In our last blog post, Culler Plumbing Services, a Top Rated Local® plumbing service in East Illinois, examined what happens to your home and business’ sewage after it is flushed or enters a sewer pipe. In this blog post, we’ll examine another way homes treat their sewage, using a septic drain field.


A septic drain field, or a leach field, is an underground wastewater treatment system, commonly used in rural areas without centralized sewer systems. These were very common as well before wastewater treatment plants became the norm. Septic drain fields use a combination of the natural water system and proven technology to treat wastewater from household plumbing produced by bathrooms, kitchen drains, and laundry known as dirty water. This system is very simple in design. All that it involves is a septic tank and a drainfield, or soil absorption field.


  • All water runs out of your home through one main sewer pipe into your septic tank.
  • Inside the septic tank, which is usually a buried concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene holding tank, the dirty water sits. The solid waste then settles to the bottom, forming sludge. The oil and grease stays on the top.
  • The liquid (known as effluent) on the top flows slowly from the septic tank into a series of perforated pipes buried in a leach field, which is then released into the soil.
  • The leach field or drainfield usually lies near the surface soil. This pretreated wastewater runs through the soil, which acts as a filter for the water, which then makes its way to the groundwater.
  • The key to the septic drain field is slow release. If the drainfield is overloaded with too much liquid at one time, the septic drain field can flood. Then sewage could flow back up to the surface, or sewage could flow back up your toilets and sinks in your home. Yuck!
  • Some septic drain fields send the effluent through sand, organic matter (e.g., peat and sawdust), or constructed wetlands to remove or neutralize pollutants like disease-causing pathogens, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other contaminants that waste causes in water.
  • Some septic drain fields also use evaporation of wastewater and even disinfect it before it is discharged into the soil for further sewage treatment.

Septic drain fields work great for individual households and can effectively treat the amount of sewage put out by one household. If you have a septic drain field, look for these signs of distress that may require a call to a 24-hour plumber such as Culler Plumbing Services to help:

  • You notice wastewater backing up into your drains.
  • You notice bright green, spongy grass on the drainfield, especially during dry weather. This is usually an indication of a leak in your septic system.
  • You notice pooling water or muddy soil around your septic system or in your basement. This can indicate a clog or other problem with your septic system.
  • You smell a stronger-than-normal odor around the septic tank and drainfield.

Culler Plumbing Services offers sewer line repair, water jetting, and sewer line excavation services, including trenchless excavation if applicable. Our goal is to help you stay safe and healthy through a properly-functioning sewer pipe, sewer lines, and sewer systems. Contact us today!