Definitions of Septic System Failure

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Criteria for defining septic system failure: this septic system inspection and test article discusses the Definition of Septic System Failure - septic system failure criteria - 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"?

We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.

Onsite Waste Disposal System Septic System Failure Criteria

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.

Massachusetts Title 5 lists specific failure criteria and serves as a good model for septic inspections anywhere.

Septic drainfield cross section sketch

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Cesspool failure criteria


Soil Absorption System Failures (leach fields, drain fields, seepage pits)

FAILURE CRITERIA - Soil Absorption System Failure Criteria - Drainfield Failure Standards

Since homeowners may receive vague advice about the condition of their septic system, here we present specific failure criteria for septic systems. For alternative septic system designs or advanced septic systems using more specialized equipment, a failure of that equipment is more often a needed repair than a total system failure.

The most basic definition of septic system failure would be a septic system that will no longer treat and dispose of septic effluent. A "blocked" septic system may or may not be a "failed" system - it depends on the cause of blockage. Is it a blocked pipe, a clogged septic filter, or is the drainfield saturated and no longer accepting effluent?

Here are some of the specific criteria that can reliably be taken to describe a failed or non-functional septic system:

Septic Drainfield Failure Inspection Articles

These pages are part of our SEPTIC DYE TEST PROCEDURE for testing septic system function.


Continue reading at SEPTIC FAILURE LAWSUIT or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.


Or see SEPTIC CARE INSTRUCTIONS for specific advice about the septic tank

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