Sand Filter Septic System Maintenance

man with hose pumping out a septic tank

A sand filter septic system works very much like a standard septic system, with the exception that there is limited land area available, so instead of running off into a leach field, it drains through a sand bed back into the environment. Limited land space for extended drain fields are generally the reason this type of system is used, as it can do as well as a standard setup in a limited amount of space. A sand filter system consists of several main components, the main drain to the septic tank, drain pipes into the sand filter area, and a collective tile that allows the system to seep purified liquids back into the environment.

1. Pumping out the Septic System

One thing to keep on top of is the main catching tank or septic for your sand filter septic system. In general, the waste material comes down the line from your home into this holding tank. Bacteria breaks the materials down in this first stage, as sediment falls to the base of the system, and lighter waste floats to the top, creating particle separation. Because of this natural separation, you will want to do regular checks of the tank to ensure it is not filling up with secondary liquid or solid waste buildup. Standard tank maintenance includes pumping the tank out once every three years unless heavy usage requires otherwise.

2. Drain Pipe and Leach Field Maintenance

unburied sewer pipes

The drain lines that run into the sand bed of your sand filter septic system can also build up with solid waste over time from forced back pressure or from small particles collecting over time. Filters can be placed in certain areas of these systems to prevent larger waste from clogging the lines, and they can be blown out with clean water. If your system seems to be backing up, it is likely that your pipes are clogged and are stopping the water from draining properly into the holding tile, and they will have to be replaced.

3. Clearing out the Drain Lines

Your entire sand filter septic system can be flushed with fresh water by forcing it through the lines at the system's clean out. Generally, this clean-out access is attached to the main sewer line's air shaft, which should be located somewhere in your home's basement, or in the side of your yard. Forcing water through this line will allow clean water into the system that is under pressure, forcing clogs and buildup in the main drain to come loose and drop into the septic tank.

4. Protect from Above Ground Pressure

With any septic system, you want to know the location of your tank and underground pipes to prevent large vehicles or heavy piles and out buildings from putting weight onto them. Extensive amounts of above ground pressure from weight can burst your drain pipes and even damage the holding tank of your sand filter septic system. If you notice the ground sinking in around any of these known areas, you should take the initiative and dig up the area and repair the situation before it gets out of control. This type of sign is a warning of a serious problem that can cost you more to fix it after long-term exposure.