6 Drainfield Care Tips to Ensure Your Septic Tank Lasts Longer

Everybody that has a septic tank on their property will need to think about maintenance because septic tank failure can be disastrous on your property. Septic systems are mostly used in rural areas beyond the reach of municipal sewage collection lines. Once they are installed properly, however, you only need to do a few things to ensure they keep functioning efficiently on your property.

The leaching bed/drain field is the lifeline of your septic system: once waste is broken down to liquid and solids settle, the liquid seeps into the leaching bed where bacteria feed on organic waste and eventually clean the water. Once your drain field is saturated, your septic system will stop working properly. You can prevent this by:

  1. Fixing leaks – leaks will cause more water to flow into the septic system than you're using, increasing the likelihood of saturation

  2. Collecting rainwater – it isn't enough to have gutters; invest in a tank to collect the rainwater so that it doesn't flow into and saturate the drainfield. This water can be used for cleaning and irrigation, reducing your external consumption. If not, redirect water from gutters to flow away from the drainfield

  3. Pump when necessary – plan to pump out the septic tank after particularly high usage, such as after a party in the house. Additionally, pumping can reduce the levels in the tank and hence decrease the load on the draining field. Every few years, the entire tank needs to be pumped dry and allowed to refill over time

  4. Avoid chemicals – detergents and abrasive cleaning agents kill off the good bacteria that decompose waste into harmless products. In time, your drainfield becomes less effective. Substitute with natural alternatives or find alternative disposal for soapy wastewater. This also applies to chemicals like paint, thinner, varnish and petroleum products

  5. Lower consumption – install low-consumption fixtures – taps, showerheads, toilet cisterns – and be conscious about water usage to reduce wastewater generated. Wait to do full loads of laundry instead of running half-loads

  6. Keep trees away – tree roots will interfere with the natural flora and fauna of your leaching bed; plan the location such that roots do not grow into the drainfield. This is especially important for trees with aggressive rooting systems like willows

If there's a problem with your septic system, DO NOT attempt to fix it yourself. Even opening the manhole cover can release fumes which can make you unconscious, and you could easily fall in. Don't go into a septic tank without protective gear that includes breathing apparatus, even to help someone that fell in. You can attempt to pull them out using a stick or rope instead, but after you've asked for professional assistance. Mark off the location of the tank lid, and ensure children never play near it ensure the lid is installed firmly so that a child won't lift it off easily.