What are common infiltrator septic system problems?

Septic Tank Dude Author at Septic Tank Dude
Jack has been working all of his life in the septic tank maintenance, cleaning and pumping business. In 2020 when COVID hit he decided to retire from pumping septic tanks and use his knowledge to help out readers of Septic Tank Dude. Jack has a wealth of knowledge to share on septic tanks, leach fields and much more.
Jack Cacy

leach field chambers

An infiltrator septic system is a type of septic system that uses plastic leachfield chambers instead of traditional stone and pipe systems. Infiltrator chambers offer design flexibility and a smaller footprint compared to traditional systems.

There are some common problems that we see and hear of with infiltrator septic systems including clogs, blockages, leach field failure, and design/ installation problems.

In this article we cover the most common infiltrator septic system problems AND the solutions you need to get out of these problems with a cheaper option and a more costly, oh no solution.


Here are some common infiltrator septic system problems:

Clogs and blockages

These can occur in the pipes leading to and from the septic tank, as well as in the leach field.

Solution: To know where the clog or blockage is see if your septic tank is overflowing. This is usually a drain field problem. If your sinks and toilet are slow to drain then this is either a clog in your main sewer line to the septic tank or a problem with your septic tank or outlet pipe. A septic tank treatment and de-clogging treatment will be the cheapest way to establish if this is just a clog or if something bigger is happening. Either way you will improve your septic tank with a treatment. If this does not work after 2-3 days then you will need to call a local septic professional to diagnose the problem.

Plumbing backups

If you notice water backing up into your sinks, toilets, or other plumbing fixtures, it could be a sign of a septic system problem.

Solution: It depends what you mean by a plumbing backup. If there is a gurgling or slow water then you have time to apply your own treatment. This could be trying out vinegar and baking soda (but this rarely works). A septic tank treatment you flush down your toilet is the fastest way to check if it is a clog or slow drain. You can also go out to your septic tank and see if this is overflowing or if the grass around it is greener than the rest of your yard. This is a sign you drain field is not functioning well. A plumbing backup is usually a problem with your septic tank.


Leach field failure

Leach fields can fail to evenly disperse effluent, leading to sewage backups, septic odors, and sewage leakage on the lawn. Many homeowners ask the question how long do septic fields last. Often this happens if the septic drain field is not sized correctly for your septic tank, or the soil type is not suitable for your infiltrator septic system.

Solution: It is important to check if it is actually an infiltrator leach field failure. If your septic tank is backing up into the actual septic tank (and not into the house) the cheapest way to check if it is just a blockage is to order a septic tank treatment and de-clogger. If your septic is backing up into your house you can still try this but many homeowners would rather get in a septic company, even though this can be 5-10 times more expensive. 


sewer line clearing tablets

Slow waste digestion

If the bacteria colony in your septic tank is not digesting waste effectively, it can lead to foul odors and other unpleasant symptoms. This can often happen in colder climates, or if you have your septic tank drained too frequently.

Solution: A quality septic tank treatment will fix this for you.


Hydraulic overload

This occurs when too much water enters the septic system at once, overwhelming its capacity to process the waste.

Solution: Give your drain field rest for a day or two by either leaving the house and getting away for a weekend, or don’t do any loads of washing or run the dishwasher for a day. See if this makes a difference.


Improper system siting

If the septic system is installed in an area with poor soil drainage or other unfavorable conditions, it can lead to system failure.

Solution: This can be a big problem as moving a drain field is a costly exercise. Most states in the US require you to have a backup site for a drain field. It is important to decide if this is a weather issue, too much rain at this time of the year or if this is a constant issue. If it is a constant issue then you will need to contact a local septic company to diagnose the problem(s). If it is due to heavy rain you can check that your downpipes are not running into your drain field or near it. Rain down pipes and drains around your house should empty into a location that is lower than your drain field so you are not soaking this area, even if it is from below your septic drain field.


Homeowner abuse

Excess usage or high levels of certain chemicals can damage the septic system and cause it to fail. We also see this when you use the wrong toilet paper for a septic system.

Solution: Make sure you are only putting natural, septic safe cleaners and toilet paper down your toilet and drains. A quality septic tank treatment will help massively in this area as it will promote good bacteria that will break up solid waste in your system.


Poor maintenance

Neglecting to have the septic system pumped regularly or failing to address problems when they arise can lead to system failure.

Solution: This is something you need to put on the calendar. This could be putting your monthly septic tank treatment on the calendar or your 3 month or 6 month septic maintenance service.


Design and installation problems

If the septic system is not designed or installed correctly, it can lead to system failure. This often comes down to the soil type, especially if a perc test is not done ahead of system design and installation.

Solution: Try contacting the company who installed your septic system if you had this done yourself. They will be able to give advice. If not then there are two options. 1 try a septic and leach field treatment that may unblock the build up in your septic system and leach field. 2. Contact a local septic company to diagnose the problem(s)


don't wait for your septic to fail, prevent it


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