Clogged Drain Field – Is It Roots or Just Normal Back-Up?

We have all been there, well at least those of us who have experience with clogged septic systems and drain fields. System is a little older and has slowly over time begun to back up. We are aware of the problem, maybe we even pour some Rid X or other store bought remedy down the drains. Then we pick up the phone and call a local septic contractor, who visits the property and then promptly informs us we need a new drain field, to the tune of $5,000. What do you do next? What most people do may shock you, and if that doesn’t, how much money they are willing to spend just may.
As consumers, you need to remember that septic tank maintenance is a business, just like any other business. There is a consumer and there is a merchant, or contractor. What makes this transaction different than other significant purchases ranging in the 5-15 thousand dollar range, is that the consumer does not WANT to make this purchase, they feel that they NEED to make this purchase. The difference between “wants” and “needs” makes a large distinction in the way that consumers look at making purchases of this size, and believe me septic contractors know it!
Contractors tend to tell homeowners that the drain field problem is most likely caused by roots. Reason being, if it was caused by normal back up you could treat it with a top of the line septic treatment. If its roots, you can try to kill the roots but ultimately the odds are better that you will purchase a new drain field, and the contractor gets a nice fat check. Ask yourself, how long did they look at the system, did they do anything that you didn’t do before you called them?
As consumers we go into these types of transactions expecting to hear the worst. Psychologically we have accepted that we need to replace it, and with that acceptance, all negotiations tend to go out the window. We don’t ask about why the cost is what it is? We seldom even ask a second contractor or plumber for an opinion. To give you an example so you can visualize it; it would be like walking onto a car lot, asking no questions, skipping the test drive and paying the sticker price on the window all within a 15 minute period of time! It just wouldn’t happen, yet with septic systems it does.
Now not all septic contractors are the devil, but they do get paid for replacing your drain field, and for that reason you must treat them accordingly. While root damage can and does happen, typically 90% of the problems are due to normal back up and age of the system. A high quality septic treatment can eliminate septic smell and restore your system to functioning. While they are not overnight miracles, the 3-5 hundred dollars you spend is far more affordable than the alternative.
Just remember, you have a problem with your septic system, not with your head. Keep your wits about you and don’t fall for any “used car salesman” act. The vast majority of the time, homeowners can and should be using the best septic treatment rather than paying to replace their clogged drain field.

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