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Everything You Should Know About Your Septic System Drain Field

Posted by ADB Septic on August 13, 2019

Your septic system is not just made up of your septic tank. Your plumbing, your tank, and your drain field are all essential parts of your system. Your septic system drain field is located near your septic tank and filters wastewater created by your system. To properly care for your drain field, it’s important to understand how your drain field works and why it’s important. We’ve broken down everything you need to know below.drain field

Why is My Drain Field Important?

The drain field is important because it helps treat wastewater. The pipes help move the wastewater through the system to the soil. The soil then removes harmful bacteria, viruses, and nutrients from the wastewater. After filtering out the water, the drain field discharges the water as groundwater, which then cycles back into the system. Without this filtration process, contaminated water could cycle back through your system, causing serious health risks to you and your family.

What Type of Soil Should Make Up My Drain Field?

Clay Soils

Clay soils are not ideal for drain fields because they do not provide enough room for effluents to easily flow through. This density will create drainage issues in your yard and backups in your septic system. Clay soils typically bond to sodium molecules in wastewater, blocking the effluent from draining properly. Over time, this bonding can lead to drain field failure.

Course Soils

Soils made up primarily of gravel or other course materials are too course and will cause the effluent to pass through too quickly. When the effluent passes through at this rate, it will not be filtered at all. This lack of filtration can contaminate your water supply and cause issues in your yard. This unfiltered effluent will cause waste buildup in your yard and toxic smells.

Ideal Soil

The best type of soil is a happy medium between clay and gravel that is not too dense or too loose. The mixture of the two will allow the soil to filter the effluent while draining properly and keeping the septic process functioning properly. In order to ensure ideal filtration, there needs to be a good balance of course and fine soil.

To find out if your soil is the proper consistency for a drain field, you should call in an expert for soil tests. If your soil is not the proper consistency, it doesn’t mean you can’t install a septic system. Another type of soil of a different consistency will simply need to be added to your existing soil. Be sure to contact an expert about your soil consistency. They will work with you in order to make adjustments to ensure your soil is the ideal consistency.

Which Factors Impact Drain Field Installation?

You might think that you can place your drain field anywhere in your yard. However, there are a few factors that will impact optimal placement.

1. Size

It’s important that your drain field is large enough to handle the amount of sewage it will receive every day. If your drain field is too small, it will overload easily and flood. When this flooding occurs, it can cause sewage backup in your pipes while contaminating the groundwater. Therefore you should choose an area of your yard that will allow for proper size of your drain field.

2. Soil

The type of soil that makes up your drain field is essential in its functionality. When choosing the location of installation, you should make sure the soil is the proper consistency. It should be course enough for the water to flow through, but fine enough to filter out the effluent. Soil that is too gravelly will not filter properly, while soil with a high clay content can contaminate the water. For more information on proper soil for drain fields, check out this blog post!

3. Terrain

The terrain on which you choose to build your drain field is important. You should not choose a spot with a steep slope. With rainfall, the area can experience runoff that will damage or flood the drain field. When the drain field floods, it can cause damage to your whole system. It’s important to choose a flat surface of the proper consistency to ensure your drain field works properly.

4. Landscaping

Any landscaping in your yard will help determine where your drain field should be installed. Your drain field cannot be placed anywhere near trees, as the roots can grow into the field and damage the field itself or the pipes in your system. There can be no obstructions within the ground. A drain field also cannot have anything heavy placed on top of it, as it soil will become compacted and it won’t function properly. Your drain field should be out in the open, free of obstructions in order to carry out its functions.

5. Access

Your drain field should be somewhere that is easy to access. The drain field and your septic system will require regular maintenance. Therefore, they need to be easily accessible. Your drain field should not be installed anywhere that will hard to get to. The cover of your septic system should be easily accessible as well. If you don’t like the look of the cover, check out our blog providing tips on hiding your cover in your landscaping. An accessible system is essential in performing maintenance, which is necessary to keep the system functioning properly.

What Causes A Drain Field to Fail?


Unfortunately, one of the main causes of drain field failure is its age. A drain field has an average lifespan of 25 years, so if your drain field is around that age, it might be on its last legs. When drain fields reach this point, they need repair or a new drain field needs to be created.


When extra water ends up in your septic system, it can overwork your drain field. Dripping faucets, running toilets, or malfunctioning water softeners can all cause oversaturation. If usage is higher than normal for an extended period of time, in cases such as extended houseguests or overwatering plants during a drought, your system could get overloaded. When your system gets overworked, your drain field can flood.

Crushing Damage

When the soil in your drain field gets compacted, it will not drain properly. Vehicles, horses, and heavy permanent structures can compact the soil on your drain field. When this compacting occurs, your drain field will become damaged and will not function properly. Avoid placing heavy items on your drain field that will compact the soil.

Failure to Pump

When too much sludge builds up in your system, it will get backed up. This buildup will cause an excess of water to rush into your drain field and flood it. If left too long, raw sewage will also build up in your drain field. This sludge buildup can be easily avoided if you pump your system regularly. Failure to pump your system frequently can damage your drain field.

Soil Clogging at the Biomat Layer

The biomat layer of your drain field is a layer of bacteria that forms below and around the drain field trenches. This layer helps process the biological solids and pathogens in the sewage. Excess water or sewage can cause this layer to clog. If the biomat layer is not functioning properly, it cannot treat the sewage and nearby water sources could get contaminated.

Blocking Drain Field

It’s important that your drain field is not sealed. Patios, pavement, decks, and other groundcovers should not be installed over your drain field. If your drain field is covered it will not drain and treat water properly and will malfunction.

Excessive Rainfall

In areas with an excessive amount of rain, your drain field can flood. In these areas, it’s important to use gutters to divert the water away from your drain field. If you fail to divert the rainwater, your drain field can malfunction and flood.


ADB Septic | CT Septic System Services

A.D.B. Construction & Septic Corp. is a septic services business in Manchester, CT. We proudly serve residential and commercial customers all over Hartford County and beyond with a full slate of services. With over 20 years of experience, we have completed countless projects of all scopes and sizes. Needless to say, there is nothing we can’t do when it comes to septic tanks, sewer systems, drains, and more.

Our business is committed to meeting your needs and completing your job with the utmost professionalism and precision. We put your satisfaction, safety, and comfort at the forefront of our priority list. When you hire us, you can achieve complete peace of mind.

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Topics: Drain Field, Drain Field Maintenance

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