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3 Potential Problems With a Septic Leach Field Site

Septic Tanks
The septic tank is probably the most well-known part of your septic system because it has to be pumped out every few years, but the leach field is the real star of the show. The leach field actually interacts with the surrounding ground to process your wastewater, unlike the septic tank, which just holds solids and sends liquids to the leach field. Because of this interaction, the leach field's situation requirements are critical when deciding on septic system placement.

In some cases, a less-than-ideal situation can still allow you to install a septic system as long as you use an alternative rather than a traditional system. However, this depends on the local regulations and can be less cost-effective, which is why you should always have the land evaluated for septic system potential before buying it with the intention of building.

Here are three common reasons why a lot may be less-than-ideal for your leach field.

1. Shallow Topsoil

The leach field functions by dispersing wastewater throughout the topsoil in the area, giving it plenty of room to filter down through the dirt to the groundwater. This means you need plenty of depth between the pipes (which need to be placed at least a few inches below the surface of the ground) and the groundwater in question.

If you don't have three feet or more between your pipes and your groundwater, there's not enough material to ensure the wastewater will be properly filtered all the time. The same can be said if bedrock or a high-water floodmark is less than three feet down. In fact, if the area experiences seasonal flooding, you may not be allowed to install a septic system at all.

Alternative systems can often work quite well for shallow soil area, however. Septic mounds can be built up several feet high to increase the effective depth available for wastewater filtering.

2. Too-Dense or Too-Light Soil

Another reason your soil could fail to filter properly is if water drains through it too quickly or too slowly. Draining too quickly means the soil doesn't have enough filtration properties, meaning that the wastewater could still be contaminated when it reaches the groundwater. And draining too slowly means water is likely to pool at the surface, contaminating your yard.

You may be able to use a non-conventional septic system for this site, but it depends on local regulations (check with the county for options). For example, a system that includes pre-filtration systems can be useful for loose soil that doesn't have adequate filtration capability.

However, you need to take into account the construction and upkeep of an alternative system, and the capacity of such a system may not be the same, which is why you need to get the soil checked out in advance.

3. Too-Steep Ground

When you try to bury a septic system in the side of a hill, several things can go wrong. First, gravity won't be working entirely with you the way it ought to be. Instead of going straight down through the topsoil, this arrangement can tempt wastewater to seep out the side of the hill before it's fully treated, contaminating your yard.

Second, a septic system puts a lot of water into the ground. And if you put a lot of water into the side of a hill, erosion and even collapse can occur, depending on how stable the slope was to begin with.

These are just three possible reasons why that lot you're thinking of snapping up might be a hassle to develop. So check the specs and contact the county for alternative septic solutions before you buy. For more information on septic installation and upkeep, call JT Sanitation today.