How to repair a drain or leach field: saturated with standing water (AVOID Doing This!)

A drain field or leach field distributes the water that comes out of the sewage tank over a part of your garden. This is done through a distribution box and pipes. These might get damaged over time though. It can result in bad smells, slow draining pipes, or a buildup of water. Let’s take a look at what can be done to fix it.


Finding the root cause of the problem can help you to find the best solution for your situation. It can take some time to find out what is going on. Some solutions can be expensive so you can start with giving the cheaper options a try.

Broken pipes in the drain field

If you drive over the pipes or ride over them with a horse, the plastic pipes might break. You might have to replace or repair them. This can be done quite easily if there is not too much damage. Replacing all the pipes can involve digging them up and this can create a mess.

People often don’t realize how breakable these pipes are and park heavy vehicles on it. Furthermore, some trees or plants can destroy the pipes as well as their roots can get in the pipes and break them. It are just plastic pipes so they can break if you are not careful. Some plants such as reed can work as they don’t tend to break the pipes.

Wrong composition of the dirt: Grass dying over leach field and more

Geologists study the composition of the ground. There are several types of soil, from clay to sand. Each of these has unique capabilities and getting the composition right is essential.

Inspectors should check this before they approve the field but sometimes they didn’t do a good job and your field had to be dug up and reinstalled. Gravel is often used in a drain field as this is able to absorb water and break it down further.

A lot of people DIY their drain field without paying enough attention to the soil. This can block the water and result in a muddy field. In some instances, it is possible to hold the previous owner accountable for the costs of the repairs if the situation was not disclosed properly.

Septic systems can work well for a long time… until they don’t. Getting the initial installation right can make all the difference.

You might have to bring in new dirt so that the drain field works well. This can cost a lot of money though and should only be done if nothing else works.

Sometimes a Terralift can work as well. This is boring holes in the ground and blowing oxygen in it. This allows the water to flow deeper into the soil. This technique has been used for several decades and some people see results from it. It is estimated to cost less than 2000 USD but depends on the size of the field.

Broken distribution box

The distribution box spreads the water that comes out of the tank over the pipes. It is possible that this is clogged or that there is a wrong setting being used. This can often be easily fixed as distribution boxes should be easy to access. You can adjust the flow rate to the pipes with a cap on the pipes. Sometimes there is some fine-tuning needed to get it right.

The drain field is not deep enough

The drain field needs enough soil to distribute the water. If there is rock under it, the water has nowhere to go and this can result in a puddle. It might be needed to add soil on the drain field so that it becomes a small hill. The water is then able to flow. You will need a geologist that can help you with this. These types of drain field are more expensive as they are not that common.

Sometimes digging the drain field deeper is the solution. It can require an excavator to get it deep enough. Make sure that you get a permit for this as it can be difficult to sell the house when you work on your septic system without an inspection.

Clogged drain field: how to unclog

If you flush cooking oils or harsh cleaning products, the drains can get clogged. While they can be cleaned with a water jet, some suggest that this is not the best solution as the water might saturate the soil and can’t be used in a lot of systems as the jet is too powerful.

An auger can also be used but this might damage the drains. Some argue that worms can fix this issue as they drill holes in the ground and this allows the water to go deeper into it. They will also eat the fats in the tank and pipes.

You can also give Roebic a try. These are natural bacteria that break down dirt in your pipes and make sure that the flow of water happens more smoothly. Carefully read the instructions before you start. It can be flushed in your toilet so is quite easy to apply. It is a cheap solution so you can give it a try and go for other solutions if this didn’t work. It has a lot of great reviews so it seems that people are getting results with it.

To conclude, we can state that there are a lot of potential problems with a drain field. From construction issues to required maintenance. The solutions range from 20 USD all the way up to several thousands of dollars. Finding the cause of the problem is a great first step.

You might have to consult with geologists or people that maintain septic systems to see what is going on. It is essential that you fix it as soon as possible as problems can accumulate over time.