The Dangers of Compacting a Drainfield and the Common Causes of Compaction

The soil in the septic drainfield should not be compacted because doing so will reduce the drainfield's efficiency. To understand why this happens, you first need to understand how the septic drainfield works.

How the Drainfield Works

The drainfield is responsible for actually getting rid of the wastes in your septic system. It does this by evaporating and biodegrading the wastes. Evaporation takes place best when the soil is loose, allowing the wastes to be exposed to the air and/or sunlight. Bacteria then work on the remaining biological wastes and turn them into harmless substances.

Why Compacting the Soil Is Dangerous

When you compact the soil, you interfere with all the operations that are necessary to dispose of the wastes. For one, compacted soil doesn't allow for adequate evaporation because the soil beneath the surface layer aren't exposed to the air. Secondly, compacted soil may not contain enough oxygen for the bacteria to digest the wastes.

Therefore, it's advisable to avoid all activities that can compact the drainfield. Any activity that involves placing weights over the drainfield can compact its soil, but these three are some of the most common ones:

Constructions Over the Field

Almost all forms of construction over the septic drainfield have the ability to compact it. People sometimes build parking areas, fish ponds, or tennis courts if they don't have space elsewhere for those constructions. Others don't like the natural appearance of septic drainfields, so they cover up the fields by building things over them or using synthetic ground covers.

Driving or Parking Over the Field

Driving cars or heavy machinery (such as excavators) over the drainfield can also compact the soil. Parking such heavy automobiles on the drainfield isn't advisable either. Therefore, if your compound is poorly designed and you have to drive over the drainfield, you need to redesign your compound's layout if you are to avoid septic failure. You will need to move the roadway or septic drainfield, whichever is viable for your case. Apart from compacting the soils, the heavy automobiles can also damage the septic pipes.

Grazing Over the Field

Lastly, if you live in a rural area, allowing livestock to graze and walk over the drainfields will also compact the soil. A single horse or cow may not cause significant damage, but you should be concerned about your septic drainfield if a herd of animals has been grazing over your drainfield. 

For more tips on how to keep the soil in your drainfield loose, talk to a septic tank service like Kulp and Sons.