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Common Septic Drainfield Problems

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Common septic system drainfield problems

We write a lot about septic tanks, but did you know they’re just one part of the overall septic system? The other component critical to a septic system’s proper functioning is the drainfield.

What is a drainfield?

Water flows into your septic tank from your home, but it doesn’t remain there forever. Once the liquids and solids separate, the water begins flowing into a series of underground pipes — called the drainfield — where it is treated naturally as it percolates into the soil.

The drainfield is where most of the wastewater treatment occurs — if it’s not working properly, it means your entire system isn’t working properly.

Common drainfield problems

There are many reasons drainfield failures occur, but we see the same five over and over again.

  1. System age – The average life of a drainfield is approximately 25 years, depending on its usage and maintenance. Biological material builds up in the pipes over time, so even well-maintained drainfields must eventually be replaced.
  2. Sludge in drainfield – This occurs from not pumping out the septic tank on a regular basis. You must pump your septic system every 3-5 years.
  3. Roots in drainfield – Roots can cause major septic troubles. They travel surprisingly far, and love working their way toward the water inside your drainfield and septic tank.
  4. Over-usage – If there is more wastewater usage than the system is designed to handle, the drainfield will not be able to handle that additional load.
  5. Leaks in the home – Drippy faucets, running commodes, and malfunctioning water softeners can contribute to flooding out a drainfield. The good news in this case is that once the culprit has been identified and fixed, the system can usually resume to its normal functionality.

Fixing drainfield problems

If you’re experiencing problems with your drainfield, pumping your septic tank or rootering the drainfield lines may help, but it’s never a guarantee.

Just like with a car, the best way to avoid septic tank and drainfield problems is routine maintenance. Here are some do’s and dont’s for keeping your septic system and drainfield running smoothly.

Need help with your drainfield?

We offer expert septic cleaning and maintenance for all conventional septic systems, as well as Clearstream aerobic systems.

Give us a call at 210.698.2000 (San Antonio) or 830.249.4000 (Boerne) or contact us online to discuss your septic system maintenance needs.


For 86+ years, Van Delden Wastewater Systems has withstood the test of time as the leading Wastewater System company, providing San Antonio, Boerne, and the surrounding Texas Hill Country with services you can count on now and in the future. 

Call us for any of your wastewater systems needs and let our professionals help you with your septic installation and maintenance requirements: 210.698.2000 (San Antonio) or 830.249.4000 (Boerne).


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