Once a drain field fails, the only way to repair it is replacing it. The process is expensive and requires permits to do the work. Some locations require a reserve drain field, which allows for replacement or adding to the existing pipes. With proper maintenance, it is possible to protect the drain field, but once it fails, pumping the septic tank does not repair the field.
Preventing drain field failure requires protecting the drainage area and the reserve property. Driving vehicles or heavy equipment over the field causes compaction of the soil and increases the chances of failure. Owners should limit landscaping over the drain field to grass and should never pave over it.
Pumping the septic tank every three to five years prevents leaking of solid materials into the leach field. Septic tanks have baffles that normally trap these materials in the tank. However, if the system becomes overloaded, solids flow through the baffles into the field and cause damage.
Signs of a failing drain field include standing water, odors and soggy soil in the area. Often the additional moisture causes the grass to grow with green strips over the leach lines. Inside the home, occupants often notice fixtures draining slowly and gurgling noises from drains.