There are several reasons why a septic tank may be used instead of a regular sewage system. While these systems have quite a few benefits over standard sewer systems, they can require some maintenance from time to time. One problem that can occur is septic field wet spots.
Generally, you might find septic tanks used in slightly more remote or rural areas where there is no access to a sewage system. Typically, these areas may involve camping grounds or remote communities.
It may surprise some, but around 1/5th, or 20 percent, of homes in the US, have septic tanks to manage their wastewater. If you are renting a property, there is a possibility that you have a septic system and don’t even realize it.
This is more likely to be true if you are living in a remote rural area.
What are Septic Field Wet Spots?
When you have a septic system installed, it will involve a tank and a drain field. A septic system works by taking your waste into a tank where it is broken down, or 'digested’.
This tank will be buried, and when wastewater is sent to the tank, it will separate. Solids will settle at the bottom of the tank where they are prevented from leaving, while liquids will remain on top, where they will be released into the drain field.
A septic drain field, or leach field, is where the liquid wastewater, or effluent, is released to. It is released slowly into the soil where it will be filtered and treated naturally.
However, problems can occur if too much effluent is released, and this can cause flooding or wet septic drain field.
How do you know you have a problem with your septic system?
Common signs of having a problem with your septic tank or your leach field, are these wet spots. You might find puddles or soggy ground close to where your septic tank is installed, or in the drain field.
If you find solids and waste above ground then there is a real problem with your septic tank, and it is time to call in a repair service. Other signs that there is a problem with the septic tank and system include water backing up in sinks or drains in and around the house.
The smell of sewage in or outside of the house is a bad sign. You may notice that water in sinks is draining away slowly, or that gurgling sounds are coming from the drainage system.
Why do wet spots on septic tanks happen?
Trees have been known to cause problems with drain fields and their pipes. Knowing how to deal with tree roots in pipes is important if you have a septic system.
The normal reason though for leach field wet spot and standing water near a septic tank is blockages. The bacteria in a septic tank helps to ‘digest’ the waste that is sent there. However, these bacteria can only digest certain organic matter.
If anything non-biodegradable arrives in the tank it can potentially cause a blockage. Materials considered slowly-biodegradable are just as bad. Generally, for households, this means grease, fats, and oils.
You may have heard of so-called fatbergs. Fatbergs are huge build-ups from waste fat that has been improperly disposed of in household drainage systems. During the first months of 2020, a 300-tonne fatberg was discovered blocking a sewer in Birmingham, England.
Pouring slowly-biodegradable products such as waste cooking oil into the drainage system connected to a septic tank could have a similar effect. This can result in wet spots and standing water when the liquid has nowhere else to go.
If you ignore wet spots, what would happen?
If you have drain field wet spot, find solid waste in your garden, or you can smell sewage, then you may have a problem. In these instances, calling a professional repair service may be necessary or you may end up with bigger problems.
A septic tank repair service will assess any problems with your system, and make the necessary repairs. If you don’t maintain your septic tank then it could fail, and you can probably imagine how unpleasant that would be.
If you use well water, you could also have a problem here. If you are noticing wet spots, and have a blockage with your septic tank, then your well water could be affected.
Coliform bacteria and nitrates may end up in your water, which can be very harmful. Ignoring wet septic field could result in complete failure of your system and contaminated well water.
Can you fix septic tank wet spots yourself?
Millions of Americans enjoy a spot of DIY in their spare time. During the pandemic, the amount of DIY enthusiasts grew, and thousands of home improvement projects were started, and hopefully, finished.
There are some areas though which are best left to the professionals. Only registered installers and engineers should mess around with gas. Tree surgery should be dealt with by professionals as it is dangerous work.
And similarly, septic tank installations and repairs need to be handled by qualified experts. According to Chron, septic tank permits are required for anyone wishing to repair or install these systems.
Different states have their own rules and regulations for these certificates, but typically a formal exam will need to be passed.
How to Fix and Prevent Septic Tank Wet Spots
Fixing wet spots near a septic tank will require a professional septic expert’s help. Although, there are things you can do yourself to improve the situation.
The sludge at the bottom of the tank needs to be regularly removed. You should follow a schedule to help lessen the chances of septic tank problems.
This is important because that sludge will just keep building up until it starts to take up space meant for the liquids. This will result in more wet spots.
Be conscious of how much water you are using in the home. Heavy loads of laundry can result in large amounts of water flowing into the septic tank at once.
A heavy influx of water can also upset the sludge at the bottom which can then block pipes causing overflow and wet spots.
Why use a septic tank instead of a sewerage system?
With all this talk of wet spots and bad odors, you might wonder why anyone would want a septic system in the first place. Well, firstly, they are generally installed in areas where normal sewage systems are just not available, or practical.
Still, there are several good reasons for using septic tanks over the more common sewage systems. Septic tanks are better for the environment than sewage systems and use less energy.
The waste does not need to travel long distances to a wastewater treatment plant. There are no chemicals involved with septic tanks, everything is natural.
Anyone owning a septic tank will not have to pay a wastewater charge on their utility bill. In fact, they might not have a water bill at all. Many people with septic systems also use well water in their homes.
Fixing Septic Field Wet Spot Summary
Septic tanks should last up to forty years, but they need maintenance. If you want to avoid having to understand the difference between septic tank repairs and replacements, then you need to look after yours.
Avoid putting grease and oil into the drainage system, have a regular pumping schedule for the septic tank, and avoid huge amounts of water flooding the system at once. Then you should be able to avoid wet spots and other septic tank problems.
If you do suffer from septic tank wet spots, then call in the professionals. Don’t try to tackle the problem yourself, as you might not come up smelling of roses.