Searching for the Best Leach Field Company in San Luis Obispo, CA?
The ending stage of your septic tank treatment system is finalized in the leach field. Sewage from your home, toilet drains and sink, tub, or shower drains, all flow through your sewer main into a septic tank where it is separated for treatment into 3 different waste levels. The bottom layer is where the solids sink and the section that will need to be pumped out once every 3 to 5 years, depending on the usage of your system. The top layer is where all the lighter solids and oils float and is also the portion of your septic tank that the bacteria, which break these materials down, live. The middle level is the wastewater or effluent from the lighter liquids that rises up from the solids, and the treated top level materials that become heavier after treatment and slightly sink to. The septic tank is designed in a way to only allow the effluent, or middle layer, to flow through an outlet pipe. This outlet pipe flows to a distribution box at the beginning of your leach field. Then it's equally divided by the distribution box to a series of drain field chambers or leach field drain pipes that have holes drilled throughout its length along the sides and bottom. Effluent is drained through these holes to sand and gravel lined trenches where any impurities in the effluent are trapped. The cleaned effluent is then either absorbed into the soil, combined with the groundwater, used in the roots of vegetation, or rises to the surface for evaporation. This entire process is only reliant on gravity to work.
To begin a proper leach field design, a soil test for septic or percolation test must be performed. The perc test consists of 3 to 5 holes dug to approximately 6 to 8 feet in diameter and either 2 feet below ground level or up to 12 feet deep to locate the water table. The results of this percolation test will determine the size of the leach field and if a traditional leach field will function correctly. If the water absorbs slowly, the size of the leach field will need to be large. This is referred to as the soil having a low percolation rate. If the water absorbs quickly, the leach field size can be smaller. This is known as the soil having a high percolation rate. If the water table is close to the surface, then a sand mound system will need to be constructed to prevent contamination of the groundwater supply. Other factors are calculated into the overall leach field design, such as occupants of the structure and estimated daily water usage. As you can see, there are many factors and calculations that take place in the proper designing of a leach field.
As mentioned earlier, if the water table is close to the surface, a sand mound septic system will need to be designed and constructed for the effluent. In a traditional leach field design, trenches are dug to health code standards, typically 36” below ground level, and either the leach field pipes are laid in the trenches and covered in gravel and sand or drain field chambers are used. With a high water table, this design can't be implemented as the effluent will contaminate the groundwater supply. A mound system is constructed by piling sand into a mound and all the leach field piping is built into it. A pump delivers the effluent to the top of the mound and the sand mound filters the wastewater as normal.
What Are Leach Field Chambers?
Leach field chambers, more commonly known as drain field chambers, are different than the traditional leach field drain pipes with holes drilled in the sides. Drain field chambers don't necessarily need to be installed in a gravel and sand lined trench to be effective. The system is reliant on the natural process of water treatment, using only the soil that surrounds the chambers. They are made from polyethylene, which is a very strong plastic material, and shaped into an arch with interlocking ends. Long slits are made across the sides and bottoms along the length of the chamber, which provides more efficient drainage of effluent. These systems actually perform better than the traditional leach field design and are great in areas when hills or slopes are present. Much easier to repair or replace, they don't need to be installed with any heavy equipment, like conventional leach field drain pipes are.
Regardless of the style of leach field you need to have, there are certain items you can perform daily to keep your leach field worry free for many years to come. Here is a short list of some common tips for great leach field maintenance.
Never park or drive over the leach field area
The weight of your car or piece of equipment will crush the piping or chambers below it, resulting in unnecessary repairs or replacement.
Never plant trees, bushes, or gardens over it
While grass is perfectly fine to grow over a leach field area and is beneficial to it, other types of vegetation have a longer root bed that will wrap itself around the pipes or chambers, resulting in clogs or damages.
Never pave or cover the leach field area
As part of the absorption process, leach field rely on air to help in the treatment process. One process of treatment is evaporation. If the leach field area is covered, evaporation can't occur.
Keep bacteria levels high
Adding products like Rid-X will enhance bacterial health within the septic tank and breakdown some solids at the bottom. This will result in cleaner effluent for the leach field to treat and less pump outs from limiting the solids level.
Don't overload your leach field with unnecessary water usage
Your leach field design includes typical or average daily water usage. If you go over the estimated usage, you could overload and flood the leach field. Wash laundry throughout the week instead of doing all your wash loads in a single day.
Keep harsh chemicals out of your leach field
Harsh chemicals like pesticides and herbicides kill the bacteria in the system. Having strong detergents or cleaners will harm your overall system and can potentially contaminate the groundwater supply as well.
I understand that it's not recommended to plant trees, bushes, or a garden over the leach field. Can I spread gravel over it?
Although a gravel bed seems like a good idea, it's actually not recommended. The leach field won't get the benefits from gravel that it would from just grass being planted.
I was mowing my yard and noticed my leach field has standing water on it. Is there a problem with my leach field?
Possibly. Standing water or a wet leach field are indicators of having a clog or damaged pipes. This is also an indicator of just using too much water. Only by having a septic inspection will tell exactly what's wrong.
I'm getting a foul smell when I go into my yard. Is my leach field failing?
Not sure if it's failing, but could be a sign that you need to have maintenance done on it. The smell could possibly be coming from the vent tube, which sometimes can produce very bad smells in times of high usage. If your leach field is dry, that could be all that it is, just venting itself. Otherwise, if there is water standing, could be time for a septic inspection to make sure all is well with your leach field.