Your septic system is arguably the most important system within your home. Without it, there is no method for you to properly dispose of waste and wastewater. Your septic system is made out of a septic tank, where solid waste is held, and a drain field, which filters the waste out of liquid waste and allows water to return to the environment. Over time, due to use, environmental factors, and simple aging, your drain field can begin to function less effectively, affecting your entire home. Understanding the warning signs associated with a drain field that is no longer able to properly do its job can help you identify when you need to have a septic tank specialist service your system.
One of the first warning signs associated with a drain field that is no longer able to properly handle liquid waste is the strong smell of sewage throughout your yard. This points to the improper filtration of contaminants from liquid waste, which means that the waste is simply sitting in the drain field. In severe cases, you may be able to smell sewage within your home as the waste backs up.
Another clear sign that your drain field is not working as intended is if you find that there are pools of standing water or sewage throughout your yard. This can happen over time if the drain field has reached the end of its lifespan and cannot properly handle the waste being passed through it, but more often than not, this is simply a problem associated with heavy water usage within your home. Attempt to spread out heavy water use, like doing laundry and the dishes on different days, to see if the problem disappears. Having a professional inspect the system to ensure that everything is properly functioning as well is also recommended.
Finally, the last and arguably the clearest sign that something has gone wrong with your drain field is if your home's plumbing system experiences a sewage backup. This can happen if the septic tank becomes too full, but can also be due to a drain field that has been clogged by improper waste (such as flushing things that aren't supposed to pass through a septic system, like diapers and paper towels) or a similar issue somewhere within your plumbing system. Proper septic tank maintenance is likely needed to get everything flowing properly again.