD INSPECTION & TEST at InspectApedia.com - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

    More Reading

    Green link shows where you are in this article series.

    ...




    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    Click to Show or Hide FAQs

    Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia

    Questions & answers or comments about how to inspect a septic leachfield or soakaway bed for evidence of failures, effluent breakout, dye test failure, or odors & clogging.

    Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.

    Search the InspectApedia website

    HTML Comment Box is loading comments...

    Technical Reviewers & References

    Publisher's Google+ Page by Daniel Friedman

    Click to Show or Hide Citations & References