Lateral fields, or leach fields, are part of your sewer and septic system. The fields play a vital role in the disposal of septic waste. As a homeowner in Salina, KS, you should know the basics of lateral fields, including what they are, where they are, and what to do if there’s a problem. Read further to learn more about lateral fields and how they work.

What Are Lateral Fields?

Lateral fields are an underground system of perforated pipes connected to the outflowing end of your septic tank. The laterals remove contaminants and impurities from the liquid waste flowing out of your septic tank, making the liquid safe to enter waterways and groundwater systems again.

How Do Lateral Fields Work?

All wastewater and solid waste that leaves your home through a drain flows into your septic tank. When you flush your toilet, run water down the sink or shower, or use the washing machine, the waste goes to your septic tank. This waste includes both solids and liquids.

When waste enters the septic tank, the solids sink to the bottom of the tank, becoming sludge. Bacteria inside your tank break down the solid waste further. Liquid waste stays above the solid waste and flows out of the tank through a large drain pipe. This drain pipe connects to the perforated pipes of your drain field, where the liquid waste flows.

Liquid waste seeps out of the perforated pipes and into the surrounding soil of the lateral field. Microorganisms in the soil help break down the waste further and remove pathogens through physical, chemical, and biological processes. The soil provides a natural filter for the waste by trapping and removing any remaining solids and other contaminants. Cleaned waste is then absorbed and filtered further by the soil, eventually re-entering groundwater systems or nearby bodies of water.

Where Are Lateral Fields Located?

The correct placement of your lateral fields is crucial for the proper disposal and filtration of liquid septic waste. The lateral fields need large, open, and flat areas for best conditions. The laterals sit in trenches that are dug 18 to 36 deep and measure one to three feet wide. You may have multiple trenches in your lateral field. These trenches are spaced about six feet apart from one another.

How to Spot Trouble in Your Lateral Field

Properly maintained lateral fields work silently and are invisible on the surface. These fields last up to 25 years when they remain clog-free, sturdy, and intact. However, you may spot one or more warning signs of a failing lateral field.

Gurgling pipes indicate a blockage somewhere in your system. This strange sound could be due to a clog in your pipes. It may also occur when waste cannot go in or out of the septic tank due to a blockage or an obstruction in the laterals.

Slow-running drains and plumbing backups are another sign of clogs anywhere between the drains and the lateral field. Our plumbers will start from the drain and work through your system, searching for blockages.

Toilet flushing issues may signal lateral field failures. Low pressure, slow flushing, or no flushing indicate a plumbing problem. If you cannot find the source of the toilet troubles anywhere else, you should have one of our experts inspect your laterals.

Strong sewage odors are signs of trouble. If you have a sewage smell coming from your drains or near the septic tank and laterals, you should have this investigated for a potential leak in the system.

Standing water or wet grass over the lateral field is another issue. If the soil gets too saturated, it cannot adequately treat the liquid waste. Saturated soil may be due to leaks in the laterals.

Lateral fields are a crucial component of your home’s septic system. As a homeowner with lateral fields, you should understand what they are and how they work. If you have warning signs indicating a problem in your lateral field, we’ll send one of our knowledgeable plumbers to assess the situation and make any needed repairs. Our professional team is highly trained and skilled in septic and sewer systems, making us the company to call when you have problems. We offer septic pumping, tank cleaning, and repair services to keep your waste flowing away from your home.

If you are experiencing issues with your septic system or lateral fields in Salina, give Salina Septic Service a call today to get your septic tank flowing properly again in no time. Besides septic system services, we also offer portable restrooms and roll-off dumpster rentals.

company icon