Tips to Unclog Your Septic Drainage Field

If you have a septic system, then you also have a drainage field. Septic drainage fields allow water and fluid wastes to flow out of the septic tank so the tank does not fill with water. Drainage fields are made up of channels that run beneath the earth. Each channel contains a perforated pipe made from PVC or polyethylene, and the pipes slowly release water into the ground. Sometimes, fluids do not seep into the ground like they should. This often occurs due to a clogging issue. If all the drains in your home are slow, if you hear gurgling or bubbling sounds from the drains, or if your yard seems wet near the field, then the drainage field is likely clogged. You can help to unclog the system with the tips below.

Stop Flushing Chemicals Down Your Drain

Your septic drainage field will have something called a biomat that sits in the earth just below the pipes of the system. The biomat is a layer of sludge that contains a great deal of bacteria. These microorganisms break down the solids that enter the soil from the wastewater pipes. The solids are the fecal, food, and pathogen wastes that mix with the fluid before they exit the septic tank. 

As the solids are broken down, water and fluid wastes can drain through the soil. However, if the solids are not broken down by the bacteria for some reason, then the solids will accumulate and create a thick barrier that clogs the soil. This stops the movement of the fluids, and the wastewater will start to creep up towards the soil's surface. 

There are several reasons why the biomat across the drainage field will diminish. This often happens when the bacteria are killed off, and you can easily kill the microorganisms by continually pouring chemicals like bleach, ammonia, alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide in the drain. Antibacterial hand sanitizers and soaps that are flushed down the drain can damage the biomat as well. If you use these things and dump them in the drain regularly, then stop doing so immediately. This will allow the biomat to rebuild itself so solid wastes can be broken down again.

Reduce Water Usage

Sometimes, water usage can cause a septic drainage field to clog or become congested with fluids. It does take some time for fluids to fully drain through the soil. These fluids will typically drain down into the water table. However, the water table can only handle so much water, especially if groundwater levels have recently risen. If groundwater levels are high, then water may rise to the surface of the earth instead of moving downward. This can cause the fluid part of the septic system to back up. If it has recently rained or flooded, or if a great deal of snow has melted, then this may be the issue.

If you believe that the drainage field may be saturated, then give the field a break to allow water to evaporate and drain naturally before adding more fluid to the area. You can do this by substantially reducing your water usage. There are a few simple things you can do to conserve water.

Keep your faucet off while you brush your teeth and wash your hands. Turn on the water only when you are ready to rinse. When you heat up water for a bath or to do dishes, catch the cool or lukewarm water in a bucket while you wait. Use this water to water outdoor plants. Also, run dishwashers and washing machines only when you have a full load to clean. 

A clogged drainage field can cause serious issues with your septic system. You can work to unclog the field on your own. If you want more tips on how to keep your drainage field in good shape or if unclogging efforts have not worked for you, then make sure to contact a local septic professional such as Martin Septic Service Inc for assistance. 


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