Household waste-water flows through drainpipes into a sewer pipe to the septic tank. Once solids sink to the bottom of the septic tank and form a sludge layer, liquid then exits through a pipeline out to the leach field. The water soaks through the gravel bed of the leach field where it is absorbed. If effluent cannot penetrate through the soil, a leach field will fail and sewage waste will back up in the septic tank and eventually into your home. The problem then becomes how to restore flow to the leach field.
Decrease the load on the leach field. Take steps to conserve water until the septic system is restored. Inspect plumbing inside the home and repair any dripping faucets or leaky toilets. Wash only full loads of laundry and take short showers. A practical preventive measure is to increase capacity of the leach field to meet current use of the septic system.
Put less waste into the septic tank. Do not use the garbage disposal; compost food scraps instead. Do not flush tissues, paper towels or kitty litter down the toilet. Use only biodegradable toilet tissue.
Keep the soil near the leach field from getting too wet. The goal is to prevent groundwater from building up under a leach field. A leach field should be located in an area where the groundwater is not too high. Avoid planting a vegetable garden over a drain field. Irrigating the soil located near or over a leach field adds extra water and can interfere with evaporation of effluent. It also helps to divert gray water from the washing machine, bathtub and showers to a separate leach field.
Pump the septic tank every three to five years or as needed so that water from inside the home continues to drain. This prevents solids from blocking the inlet and outlet baffles on the septic tank. Paying several hundred dollars every few years for routine maintenance can save you many thousands of dollars if a clogged leach field needs to be replaced.
Clear blockages caused by tree roots growing into leach field pipelines. Hire a professional plumbing service to do the job as using chemicals could damage the septic system. Large trees should be located more than 10 feet away from the drain field area.