B&J Wakefield Services, Inc.
Mailing address: 101 Lakeview Circle Waxahachie, TX 75165
Physical address: 360 Lakecrest Drive, Waxahachie, TX 75165 

Phone: 972-938-3355
Fax: 214-988-0867
All Your Septic Needs

Septic System Failure:

There are pretty close to six major causes of below grade septic system failure: the combination of clay soil and sodium from table salt, bio-mat overgrowth, broken pipes, over flowing septic tank, high water table and root intrusion. Hope this information helps you to understand the most common problems related to standard septic system failures.  Read more about these below.

 Sodium & Clay

Another common problem is the combination of sodium and clay soil. Sodium is one of the main components of table salt which more than likely find its way into the kitchen sink and down into your septic system. Clay sticks together very well on its own and sodium causes it to stick together even better! The combination of sodium and clay often creates a substance called caliche. Clay soils tighten and sodium deposits fill in the voids, so the grey water cannot pass through soil and be filtered. In this case, the water just pools and eventually floods the soil and starts to appear on the surface. At that point you will notice a problem and you will have to take action right away. What I recommend is that you call a us as soon as possible if you see fluids on the surface above your leach field. Not to mention, stop using water in your house until a we have inspected your septic system.

There are some products on the market that say they can break up the caliche in drainage fields without having to do any excavating. You just introduce these products into your septic system via a drain or your toilets and they would make their way to the drainage field where they would break up the hard-pan. We have never tried any of these products so I cannot recommend this method.

You can easily test your soil to find out if there is clay in it, that way you will know to avoid allowing too much sodium to get into the system. Go outside and picked up a handful of soil, add a little water and squeeze it in your hand. If when you release your hand the soil remains in a ball then you have clay in your soil. The more firm and the less brittle the ball is the more clay you have. Clay is not unique to one area of the world, you can find it anywhere, but a place where it is found often and regularly is in the southeastern United States. 

 Bio-mat Overgrowth

There is another cause of septic system failure although it is less common. That is the overgrowth of the bio-mat. Near the surface of a drainage field, around the inner walls, a substance called bio-mat develops. It is basically undigested raw sewage that should not be in the drainage field. It contains countless bacteria and microbes that are hard at work trying to digest it. The problem can get out of hand when there is too much grease and sludge that enters the drainage field and causes the bio-mat to grow cover the entire drainage field. As the bio-mat grows and becomes more and more dense it becomes a waterproof layer. When the water can no longer pass into the soil to be filtered it will again pool and eventually become visible on the surface. There are also products in the market that claim to resolve this bio-mat issue. This method can be slightly expensive but not as much as a system replacement. I have also heard of introducing air to the tank before it leaves into the drain field that it will break down bio-mat overgrowth.  Be aware this may not be legal in your area and this method has not been tested by NSF that I am aware of.

 Crushed or Broken Drain Pips

A more common problem leading to septic system failure is broken or crushed drainpipes. Some homes are built on lots that are very small and there is not an abundance of space for the septic tank and the drainage field. This can lead to pipes being installed under areas where vehicles may travel and the weight of the vehicle compresses the soil and can crush the pipes.

The only solution to broken pipes is to have the replaced if allowed in your area. This can cost a lot of money and leave you without septic service for a while. You may be required to look into Aerobic Septic System or a more suitable system for you area.

 Neglected Septic Tank Pumping

Another common problem of septic system failure is waste solids leaving your septic tank and making their way down to the drainage field. Septic systems must have their contents pumped every 3-5 years depending on the size of the tank and the number of people using it. If septic system pumping is neglected the sludge at the bottom can build up to the point where it will fill your septic tank entirely. When this happens, the sludge can pass into the drainage field pipe and move into the drainage field. If this has happened in your septic system and the drainage pipes are clogged you may be able to clean them using high powered pressure washers. This service can usually be performed by licensed septic tank pumping companies. Or if you are in our service area contact us for a pump out.

 Root Intrusion

Root intrusion is another cause of septic tank failure. It is never a good idea to plant anything over a drainage field, especially plants that have complex and deep root systems. If you do plan anything near a drainage field you will notice that these plants are larger and stronger and healthier looking than other plants in the area. This is because of the additional moisture and nutrients the plants are getting from the drainage field. Plants love to have moisture and nutrients and their roots will grow in the direction of highest nutrient concentration, which is directly into your drainage field and eventually in your drainpipes.

There are two ways you can deal with root intrusion, the first is mechanically removing the roots which can be difficult and time-consuming. The second method is using commercial chemicals to kill the roots which can also kill other vegetation in the area. The best thing to do is to avoid planting vegetation near or above a drainage system.
  High Water Table
During heavy rain periods a lateral field can become over saturated.  This will most commonly occur in mostly unsuitable conditions such as solid rock and clay soils.  Think of it as a pond is built in clay soils and hold water very well. This will happen to your lateral field.  Usually the clay soil tightens up and becomes saturated to the point either the water goes back through your septic system and into your house or leaches onto the ground and runs off.  In solid rock conditions rain water runoff cannot go any further down through the rock which can overrun your drain field.  These are not good conditions to have your gravity drain field in. But fortunately when the water table goes down typically your lateral field will go back to draining the way it was.

Once your septic tank fails it will be a unique life experience. In this case, “unique” does not mean fun. If you are lucky the problem can be easily resolved and for relatively little cost, but if you are unlucky it will take weeks to solve the problem and cost lots of money.  And be aware of the cheapest bidder.  Even though there is an inspection done in most cases most installer know how to cut corners.  Do your homework and check with the BBB, call references, search for internet blogs, and even sites such as Angie's list.  In which we are proud to say that we do have an A+ rating with the BBB and are listed on Angie's list as recommended contractor.