It’s common knowledge that septic systems are installed at rural and suburban properties because they can treat and dispose of residential wastewater onsite. What you might not realize is that their effectiveness significantly depends on nearby soil conditions, including pH levels.

If you own a septic system, its surrounding soil pH levels are vital. Soil pH levels influence the terrain’s ability around your septic tank to break down waste materials and the potential for environmental contamination. Let’s explore how your soil’s pH levels impact your septic system’s performance.

What Is Soil pH?

Soil pH indicates the acidity or alkalinity levels of a specified terrain sample. These measurements are expressed on a 0- to 14-point scale while calculating the hydrogen ion concentration within a given soil sample.

Soil pH levels below 7 indicate acidic soil and readings of 7 or higher are alkaline. Measurements of 7, the middle of the scale, are pH neutral. This reading is ideal for giving you the most biologically productive soil.

A balanced pH level is crucial because it impacts soil performance. Acidic conditions enhance the solubility of the toxic elements in your soil, such as aluminum and manganese.

Both can potentially harm plant roots and microbial life required for effective waste degradation. Alkaline-rich soils, in contrast, are more deficient in nutrients like iron and phosphorus.

Several factors can influence a pH reading. Local precipitation rates, for instance, are among the primary factors that establish soil pH. Rainfall-prone regions tend to produce terrain that’s higher in acidity. Such conditions cause rainwater to wash away basic ions like calcium and magnesium.

The environmental and human activities associated with your local soil are two additional considerations. Heavy pesticide use or local sources of industrial pollution deposit acidic chemicals in the soil, lowering its pH. The amount of natural vegetative decay within a defined area also helps determine soil composition and pH levels.

The Basic Elements of a Septic System Explained

Septic systems consist of two fundamental components: a septic tank and a drainfield. The latter is sometimes referred to as a leach field. Both elements work in unison to let you treat your waste onsite.

The treatment process starts when your household’s wastewater channels from your plumbing system to your septic tank. This below-ground, watertight container is built from concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene material. The tank’s essential function is to hold incoming waste products long enough for the solid to settle at the bottom and form a sludge.

Any oil and grease products funneled into the system will rise to your tank’s surface as scum. The wastewater content between these two layers consists of partially cleared water. It is within this space that the natural bacteria action occurs.

These bacteria help break down the organics within your wastewater and reduce or eliminate the need for additives and wastewater treatment chemicals. As this process occurs, the liquid from your system (the effluent) disperses from the septic tank and into your drainfield.

The drainfield portion of your septic system consists of a gravel-filled area or similar aggregated space encased by a geo-filtration fabric layered over sandy soil. The effluent from your tank gradually filters through these elements before they’re absorbed and later purified by your soil’s natural below-ground filtration process. At this stage, the localized soil removes harmful pathogens as the effluent percolates back into your groundwater.

Your Drainfield and Its Relationship to Soil pH

As mentioned, septic drainfields receive the partially treated wastewater from your septic tank before further purifying it as the liquid trickles back into your groundwater. Drainfields are vital for the final stages of treatment because they filter and refine your wastewater before recycling it back into the environment.

When the effluent from your tank meets your drainfield, this soil’s natural filtration process depends heavily on its pH. Under ideal conditions, your soil should have a neutral (or close to it) pH reading to ensure the optimal microbial activity and chemical reactions necessary for adequately cleaning and filtering your wastewater.

Improperly balanced pH in your soil often impairs drainfield performance. Acidic soil condition or low pH increases the solubility of your soil’s heavy metal content such as aluminum and iron. These elements, in turn, will start to fill the porous spaces in your drainfield’s soil and gravel components.

Soil that’s low in pH contributes to drainfield clogging due to its poor filtration qualities that restrict water movement. As such, you can expect acidic soil to produce more backups and surface puddling.

Terrain that’s higher on the alkaline scale, in contrast, displays decreased microbial activities that are essential for treating the organic compounds within your septic tank’s effluent. So, with that, soil high in pH can render the sewage treatment process less effective.

For this reason, managing and monitoring your drainfield and its surrounding soil health is crucial. You should always remain conscious of any nearby encroaching vegetation or surface runoff that contains fertilizer or pesticides that could induce a pH imbalance.

How to Maintain Balanced pH in Your Septic System Area

Before balancing the pH in the soil around your septic system, you’ll need to start taking regular measurements to determine its levels. To do this, use a soil pH meter or test kit. You can readily access these online or at your local garden center. For the most accurate results, you might consider sending a soil sample to a laboratory specialized in pH assessments. These services also offer valuable details about your soil’s nutrient content and overall composition.

After determining the soil pH at your septic site, you may find that your pH level needs adjusting. If you discover the soil is too acidic and displays a low pH, you can use materials like lime or crushed limestone to raise its level. These substances will neutralize acidity while introducing beneficial materials such as calcium and magnesium.

When applying these additives, always be cognizant of the amounts used and interval frequency. Excess chemicals can easily disrupt the natural microbial process, and these substances might also seep into your groundwater and impact its quality.

We recommend that you contact one of our septic system specialists at Express Septic & Drain Cleaning before making any significant soil adjustments. We can help you reduce the likelihood of problems by providing a specific consultation on your system’s configuration.

Preventing pH-related Issues With Your Septic System

Your septic system’s health depends significantly on the pH balance of its surrounding soil. The best approach for preventing septic complications is to schedule regular maintenance checks with a seasoned professional, we also offer septic inspections. Our team at Express Septic & Drain Cleaning in Caldwell, ID, can help you avoid several common issues associated with imbalanced soil by checking your pH levels and monitoring your system’s health.

If we observe a soil problem, we’ll inform you of the corrective steps necessary to balance your soil and keep your system working optimally. Aside from septic system maintenance, we also handle residential drains and sewer lines. For more on improving the pH levels around your septic system or to schedule a service, call us at Express Septic & Drain Cleaning now!

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