A septic system consists of a septic tank that collects all of the solids from the wastewater, and a drain field that treats the liquids. If your drain field gets clogged, your septic system won't be able to work properly. Here's what you need to know about this serious septic system problem.

How does a drain field get clogged?

If you don't get your septic tank pumped often enough, the solids can overflow from the tank into the drain field. This is a big problem because your drain field is only designed to treat liquids, not solids.

The drain field is made soil and porous material like gravel or sand. These materials act as a natural filter and remove bacteria from your wastewater. Wastewater can pass through this filter, but solids can't. The solids that overflow from your tank will get stuck in your drain field, and not allow any liquids to pass through.

What are the signs of this problem?

A clogged drain field will be very obvious, and will cause serious problems inside your home. The wastewater that leaves your home won't be able to pass through your septic tank and into the drain field, so it only has one place to go: back into your house. The waste may back up into your basement, causing an expensive and smelly mess. You may also see waste come up the drain of your tub or sink when you flush the toilet.

Can a clogged drain field be fixed?

A clogged drain field can sometimes be fixed, but the procedure is challenging, and you'll need a plumber to do it for you. First, the plumber will pump your septic tank. Once the tank is pumped, the plumber will use a machine called a jetter to force the solids out of your drain field and back into your tank.

When do drain fields need to be replaced?

Sometimes, plumbers can't dislodge the solids from the drain field, and it will need to be replaced. This can happen if the drain field is saturated with water as well as solids, or if the drain field was badly installed from the beginning. If this is the case, a new drain field will need to be built, and connected to your existing septic system.

A clogged drain field is a serious problem. Without a functioning drain field, your septic system can't treat your wastewater, so if you think you have this problem, call a plumber right away. Contact a plumber like Angeles Plumbing if you have other plumbing repair questions.