Gainesville VA septic tank drainfields don’t get nearly the attention they deserve. The reality is though, that they’re an important, if often underappreciated component of any home septic system.
When most people think of their home septic systems, they almost always think about the tank itself. That’s where the action is after all, right? The answer to that question is both yes and no. There’s no doubt that a significant portion of ‘the action’ occurs in the tank itself, but in this piece, we’re going to take a closer look at Gainesville VA septic tank drainfields and the problems that can arise there that can cause real trouble for your system as a whole.
Water, Water, Everywhere
The first thing to understand about Gainesville VA septic tank drainfields is that they’re responsible for percolating wastes that have been broken down in your tank. When you purchased your home initially, you probably had a perc test done. Perc is short for percolation, and it’s a measure of how quickly a given volume of water can drain—percolate—through your soil.
Sandy soils percolate quickly. Clay soils barely percolate at all. Most soils are somewhere in between those two extremes. Of course, the soil’s ability to absorb water depends in part on how much water it has already absorbed. Introduce too much water too quickly and the soil can become supersaturated. When that happens, you get pools of standing water.
Now imagine pools of standing, stinky water in your drain field. Not a pretty mental image, right? Unfortunately, that kind of thing can happen if conditions change in your drain field.
Over time, soil tends to compact, so if the soil in your drainfield percolated well five years ago, that might not be the case today. The good news is that if the soil in Gainesville VA septic tank drainfields has become compacted, there’s a simple fix for that. Just give us a call and we can aerate the soil to loosen things back up again and get it back to behaving the way you’re accustomed to.
Here’s another common issue that can take homeowners by surprise. Their septic system was working fine and then all of a sudden, they’ve got pools of standing water in their drain field making their entire property smell like an open sewer. The only thing that changed was that they put new gutters on the side of the house, but surely that didn’t have anything to do with it…
Except that it might have.
Again, the soil in your yard can only handle so much water at a time. When those new gutters were installed, if care wasn’t taken to angle the downspouts away from your drainfield, every time it rains, the runoff from your roof is flowing into the drainfield, supersaturating your soil. When effluent hits the drainfield on top of that from your tank, it’s got nowhere to go, so it just sits there, stinking up your entire property.
Not only does it smell awful, it’s also a genuine health hazard. The good news is that there’s a simple fix for that too. Simply point those downspouts well away from the drainfield and give it a few days to dry out and it should be good to go again.
A lot of people don’t really think much about what they flush down their toilet or pour down their sink, but if you have a septic system, it really matters because ultimately, you’re the one who has to deal with the consequences. They don’t just wash downstream. Everything you pour down the drain or flush away winds up in your tank.
Grease is a great example of this. Pour grease into your septic tank and here’s what’s going to happen: Some of the grease is going to remain in the tank where it will progressively serve to clog the system up, resulting in the need for more frequent tank pump outs than would otherwise be necessary.
Some of that grease though, is going to escape the tank and end up in your drainfield. Once it’s there, it’s going to rise to the surface of your drainfield and harden, forming a hard shell or grease cap in your yard.
The problem with that is that in order to process waste effectively, your drainfield needs oxygen. It can’t get oxygen if the ground is covered by an impenetrable covering of grease. If the tank can’t process waste, it floods into your drainfield and doesn’t leave, which slowly turns your back yard into a smelly, swampy mire.
Don’t let any of the things we talked about above happen to you. Septic system issues are more than a simple inconvenience, they can make you and your family genuinely sick if you don’t take quick, decisive action.
We recommend having your tank pumped out and your home septic system inspected every three to five years in order to minimize your risk. If we find any problems with your system, even if they’re small and in their formative stages, we can give you our report on it, a professional recommendation and a free, no obligation estimate so you’ll know exactly what it will take to fix the issue.
Then, assuming you’re comfortable with our estimate, we’ll get the work done, giving you greater peace of mind and helping to ensure that your system provides you with years of hassle free service. If that sounds good to you, give our office a call today.