Prince William County VA septic tank drainfields don’t get the credit they should. They’re a component of the system that most people don’t think about until or unless there’s a problem, but problems in the drainfield can be every bit as detrimental to the proper functioning of your system that problems in the tank itself can be.
In this piece, we’ll explore some of the more common problems you might encounter with Prince William County VA septic tank drainfields, and outline what you can do about them. The good news is that many of these problems are easy to avoid and usually relatively inexpensive to correct.
Excess Water In Your System
Water plays an important role in the proper functioning of your septic system. After all, every time you turn on a faucet or flush you toilet, you’re introducing water into the system, so how can water be problematic?
It comes down to the introduction of too much water, too quickly in Prince William County VA septic tank drainfields. Soil, no matter its quality or characteristics, can only handle so much water at once. Exceed that limit, and the soil becomes supersaturated. Any excess has no place to go and winds up pooling on the surface.
Excess water can enter your drainfield by any number of roads. You could leave your faucet running on purpose. You could have a toilet the runs constantly, or you could have a slow drip that constantly adds water to your system.
Those problems are all easy to fix. Ultimately it comes down to developing good water usage habits and fixing plumbing problems quickly when you find them.
There’s another thing to consider though, with excess water getting into Prince William County VA septic tank drainfields, and it’s something that not many people think about. The downspouts connected to the gutters on your home.
At first glance, that might seem silly and counterintuitive, given the fact that those two things aren’t connected and shouldn’t impact each other, but they can. Consider the following scenario: If your downspouts are pointed toward your drainfield, then every time it rains, all the runoff from your roof is flooding into your drainfield.
That can quickly and easily overwhelm the system. When that happens, any liquids flowing into the drainfield from your septic tank have nowhere to go, so they mingle with the standing water already pooling in the drainfield, creating a smelly sludge that’s going to sit there, possibly for days, until the drainfield can work it all off.
During that time, it poses an ideal breeding ground for a variety of pests and represents a potential health hazard for you and your family. Again, this is a problem that’s easily corrected. Mindfulness is key, but if that’s not enough, then it’s usually a simple matter to construct a drainage system that will divert the water from the roof of your house to some other part of your property where it won’t cause any harm.
This is another significant problem that’s centered on your drainfield. It happens as a result of pouring grease down the drain of one of the sinks in your home. When you do that, some of the grease will remain in the tank. If it’s something you do on a regular basis, this will lead to a crowding out effect where your tank becomes increasingly less able to process wastes. That, in turn, will result in you having to have the tank pumped out at more frequent intervals.
Some of the grease though, will wind up escaping the tank. When it does, it will make its way to the drainfield where it will rise to the surface and harden, creating a grease cap. When that happens, the drainfield can’t do its job because it needs a good supply of oxygen to function, and the cap denies it that resource.
The good news is that this is also a fairly simple fix. If you’re already suffering from grease capping then it’s probably a good idea to have your tank pumped out, you’ll definitely need to have the drainfield repaired, and of course, it pays to develop better habits going forward to keep it from happening in the future.
Another common problem, this one happens naturally, due to the simple passage of time. Odds are excellent that when you first purchased your property, part of the due diligence you did was to hire a septic service company to come out and perform a perc test. ‘Perc’ is short for percolation, and is a measure of how quickly the soil in your drainfield can process a given volume of water.
Over time, the drainfield’s ability to perc will decline as the soil becomes more compact. That will happen more quickly if you drive cars, trucks, heavy equipment or recreational vehicles over the drainfield.
As with the other problems we’ve talked about so far, the fix is fairly straightforward. Minimize vehicle traffic over the drainfield and periodically have the soil in that part of your yard aerated to keep the field functioning at or near peak efficiency.
Septic system problems, no matter their cause or their source, are serious matters. If they’re not corrected right away, it could result in your system becoming totally nonfunctional, which will ultimately see you dealing with the nightmare scenario of raw sewage backing up into your home. Don’t let it come to that. Give us a call at the first sign of trouble!