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Traditional Septic Systems: When to Repair or Replace

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Many people ask us if they can repair their traditional septic system’s lateral lines and if they are required to install an aerobic system for their next septic system replacement. There are a couple factors that play into each scenario, so let’s take a look.

Opportunities for Repair

If your system has absorption problems or issues with the lateral lines, your first instinct may be to repair the lateral lines. In order to do this, your system must meet current regulations and have an identified, specific area that requires repair.
Examples of potential specific repairs include:

  • Blockages found at an exact location
  • Specific parts of the system broken by a vehicle or machine
  • Separation of pipes or a belly in a pipe

When to Replace Your Septic System

If the system is old or is having a general absorption issue, replacement is probably the best route. If you believe you require a septic system replacement, you may be wondering if you are required to install an aerobic system. The answer depends mostly on the soil and site conditions. If your property has good absorptive soil, it may be possible to install a new drain field or lateral system while meeting the current regulations. Here in Texas, if the property is rocky or contains a high amount of clay, you will likely require an aerobic system. Although the old system may have been “grandfathered in,” the new system must meet current regulations.


2 thoughts on “Traditional Septic Systems: When to Repair or Replace

  1. Our home is over 30 years old. We have lived here 20. It is on a rocky hillside. We have had a leak in the driveway for years that drives us crazy. It does not smell and is clear water but it runs down the drive and out into the road. It only occurs when we do laundry…particularly if it is more than one load. Someone from the covenant (we do not belong to it) yelled at us once but has never returned. We do not have the cash to dig up our entire yard and have feared a septic leak.. A few years after we moved in, we had the tank pumped and they said it didn’t need it. We have not had it pumped since. We do smell sewer up by the house sometimes, which is where the pipe thing is. Thoughts?

    • Before digging anything up, you might want to verify the source of that water. Perhaps the laundry discharge is not even connected to the septic system. Pumping the tank will not effect any surfacing water from the drain field in the long run. You might have to have the tank pumped, then one-by-one, run each faucet, toilet, laundry, etc. into the tank to be sure its all connected. If it is, then it sounds like it might be the drain field failing. You could also add septic dye to the tank, then see if your surfacing water ends up colored to be sure its from the drain field. There’s different ways to go about it. Due to the age of your system, it leads me to believe its probably your septic system, but you could follow these suggestions if you want to be sure first.

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