Septic Tank Drain Field Installation & Problems

Septic drain fields are where the fluid from the septic tank ends up. The purpose of a septic drain field (sometimes referred to as a “septic leach field”) is further purify the water by further removing impurities and contaminants. This drain field is an integral part of a fully functioning septic system. The main parts of a septic system are the septic tank, the drain field and the piping that connects everything. If you have a failing septic drain field, there are products that may be able to help. Read my review of failing septic drain field products.

The septic drain field is very good at provide a primed environment for bacteria to metabolize organic material.

Septic Drain Field Structure

The average drain field is a set of trenches that are a few feet below the surface. In the middle of the trenches, which are constructed out of gravel or another porous material, there are perforated pipes. These pipes deliver the septic effluent to the drain field from the septic tank.

The drain field is built a few feet below the surface to prevent surface water run-off from mixing with the effluent and to prevent animals from smelling the effluent and digging around in the trenches.

The two factors that must be considered when designing the septic drain field include the volume of septic effluent that will be disposed of, the amount of oxygen that the metabolism of that septic effluent will require.

The health department in your area will probably require you to have a percolation “perc” test done. This test will determine if the soil is able to sustain a drain field and successfully filter septic tank effluent. The soil has to be fine enough to filter and deactivate pathogenic viruses and bacteria while still being permeable enough to allow the filter water to percolate through to the ground water.

Depending on where you live, you may be required to hire a licensed designer or engineer to design a septic system that is approved by local government and conforms to all guidelines.

Septic Tank Drain Field Problems

If your septic tank is overfull or the bacteria are not digesting the septic effluent properly then undigested wastewater with large waste particles will be delivered to your drain field and the perforated pipes will being to clog. This is the beginning of septic system failure. At this point, it is still possible to solve the problem using septic tank drain field cleaners. Replacing a drain field can cost up to $50,000 so if you think you may be heading down that road I would call an experienced septic contractor immediately and talk to them about solving the problem. Read my review of septic tank drain field cleaners here or click below to buy one of the best immediately from

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