Signs Your Septic Leach Field is Failing

Without the knowledge that comes with a plumbing license (and years of training), it’s likely difficult for the average homeowner to establish whether or not the septic tank is failing. Your septic tank is used to treat and dispose of waste from your household. That waste leaves your home and enters a leach field, or septic drain field, which is an underground facility used to remove impurities from liquids that emerge after moving through the septic tank. Sounds pretty complicated, doesn’t it?

Luckily, there are a few signs you can keep an eye out for which will indicate a failure in the septic tank, and if you spot them early enough, you could save yourself some very costly repairs by calling in the professionals as soon as possible.

Here are a few signs that your septic leach field isn’t functioning properly:

  • Your toilets and drains in your house are backing up – Of course, this can happen simply because your septic tank needs to be emptied, but it could also signify a failure in your leach field.
  • Your toilets are slow to flush – If the toilets in your home are flushing slower than usual, it could mean that your septic tank is filling with sludge. When your leach field isn’t working, the waste leaving your home cannot be processed causing a build-up of sludge and resulting in slow-flushing toilets. 
  • Sinks and bathtubs are also draining slowly – Ordinarily, a slow draining sink or bathtub might indicate a blockage somewhere in the pipe, which is a fairly easy fix for a professional. But paired with other warning signs, slow draining sinks, and bathtubs could be a symptom of a larger problem within your septic system.
  • There’s standing water building up near your drain field – If water is pooling around your septic tank or drain field, it’s the biggest indicator that your septic tank is flooded which may be the result of a failing leach field. Standing water is caused when the water in your septic tank has nowhere to go after being treated and processed. Even if you don’t have water collecting around your septic system, keep an eye out for grass that is darker and greener than anywhere else in your yard. While we usually think of green grass as a good thing, if it’s only concentrated around your septic tank, you’re likely looking at the start of a backed-up system and should call a professional as soon as you notice it.
  • You notice a smell of sewage near your septic tank – Aside from the obvious visuals of a flooded septic as mentioned above, the smell that is associated with a backed-up septic tank is probably the most noticeable sign that something is wrong. Your septic tank and your leach field should be completely odor-free – both inside and outside of your home. When you smell odors surrounding your septic tank, they are caused by carbon dioxide, methane, and hydrogen sulfide, which are all found in household waste. The smell is usually compared to that of rotten eggs and is very unpleasant and an obvious sign that something isn’t functioning properly. And it’s not just unpleasant to smell, backed up sewage is a threat to the health and safety of you, your family, and anyone in the vicinity. For that reason, it’s important to call the professionals for an emergency assessment and potential septic leach field replacement. 

There are several reasons that your leach field could fail, some of which could be less expensive to repair than others. For instance, if your leach field has simply become saturated by too much water going down the drain or through the floodwater on the drain field (yes, there is such a thing as flooding your septic with too much water – try to conserve where you can), it may be possible for the drain field to be dried out and rehabilitated. But more often than not, the causes of a failed leach field are likely related to an overload of solid materials entering the system (such as when your septic system is too small for the size of your household) or it could just be that this particular component of the septic system has simply reached its capacity. In either situation, it’s likely that you’ll need to have a replacement leach field installed by a professional. This can be a costly repair which is why it’s so important to catch the signs of a failing septic system as early as possible so the professionals, like the friendly and knowledgeable experts at Lion Home Service, can resolve the problem quickly, efficiently, and in a way that is most cost-effective for you. Want to get ahead of the curve and have your septic system evaluated before you start to notice any warning signs? Give us a call to book a septic evaluation appointment today! (970) 829-8222