Yes, particularly if the effluent is not adequately treated, as in a failing system. Untreated effluent is a health hazard and can cause many human diseases. Once this untreated effluent enters the groundwater, you and your neighbor’s wells can be contaminated. Also, if this sewage reaches nearby streams or water bodies, wildlife beds and recreational swimming areas may also be jeopardized.
Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance! If your system has been properly designed, sited, and installed, the rest is up to you. Inspect your system annually and pump as needed (usually every 3-5 years), avoid excess water use, and watch what you put down the drain and flush down the toilet.
Usually when a septic system fails, the drainfield is not functioning properly. When a
septic tank overflows, the effluent can pass to the drainfield, clogging up the pipes.
This causes sinks and toilets to back up in the house. Other signs include: slow
draining toilets and drains, an odor of sewage, wet area on or near the drainfield, or
contaminated well water.
Contact Nieman Plumbing for a complete system check.
Obtain a copy of your property’s septic system record drawing (usually referred to
as an “as-built”), a diagram showing where your system components are located.
You can obtain your property’s as-built from your local health department or health
district–some allow you to search for your as-built online.
This area may be used for replacing or expanding the drainfield. It must meet the same criteria, such as acceptable soils, setbacks, etc., as a regular drainfield. It should be protected in the same way.
Septic systems are designed to provide long-term, effective treatment of household
waste when operated and maintained properly. However, most systems that fail prematurely are due to improper maintenance. Less serious problems are usually with
plumbing (such as pipe blockages from tree roots growing into the pipe). Sometimes,
the septic tank, although durable, can deteriorate or have other structural problems.
The most serious problems are the result of a clogged drainfield. Unfortunately, this is
the most expensive to repair. Once the absorption field is clogged, it must be replaced and can cost thousands of dollars.