What Is a Leach Field and How Does It Work?

Have you contacted a septic company to help solve your system’s problems, only to hear them talking about leach field replacement or repairs and not understand what they meant? Also known as drainfield, the leach field is an often invisible sewage treatment system component.
It is an underground system of lines or pipes surrounded by gravel, sand, or permeable soil. Other septic system components are the septic tank and the distribution box or chamber. Although septic systems without leach field exist, they are often more expensive and not a viable solution for many homes.

How Does a Leach Field Work?

The lines or pipes in the septic leach field have small holes along their sides and bottom. As the wastewater flows through the pipes, it leaches into the gravel, sand, or soil surrounding them. The solid waste remains in the septic tank, stopped by a filter. The bacteria in the leach field septic layer then digest the organic materials, purifying the wastewater.

What Is the Best Leach Field Distance From Your House?

The drainfield is usually emplaced in an open, flat area close to the house. The actual distance may vary according to the property’s layout and the systems’ specifics. It is best to make the decision with the help of a specialist.
The goal is to have the leach field close enough to the house so as to avoid unnecessary piping expenses but far enough to prevent water infiltration into the house’s walls. Other factors, such as soil composition, tree roots, sloping requirements, and more should be taken into account in the septic system design and leach field design as well.
Consulting a specialist is the best way to make sure all these will be accounted for and obtain answers to other questions you would have a hard time answering by yourself, such as:

  • Can you have a septic tank without a leach field?
  • How does a septic tank and leach field work?
  • How deep is a leach field typically installed?
  • What are the minimum leach field maintenance requirements?
  • How long should a leach field last?

… and more. The bottom line is that it takes more than knowing the leach field definition and consulting a leach field size chart to get a functioning system. It takes even more to know how to fix leach field problems.

Typical Septic System Leach Field Problems

Generally, most septic system problems can be traced back to the drainfield. Sometimes, solid waste or wastewater builds up on the soil at the leach field bottom, plugging it up and preventing proper drainage. This usually happens when:

  • You’re draining chemicals, paint, grease, and other complex substances that are difficult to filter
  • The quantity of wastewater to be processed exceeds the system’s capacity
  • The top layer of the drainfield was damaged by construction works or vehicles
  • Excessive rainfall or snow contributed to the amount of water to be filtered
  • Plant and tree roots interfere with the pipes
  • The pipes are old and rusty, cracked, or fissured

Another cause of drainfield problems is lack of regular septic tank pumping, to remove sludge. The recommended frequency for interventions is every two years but, depending on size and household needs, even more frequent septic pumping interventions may be necessary.
But if your drainfield shows signs of trouble, it is never a good idea to take matters into your own hands. Instead, you should think about how to find leach field specialists and let them take care of the issue.
Look no further than EcoSeptic, one of the best-reputed septic service companies in Westport, Fairfield, Trumbull, Shelton, and Newtown, CT, area. Contact us at (203) 293-0832 or online and we will gladly answer all your questions and provide the advice and services you need!

What Types of Septic Systems Are There and What Do They Offer?

Before you hire septic installation services, you need to decide what type of septic systems suits your needs best. This decision will have important repercussions, influencing the septic system design, the septic system installation requirements, efficiency, and more. To help you choose, in the following lines we will review five different types of septic systems and their specifics.

1. Septic Tanks

A septic tank is a watertight tank buried in your backyard, which receives and partially treats raw domestic sanitary water. As the solid wastes settle on the bottom and the grease and lighter solids rise to the top, the in-between wastewater is discharged to the drainfield, where it is further treated and dispersed. The septic tank is an important component in other types of septic systems. It can also be turned into an aerobic system by connecting it to an air pump. The latter injects oxygen into the tank, increasing bacterial activity and, implicitly, wastewater treatment.

2. Conventional Systems

These are wastewater treatment assemblies formed of a septic tank system connected to a drainfield or subsurface wastewater infiltration system. The water from the tank is piped to a shallow trench of gravel or stone, built right beneath the ground surface. The trench is covered with geofabric, to prevent dist, sand, and other contaminants from infiltrating.
The wastewater is filtered as it passes through the gravel or stone layer, hence the name of “infiltrator septic system”, and further treated by the microbes in the soil underneath the trench. Although these systems have been successfully installed and used for decades, they are not always a viable solution. The drainfield tends to have a rather large footprint, which makes it unsuitable for many homes.

3. Chamber Systems

Widely used since the 1970s, gravelless drain fields are nowadays a popular alternative to conventional gravel septic types. There are various options available, from open-bottom chambers and fabric-wrapped pipes, to synthetic materials like expanded polystyrene. It is important to note that it is possible to build gravelless systems using recycled materials and, thus, minimize impact on the environment.
The chamber system is a gravelless system. Its main strengths are delivery and construction ease. These septic systems can be installed in areas with high groundwater levels and variable septic system influent volume as well, making an excellent choice for vacation homes and seasonal inns. They are also suitable for areas where gravel is difficult to find and expensive and for homeowners with readily-available plastic chambers.

4. Drip Distribution Systems

These are effluent dispersal systems suitable for several types of drainfield. They are preferred by many homeowners because they do not require large mounds of soil. Their drip laterals are placed at a depth of only 6 to 12 inches into the soil.
One disadvantage to these septic systems types is that they require that rather large dose tanks be installed after the septic tanks in order to facilitate the wastewater’s timed-dose delivery to the drip absorption areas. Another disadvantage to these septic systems would be that they require additional components, like electrical power, increasing running and maintenance costs.

5. Mound Systems

These septic systems types are more common in areas with high groundwater, shallow soil depth, and shallow bedrock. They consist of a sand mound sheltering a drainfield trench. The wastewater from the septic tank is discharged into a pump chamber from where it is pumped to the mound in preset doses and filtered through the trench and through a sand layer before being dispersed into the soil. Although mound systems are a viable solution for certain soil conditions, they take up a lot of space and require periodic maintenance.

Let Specialists Recommend the Best Septic Systems for Your Home!

Homeowners often think that just because they’ve seen a septic tank diagram or some types of septic tanks installed, they are able to make the best choice for their home. Some even go as far as looking up information on how to install a septic system and consider taking matters into their own hands.
We don’t advise that. Whether it’s a commercial or a residential project, in Westport, Fairfield, Trumbull, Shelton, or Newtown, or contact us online and one of our specialists will help you assess your home’s needs, identify the best types of septic systems for you, and estimate their installation costs.