Three Types of Drain Fields and How They Work

Understanding the various types of drain fields used in modern systems can help you to identify problems in these vital areas of your household septic system arrangement. Conventional drain fields are by far the most common category, but some homeowners may have one of the following types of drain field installations:

  • Dry well systems
  • Mound-type drain fields
  • Chamber-type systems

Some of these drain field systems require ongoing maintenance to function properly. Others may be less durable and may require replacement sooner than expected. Identifying which type of drain field is in use in your own septic system can give you a better idea of what maintenance may be required to keep it functioning properly.

Dry well systems

Rather than using the perforated pipes and gravel filled troughs of the conventional drain field arrangement, dry well systems use large pits filled with crushed rock or gravel to perform the same filtration and purification tasks. While these systems may be somewhat less effective at filtering wastewater due to the reduced lower surface area, they are typically considered as durable and reliable as traditional horizontal drain fields.

Mound drain systems

Some soil types or ground conditions may prevent in-ground installation of a standard drain field. Mound systems are built above ground and may require an additional pump to transfer the wastewater to the top of the drain field system. Once the water arrives at the mound drainage system, the process is similar to that found in conventional drain fields. Longevity for these systems depends upon the construction methods used and the quality of the soil located just under the mound.

Chamber systems

One of the newer methods for drain field construction, chamber systems hold fluids in a plastic container and allow them to seep into the ground below with or without the use of a gravel bed. These systems typically feature a shorter warranty period than other constructed systems. While their low installation costs may make them a popular choice in areas where they are permitted, these systems require a specific soil composition and need constant monitoring to ensure that they do not leak or overflow if the soil beneath cannot provide adequate absorption for the wastewater production of the household.

Reducing the environmental risk

In many cases, installing a septic aerator system can help to increase the breakdown of solids and particulate matter inside your septic tank. This can reduce the burden on all types of drain fields and can prevent contaminated water from escaping these systems and entering the outside environment. Septic aerators can increase the decomposition power of the bacteria within the septic tank by 30 times or more, making these advanced systems a solid and affordable choice for many homeowners.

In general, drain field problems occur more frequently than septic tank problems.  By understanding the various parts of your system, you can sometimes remediate septic issues before they turn into major headaches and expenses for your family.

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