All of the wastewater from your house goes to your septic tank, but not all of it stays there. The solids stay in the tank, and settle to the bottom, while the filtered water drains into the surrounding area of your yard, called the drain field. The drain field's job is to filter out any harmful pathogens before your wastewater gets back into the groundwater. Drain fields don't last forever, though. Here are four signs that yours needs to be replaced.
1. The ground around your septic tank is wet
Wastewater flows out of your septic tank through a series of pipes, and into the surrounding soil. Bacteria from the water remains in the soil, but after a while, too much bacteria accumulates there. It forms a slimy colony that blocks the flow of water deeper into the soil. Since all of the water isn't able to go down, some of it goes up instead, leaving puddles and soggy ground near your septic tank.
2. Wastewater is backing up into your basement
An overloaded drain field can also make wastewater back up into the drains in your basement. This happens when the soil around your septic tank is already completely saturated with water, and you keep putting more water into the system by having showers and doing laundry. There are only so many places that your wastewater can go, and sadly, one of those places is back into your house.
3. There's a gurgling sound coming from your drains
When your drain field needs to be replaced, you may hear a gurgling sound coming out of your drains. This is easier to notice when you're using a lot of water, like if someone in your house has a long shower or does a few loads of laundry. This noise is caused by the water trying to push past the blockage in your drain field.
4. Your drains are slow
If only one of your sinks or toilets is draining slowly, it's probably an isolated clog, but if all of them are draining slowly, you could have a problem with your drain field. This happens when the drain field is either blocked with bacterial slime or completely flooded, so the water can't leave your house as quickly as it's supposed to.
If you notice any of these signs, call a plumber right away. A new drain field can be built beside your old one, and your wastewater will be diverted to it.