Drainfield Life Span

There are circumstances that shorten the life of a drainfield.

1:  Hydraulic Overloading
This is a condition where soil beneath the drainfield becomes saturated resulting in ponding.
This condition can be cause by:

A:  Drainfield is undersized for the current usage
B:  Leaking plumbing fixtures
C:  Surface water into the system
D:  Surge loading (e.g. doing all the clothes washing on one day)
 Note that laundry should be spaced out.

2.  Grease
Excessive grease can congeal in the sewer line to the septic tank or inside the tank.
The septic tank may accumulate a layer of solid fat, which cannot be readily broken down by bacterial action.

Grease should be treated as garbage and kept out of the septic tank whenever possible.

3: Non-Biodegradable Products
These products are made of cellulose, plastic or other non-biodegradable components.
They may plug the sewer lines, baffles and drainfield perforations or lodge in the pump. 

Here are some examples:
Sanitary Napkins,  Condoms,  Cotton Swabs,  Dental Floss,  Tampons,  Handwipes,  Infant Wipes,  Disposable Diapers and Cigarette Filters.

4: Chemicals That Kill Septic Tank Bacteria
When disposed of through the septic system, these chemicals may kill septic tank bacteria.
This can result in a severe decline in decomposition of the septic tank solids. 
It can take several weeks for the bacteria in the septic tank to re-establish.

Here are some examples:
Antibiotics, Other Medicines, Disinfectants, Painting Products, Gasoline, Oil, Degreasers and Pesticides.

5:  Clear Water Discharges
Building foundation drains, humidifier, and water softener discharges are considered clear water, which may be disposed into the ground separate from the septic system.  However, discharge from the softener during the recharge cycle is a salt brine which, in excessive amounts, could have an adverse affect on septic tank bacteria.

6:  Surface Drainage
Roof downspouts, driveway runoff and road ditches should be directed away from the septic system. 
The finished grade over the septic system should divert surface drainage of water away from the tanks and drainfield.

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