What Happens To Your Leaching Field If You Don't Pump Your Tank?

Septic tank pumping is an essential part of owning and maintaining a septic system, but what happens if you don't keep up with this critical task? While you probably know that you'll end up with a nasty sewage problem in your house, you can also damage other parts of your system. Your leaching field is particularly vulnerable to damage from overfilling your septic tank.

The Basics of Waste Flow in a Septic System

When you flush wastewater down a drain in a home served by a municipal sewer line, it very quickly becomes someone else's problem. Although modern sewer systems have plenty of complex moving elements, your part in the process is relatively straightforward. Once water enters your sewer lateral, it rapidly moves into the city's sewer and becomes the city's problem.

However, waste flow in a septic system has a few more steps. After traveling through your home's main drain line, wastewater enters your septic tank. The tank acts as a holding area, but it's not the final destination. Once in the tank, solids fall to the bottom, while greasy residues rise to the top. The remaining liquid effluent then slowly flows through an outlet and into your leaching field.

Contrary to popular belief, the level in your septic tank remains relatively static while it is in use. The tank must maintain a reasonably constant liquid level for unimpeded flow into your leaching field. When you pump your tank, you're dealing with the accumulation of solid waste rather than liquid effluent. Without performing this maintenance every few years, solid waste can build to dangerous levels.

The Impact of Solid Waste on Your Leaching Field

Your leaching field may be the most expensive component in your septic system. Replacing an entire leaching field can sometimes be a five-figure project. Under normal circumstances, liquid from your septic tank enters your leaching field through a distribution box and a series of pipes. The water flows from the lines into the surrounding soil medium, where aerobic bacteria break it down.

When you allow your septic tank's solid levels to get too high, solid waste can flow into the leaching field. Since the distribution pipes rely on tiny holes to diffuse liquid into the surrounding area, solid waste can quickly cause them to clog and fail. This situation can also result in a saturated leaching field, resulting in a more expensive replacement project.

Scheduling routine pumping for your septic system is the best way to avoid this situation. This one small maintenance task will help you maximize the life of your leaching field, saving you thousands of dollars in repairs while avoiding a long and destructive replacement project.