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Nearly 20% of homes in the United States enjoy the convenience of a septic system. Your septic system requires regular maintenance and cleaning to ensure it continues to work properly. Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, it is still possible for your septic system to fail.

A failure can cause the contents of the septic system to spill into your yard, which can be very costly to clean up. The best way to keep your septic system from failing is to understand some of the most common reasons why this occurs and prevent them from happening.

If Your Tank and Drain Field Are Overwhelmed

Your existing septic system is intended to handle a set amount of waste at any given time. The tank’s size is often determined by the number of bedrooms in a home or the number of household members that are expected to live in a home.

Ideally, your home should feature a tank that can handle three years of waste, based upon normal use. For example, if you have a family of four, you will require a tank that is at least 1,250 gallons.

However, even if you have a tank that is adequate for your family’s needs, and you remain conscious of your water use, you can still overwhelm your tank and drain field. A leaky toilet or faucet, relatives who visit for an extended period, or runoff from a heavy rain can also cause your system to fail.

The best solutions for this problem are emptying your tank every two to three years, having any leaks or plumbing damage repaired immediately and upgrading your tank if there will be additional people living in your household.

If the Drain Field Is Damaged

Your septic system features two main components: the tank and the drain field. If your tank is overwhelmed any excess waste water that isn’t heavy enough to sink to the bottom of the tank will eventually leech into the drain field through several pipes that are buried deep in the ground. It is just as critical to properly care for the drain field, as it is to care for the septic tank.

Here are a few simple ways you can protect your drain field and in turn, prevent a septic system failure:

Watch where you plant trees. The roots of plants, trees, and shrubs can grow out of control, especially when they are fed with the nutrients in the drain field. To avoid damage to the tank and drain field, do not plant anything within a 10-15 foot radius of the field.
Eliminate drainage issues. Avoid overwhelming your system by redirecting any runoff from your home away from the drain field.
Don’t walk or drive on the field. Your drain field is very delicate, which is why you need to avoid walking or driving on it. This will compact the soil, and make the field less efficient.

Additionally, do not place any sprinklers on or near your drain field. This will overwhelm the field, and lead to septic system failure.

If the System Isn’t Maintained

Finally, one of the most common mistakes that will lead to septic system failure is a lack of regular maintenance. You can prevent septic system problems by simply having your system inspected by a professional at least once-a-year. If you suspect there is a system or plumbing issue, don’t ignore it and instead, have it repaired by a professional right away.

In addition to inspections, you can avoid wasting water. From lack of maintenance to overwhelming your tank and drain field, there are several things that will cause a septic system to fail. If you suspect your septic system is failing, or if you have an emergency, don’t hesitate to contact the professionals at Billy Bell Plumbing.