Septic Tips | January 2020
In this edition of "Septic Tips", let's discuss some of the main reasons your septic leach field is backing up, failing and what you can do to solve your drain field problems. First of all, it seems that septic systems’ problems always come at the most hectic times. You are planning to have your only daughter’s wedding reception in your back yard next weekend and while discussing the dinner menu with the caterer in the back yard, you realize there is standing water and a distinct odor. PANIC!!! In most cases, homeowners never think about their septic system or for that matter understand how it works or even where it's located.
First and foremost, if you haven't already, find out where on your property your septic tank is located, where the distribution box to the leach line is located and the configuration of the leach line. The most common septic systems consist of a septic tank, usually around 1,000 gallons or larger that is connected to the sewage drain in your house. Connected to the septic tank is a short line that leads to a "distribution box" which in turn is connected to a series of leach lines that are buried beneath the soil and spread out to look like a giant pitch fork. These lines are perforated with holes that allow the effluent or waste liquid to move down into the soil below the leach line and seep downward. The septic tank is baffled so that solids fall to the bottom and form a sludge layer and the liquid runs out thru the distribution box to the leach line.
Everything is fine until the septic tank is full of solids, in which case you call a septic pumper to pump out the tank; or something goes wrong with your drain field or leach line system. This simple system is known as a passive system, where there is no external energy or mechanical components required to make it function.
In most cases, when your leach line backs up it's because the liquid effluent is not allowed to infiltrate into the soil profile below the leach line. This is usually caused by a buildup of salts that causes the soil particles to seal up and prevent the liquid from infiltrating into the soil. Several things end up in your septic tank, including solids (human waste), hair, toilet tissue and liquid waste containing salt mostly from phosphate-type detergents extremely high in salt or sodium. In a healthy leach field, around and below the line itself are two types of bacteria that help to break down the effluent. Aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, which we will discuss at length in another edition of "Septic Tips". The septic tank itself also holds certain types of bacteria that are required for the digestion of solids.
What can you do in the case we just described to solve a backed-up leach field caused by no or very slow water infiltration? As we mentioned above, salt is usually the culprit, so the answer is very simple. Remove the sodium particles and allow the soil to open up and allow the liquid to flow thru the soil profile. OK! How is that accomplished? The easiest way is to apply a 100% totally soluble form of calcium and sulfur. The salt or sodium is a single-charged cation and calcium is a double charged cation. Calcium is the "MEAN DOG" in the junk yard when it comes to removing and leaching salt from the soil profile. Sulfur aids in the fact that it goes thru a chemical and physical reaction in the soil and releases available calcium already in the soil so it can begin removing sodium as well. You get a "double whammy" by applying soluble calcium and sulfur together.
There is a new product available called Leach Life that contains soluble calcium and sulfur and special emulsifiers to break down grease in your septic system. It is completely "Green" and safe and can be applied thru the sink or toilet in your house or for best results directly into the distribution box leading to your leach line. Applied according to label directions, you will see immediate results in improved water infiltration. No need to spend thousands of dollars redoing a leach field or septic system when for a few dollars you can reestablish good drainage and keep it up with a simple maintenance program using Leach Life. Leach Life Plus, a sister product contains EBC, or enzyme and bacteria concentrate combined in one application, that helps breakdown solids in your septic tank and leach line.