Updated: Sep 6, 2019
Depending on who you ask, the life of a drain field or septic system is somewhere between 20 and 50 years. That's a huge range of time! So how can you feel comfortable with how much life you may have left in your septic system? The answer: it depends.... There are a few key variables that will greatly affect the longevity of your septic system. The more you know about those variables, the better you can gauge the expected life of the system. So, what are those variables?
What Affects Septic System Longevity Most?
Proper Installation - This one is obvious but absolutely critical. Most drain fields that fail very early on is the result of poor installation practices.
Quality Maintenance of the Septic Tank - Hiring a high quality pumper/hauler is crucial in getting as much life out of your septic system as possible. A quality contractor will clean the tank properly by removing all the solids in the tank. The whole point of having the tank emptied is to remove the solids so they are no longer present in the tank and eliminates the potential of pushing the solids out of the tank to the drain field. Your pumper should also be inspecting the tank to make sure that the outlet device is attached and protecting the drain field properly. The technician should also help get you set up on a good cleaning schedule, taking into account the size of the tank, number of people in the home, and water use practices of the household.
Use of the Septic System - Being aware of how you use water in your home on a daily basis is the number one variable that homeowners can control. It is best to use small doses of water with long periods of rest in between uses. This means avoiding running large water use items such as laundry, showers, dishwashers, and water softeners at the same time. Doing so helps to eliminate churning of the septic tank and helps to prevent solids from being pushed out to the drain field.
Watch What Goes Down the Drain! - Things like baby wipes, feminine products, food waste in garbage disposals, cigarette butts, condoms, etc are all common items that we see in septic tanks. These all can be harmful to your system and affect the life span as well.
Paying attention to these variables is important in getting as much life as possible out of a drain field.