We just had a gentleman call us to ask if we could replace his lateral lines because they haven’t been working properly for the last two years.

The basic answer is yes.

However, we don’t take the old lines out and put new ones in the same place. Our caller explained that that’s precisely what he wanted because he doesn’t have anywhere else on his property for new lateral lines to go.

Let me take a minute to share with you what happens in these situations:

  • We have to order the original design from the Health Department so that we know what was installed.
  • Once we have the permit, we look it over to see what components make up the system. We also send one of our technicians to evaluate in-person and hopefully find a solution to bring the system back to a good working order.
  • If the system is too far gone, the client has to hire a licensed designer to come up with a design and submit it to the Health Department for permission.
  • Once permitted, we give the client a price quote and get the job done.

In all my years, I’ve only seen new lines go exactly where old lines were twice, and both times it was crazy expensive because of all the work that had to be done to make that happen.

You typically get one shot at using your soil for a septic system. If it fails, the new system has to go in a new, undisturbed area.

In its natural state, soil has passageways through it made by roots that have grown and then died. This leaves channels for the water to flow through as it makes its way down to the water table. Some of your water is wicked up through live roots and evaporates as the sun pulls it upward.

When you drive heavy vehicles over an absorption area, you compact the soil and close off these channels. The water finds it hard or impossible to make its way through and thus surfaces in ugly black pools in your yard. When you add soil or just move it around, there are no channels until many years of plant life have allowed new ones to form. When you clear or remove soil, you remove these channels and often leave the lower clay layers, which don’t work well for absorption.

The condition of your soil is the deciding factor when it comes to the size and type of septic system you will need. When the soil is good and untouched, things usually work well. When the soil has been moved, leveled, cleared, or fill dirt has been brought in, it makes it difficult or impossible to use. Often, that area has to have very specific equipment added to the system so it can be used, which almost always has a big price tag.

Finally, if you’re looking at land you want to buy, have a licensed professional check the soil to make sure it’s suitable for a septic system. If you already have a system in the ground, make sure you are keeping up with its care and maintenance so it doesn’t become full of solids, which will clog the soil.

Jon Jouvenaux

Author Jon Jouvenaux

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