You Do Not Have to Replace a Failed Septic System

The scope of this post is to discuss options for septic system maintenance and septic system failure. The over whelming majority of septic systems function by anaerobic bacterial action. Sewage leaves the house or place of business and is stored in the septic tank until the anaerobic bacteria breaks the sewage down. Then it is conveyed to the distribution box in the form of effluent.

The distribution box is a second tank in the septic system between the septic tank and the leach field. Effluent flows from the septic tank to the distribution box and to the various number of leaching lines in the leach field.

In the leach field, anaerobic bacteria continues breaking down, and digesting solids that have left the septic tank. The leach field is originally tasked with absorbing effluent. However, it was discovered that solids, still suspended in the effluent are found in the leach field, where the anaerobic bacteria is still attempting to digest them. The presence of biological material and anaerobic bacteria in the leach field is the death of the leach field. Remember, anaerobic action does not dispose of biological material very quickly. The build up in the leach field occurs faster than the bacteria can dispose of the material. This action begins on day one of a new septic system. It is just a matter of time, before the anaerobic system will need replaced.

Notice, to the bottom of the left side of the septic tank in the photo above, there is an inordinate amount of sludge. Even still, effluent carries with it, suspended particulate solids that do not break down or disappear under the digestive action of anaerobic bacteria. The sludge and scum level floating in the effluent are testimony to the inefficient performance of an anaerobic septic system. This inefficiency is why our septic system needs maintaining.

You will also notice the three risers on the top of the tank. Many septic tanks do not have this feature. There are, however, three covers you will need to unearth to provide maintenance service to your tank. Rather than dig these up every 1 – 3 years, install risers and cap them. This will make pumping your tank a lot easier and quicker.

Try as we might, the filter tee is the last defense in protecting our leach field and distribution box from solids accumulating in the distribution box or in the leaching lines. This will shut down a septic system before its’ time. If the problem is sludge and grease buildup in a failed leach field, this can be remedied by jetting. Hydro jetting or water jetting can be done as a diagnostic step toward remediation. However, with age, there exist a very strong possibility the leach field is not going to be functional after hydro jetting. Here is why and what you need to do.

What Can Be Done With a Failed Septic System?

Remediate a Failed Septic System

A failed septic system is not the end of the world. You just need to know what to do and how to save the thousands of dollars it would take to replace a failed septic system.

Septic systems fail due to 2 common developments in the leach field.

  1. Hard Pan Soil – Hard pan soil occurs due to mineral build up in the soil, around the leaching lines. There are some products on the market, today that offer relief from hard pan soil. The product used by Anchor Sewer and Drain Cleaning is Septic Drainer.
  2. Bio-Mat – Bio-mat occurs due to the migration of solid biological material and anaerobic bacterial action in the leach field. Because septic systems can not filter out 100% of the solid material that goes to the septic tank, particles accumulate in the leachfield. Anaerobic bacteria attempts to digest the solids. However, the anaerobic bacteria produces a slime. This slime builds, along with the accumulation of solids and creates an impervious membrane in the soil, baring leaching ability. Anchor Sewer and Drain Cleaning uses Pirana Aerobic Bacteria Generators to convert septic tanks to aerobic tanks. The aerobic bacteria is much more effective at digesting the solids. Also, Pirana uses a facultative anaerobe that has the ability to switch in and out of aerobic and anaerobic environments. When solids traverse to the drain field, so does the bacteria generated in the ‘septic’ tank.

Being pro-active is the best policy. Do not allow your septic system to develop such difficult problems as bio-mat and hard pan soil. A new septic system should convert to an aerobic system, such as Pirana. The benefits would be,

  • Protecting the concrete components of the septic system from corrosive gases
  • Protecting the soil from bio-mat in the leach field
  • A faster digestive action in the septic tank. Meaning there will be very little solid material arriving in the distribution box.
  • No sewer odor


Every five years, instead of having your septic tank pumped, have the leach field jetted and treated with septic drainer. This will eliminate mineral buildup, keeping the leach field ready to absorb effluent from the septic tank. Which, in the case of a Pirana user, the effluent will have a much cleaner presence with minimal solid material, accompanied by facultative anaerobes.

For more details on our products and services, please feel free to visit us at Sewer Cleaner and Drain Cleaner in Woonsocket, RI, Sump Pump Installation in Woonsocket, RI & Septic Tank Maintenance in Woonsocket, RI