Leach Field Maintenance and Common Issues



The leach field, also known as the drain field, is a primary component of your septic system. It’s in charge of dispersing the purified wastewater that leaves your septic tank. If your septic system was properly installed, the leach field should be in a spacious, open area in your yard—not far from your actual house.

At first glance, your leach field might seem like nothing more than a space in the ground. But when it comes to the health of your septic system, the leach field is a complex beast. If it develops any problems, you may be faced with a septic system failure.

Needless to say, caring for your leach field should be at the top of mind. Let’s dive into the best practices for leach field maintenance, along with common issues.



Leach field care primarily involves the following:


Be Mindful of What Goes Down the Drain

Daily maintenance starts within the home. To start, avoid disposing food, paper towels, or other solid items in the drain. This includes food scraps like eggshells and coffee grounds. (Tip: Use them as plant fertilizer instead!) These materials can clog your system, causing a dreaded backup.

You should also refrain from pouring chemicals and heavy liquids—including fats, oils, and grease—down the drain. These substances can harm the bacteria in your septic tank, making it difficult for them to break down solids before the water enters the leach field.


Keep the Leach Field Clear and Free

Never plant trees, bushes, or other plants less than 10 feet from your leach field. The roots can become invasive and block the leach field pipes.

Similarly, avoid parking or driving vehicles on the area. This includes tractors, dirt bikes, and even go-carts. The weight of these vehicles can damage the pipes, especially when the soil is wet.


Regularly Pump Your Septic System

Staying on top of your septic pumpings is one of the best things you can do for leach field maintenance. As a preventive measure, regular pumpings can stop septic sludge from accumulating and sneaking into your leach field. This sludge can overload the area, ultimately causing drain field failure.

Most septic systems need to be pumped every 1 to 3 years, depending on the size of your household. Get in touch with your septic provider for a personalized recommendation.



By following the above guidelines, you can protect your leach field and avoid the following issues:

  • Slow draining tubs, washing machines, or showers
  • Gurgling drains
  • Sluggish flushing
  • Sewage backups
  • Sewage odor (outside or inside)
  • Standing water in the drainfield with lush, green grass

And if you already have these problems? Contact your local septic provider as soon as possible.



Since 1958, Paradise Valley Septic has specialized in leach field maintenance and common issues. We’ve provided septic replacements, repairs, and pumpings for thousands of homeowners in the Phoenix area.

Together, we can keep your drainfield healthy—just give us a call. Contact us at (480) 351-1725 today.




Clogged drains happen.

And when they do, your first reaction is probably to grab the nearest plunger and get to work. After all, if not taken care of quickly, clogs can lead to bigger problems down the line that can impact the health and longevity of your septic system.

But are you using the correct tool for the job?

Choosing the right plunger is the key to clearing a clogged drain so you don’t need to call in the professionals. Before you tackle the next clog, take a look at these common issues and see what the experts recommend for each one.



A cup plunger, sometimes called a sink plunger, is what most people have around the house. Its simple design features a rubber suction cup at the end of a long wooden or plastic handle.

Cup plungers work best on even surfaces where they can lay flat and create a good seal. For the best results, hold the plunger straight up (instead of at an angle) to create a strong suction. Then, lower the plunger slowly to release excess air and pull back gently. Repeat until the clog is released.



For toilet clogs, a cup plunger just isn’t going to cut it.

A flange plunger, sometimes just called a toilet plunger, looks like a cup plunger but with a small, narrow piece extending from the center. This piece is the flange, and its purpose is to improve suction inside a toilet bowl.

Beehive plungers look exactly like their namesake and are also great for clogged toilets. Because of their distinct shape, they can fit almost any toilet drain, which makes them a popular choice for homeowners.

When working to unclog a toilet, make sure your plunger is fully submerged. If not, fill a bucket from the sink or tub and add water until the head of the plunger is underwater.



If you know what an accordion looks like, this type of plunger should be easy to spot. Also called a bellows or bellows-style plunger (after the popular blacksmith’s tool), it looks like a flange plunger but with a collapsible body like the sides of an accordion.

Its unique shape makes it perfect for removing tough clogs, provided you have a good seal around the drain head.



While clogs can sometimes be the result of invasive tree roots or offset pipes, more often than not they are caused when things like food waste, hair (including pet hair), soap, grease and oils, and “flushable” wipes find their way down the drain.

To keep your septic system running smoothly and avoid the need for costly repairs, make sure only the right things end up getting flushed down the toilet or washed down your sink or shower drain. You should also have your septic tank inspected and pumped on a regular basis.

More questions about clogs and the health of your septic system? Call the experts at Paradise Valley Septic today at 480.351.1725 or send us a message online.

Does Shower Water Go into Your Septic System?



For many people, taking a shower is an activity that’s done without a second thought. Yet, if you own a septic system, it’s a good idea to know if shower water goes into your tank. This will help you understand how your daily habits affect your system, and ultimately, its overall health.



Every drain in your home leads to a single pipe. This includes your shower drain, along with the drains connected to your toilet, sinks, dishwasher, and washing machine.

In that one pipe, all the wastewater comes together. It then flows into your septic system, where “good” bacteria in your tank break down organic materials.

So, yes—shower water goes into your septic system! However, it doesn’t enter the tank by itself. Shower water converges with wastewater from other sources before flowing into the system.



Have you ever wrapped up a shower… only to find yourself standing in a puddle of water? Don’t ignore it, friends. Slow draining water could be a sign of a septic system failure.

Granted, it might also mean that your drain is simply clogged with hair. Try fishing out any hair and see if it helps. If the issue persists, you may be dealing with a much bigger issue.

In addition to a slow drain, a septic system failure can cause the following shower problems:

  • Dirty water backing up into the shower drain
  • Strong sewage odor
  • Gurgling noises



When it comes to septic system care, getting regular septic pumpings is a must. But it’s also wise to be mindful of your habits inside the home.

In terms of taking showers, try to:

  • Take shorter showers. When possible, keep your showers short and sweet. Taking long showers can waste a lot of water and overwhelm your system.
  • Fill the tub instead. If you want to soak in warm water for 30 minutes or more, take a bath instead.
  • Install a flow reducer. Also known as a flow restrictor or water restrictor, this device decreases how much water flows through your shower head. It conserves water and saves money on your water bill.
  • Fix leaks right away. If you notice a leak in your shower, get it fixed as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more you’ll waste water and stress out your system.



Have questions about your septic system? Talk to our team at Paradise Valley Septic. Our technicians can explain precisely what goes into your septic tank (beyond the shower water). We’re also happy to explain the best practices for other activities like doing laundry and using the dishwasher.

To learn more about our residential septic services, contact us at (480) 351-1725.

Standing Water In My Yard: What Does It Mean?


If you have a septic system, standing water in your yard should be a cause of a concern. Not only does it smell unpleasant, but it’s extremely unsanitary. Remember, that water came from your toilets and drains! Take it as a sign that your system needs attention ASAP.

By calling a septic provider sooner rather than later, you can determine the reason behind the standing water—and avoid bigger problems down the line.



A soggy, waterlogged yard may be due to one of the following reasons:

  1. Full Septic Tank
    When your septic tank is full, there isn’t enough space for incoming wastewater. This can make liquid flow back into the house, resulting in slow-flushing toilets and slow-draining sinks. However, liquid can also leak into the leach field, causing an accumulation of wastewater on the surface.
    The solution? Get a septic tank pumping. Next, create a regular pumping schedule to prevent the problem from recurring.
  2. Overuse
    Similarly, overwhelming your system can cause standing water. Here’s how: When water is continuously traveling down the drain, there’s a constant flow of liquid entering the tank and drainfield. As a result, the drainfield doesn’t have a chance to absorb the moisture and fully dry out.
    To remedy the problem, call your septic provider for a septic pumping. It’s also a good idea to spread out your water usage throughout the day and week. If your household is about to increase in size, make sure everyone knows what does and doesn’t go down the drain.
  3. Water Runoff
    If you recently received heavy rainfall, your drainfield might be flooded with water runoff. This is especially problematic if you live in Arizona, where the soil becomes hard and dry in the summer. When a monsoon hits, the water flows right over the soil because it’s so dry. This can flood your drainfield, resulting in standing water.
    In this case, talk to Paradise Valley Septic about installing a water retention system.
  4. Broken Distribution Box
    When water flows out of your septic tank, it enters a container called a distribution box. This container has holes with rotating devices, which release wastewater into the drainfield. If your distribution box is working properly, the water should be evenly distributed into the soil.
    But if the distribution box is damaged or leaking, it might release water into one area and cause water accumulation. Fortunately, your septic provider can easily repair or replace the box.
  5. Poor Drainage
    The problem might involve the landscape, rather than the septic system itself. For example, if the soil in the area is too compact, it won’t be able to properly absorb water. Likewise, having the wrong soil in your drainfield can lead to standing water. A septic technician can aerate the land—and add porous materials—to improve its overall drainage.



As a homeowner, discovering standing water in your yard can be stressful. However, you can count on Paradise Valley Septic to identify the problem. Our team has been repairing and installing septic systems in the Greater Phoenix area since 1958.

We’re ready to help. Contact us at (480) 351-1725 today.

What is a Septic Distribution Box?


When you think about your septic system, you likely think of two main parts: the tank and the drainfield. But do you know what a distribution box is? Also known as a d-box, the distribution box is an essential part of your system. What’s more, knowing how your distribution box works is crucial for keeping your system healthy and well.



A septic d-box is a container that receives wastewater from the septic tank. It’s buried underground in your leach field. The box is in charge of equally distributing the wastewater into the ground via field lines.



Like most of your septic system, the distribution box uses gravity. Since the leach field and box are located below the septic tank, the wastewater moves downhill as it enters the container. Additionally, the box has several holes with rotating devices. The devices control the wastewater flowing outward, ensuring an even amount enters each area of the leach field.

A working, reliable septic system relies on this function. If your distribution box is unable to evenly re-distribute wastewater, the liquid will accumulate in one section of your leach field. This can overwhelm the area, compromising the overall efficiency of the field.



If you notice flooding in one part of your drainfield, take note. Your distribution box is likely broken or blocked—and needs to be repaired or replaced.

This can happen due to several reasons, including:

  • Natural wear and tear
  • Sludge accumulation
  • Improper septic system care
  • Invading tree roots
  • Driving heavy machinery over the box
  • Flooding and other inclement weather conditions

The pipes leading to or from the box can also become clogged or damaged. Similarly, the rotating devices connected to the openings may fail, resulting in uneven liquid distribution.

Regardless, it’s important to call Paradise Valley Septic if you suspect a distribution box problem. The sooner the box is fixed or replaced, the sooner you can prevent larger septic issues down the line.



Distribution boxes can be made of concrete or plastic. As you can imagine, concrete versions are significantly stronger than their plastic counterparts. The boxes are also available in various sizes and shapes. The best choice depends on your specific tank size and type.



Staying on top of routine septic maintenance is one of the best ways to protect your distribution box. During your appointment, our experienced septic technicians can explain what a distribution box does and how it affects your system. We can also help you avoid future septic problems by identifying issues as soon as possible.

Contact us at (480) 351-1725 for professional, reliable septic service in the Greater Phoenix area.


Will There Be Smells After a Septic Pump?


Most homeowners recognize the importance of regular septic pumpings. Not only do they prolong the life of your septic tank, but they can also prevent backups and stinky odors. Yet, due to the nature of a septic pump, you may wonder if there will be smells after all is said and done.



It’s true that septic pumpings are effective for avoiding backups—and therefore, the stinky scents and headaches that come with them.

But sometimes, it can cause unpleasant smells too.

This isn’t an excuse to skip your routine septic pumping, though. Some causes of foul odors after a septic pump are normal and to be expected. In other cases, the odors might be due to a non-septic problem that requires immediate attention.



If your house smells like septic after a pumping service, here’s what might be to blame:

  1. Normal Air Circulation
    During the pumping process, the water in a septic tank is completely sucked out. This stirs up the natural (and smelly) gases in the tank, which can backtrack into your home. Don’t worry, though! The odor should go away in a couple of hours. You can speed up the process by running some water down every drain.
  2. Spilling During Pumping
    Ideally, your septic provider will perform the pumping in a neat and professional manner. This means zero stinky spillage outside of your septic tank. But if your septic technicians do a haphazard job, you may be left with septic waste on your property.No matter how bad the spillage looks or smells, do not clean it up yourself. This is unsafe. Ask the original septic provider to fix their mistake or consult a more qualified septic provider like Paradise Valley Septic.
  3. Damaged Toilet Seal
    Typically, toilets are connected to the floor with an airtight wax seal or ring. This seal stops flushed sewage from leaking onto your bathroom floor. At the same time, it stops smelly gases from filling up the bathroom. But like most things in a well-loved home, this seal can break over time.When this happens, you may have one stinky bathroom. The odors will likely be present even before your septic pump, but the process can simply worsen the smell. In this case, have a plumber replace the toilet wax ring.
  4. Faulty Plumbing Vents
    Plumbing vents help remove gasses and odors from your plumbing system. They consist of vertical pipes connected to your mainline. The pipes lead to a vent on your roof, which let the gasses out. When your plumbing vents are working properly, they also regulate air pressure in your septic system.However, if the vent becomes blocked, the gases will get stuck in the system. This will disrupt the air pressure and push foul odors through your drains, which may get worse after a septic pump. Again, you’ll want to contact an experienced plumber to fix the issue.



If you’re concerned about unpleasant smells after a septic pump, talk to the experts at Paradise Valley Septic. We can explain what’s normal during a septic pumping, so you (and your nose) know what to expect. Our team is also happy to address any questions you may have.

For professional septic service in the Greater Phoenix area, contact us at (480) 351-1725.

I Have a Septic System: How Many Loads of Laundry Can I Do in a Day?


For many folks, laundry is just another boring chore. But if you have a septic system, it’s crucial to think of laundry as anything but. As a major contributor to your household’s overall water usage, laundry can seriously impact the health of your septic system.

In fact, your laundry habits play a major role in long-term septic care and maintenance. This includes how many loads of laundry you do in a day.



Washing machines use a lot of water. Consider this: Older washers can use anywhere from 30 to 45 gallons of water per load, while high-efficiency machines use much less—about 5 to 30 gallons of water for the same load.

So, aside from investing in a high-energy washer, it’s wise to assess the way you do laundry. That’s because excess wastewater—from your washing machine or otherwise—can eventually strain your septic system.

With that said, avoid washing multiple loads of laundry in a single day. When you wash one load after the other, your system won’t have enough time to sufficiently treat and breakdown the waste. The result? Solid waste can build up, causing backups and drainfield problems.

This is even more likely if your septic system is overdue for a routine pumping.



Stick to one or two loads a day whenever possible. It’s the best way to protect your septic system and prolong its lifespan. If you decide to do two loads in a day, try to space them out. For example, do one load in the morning and one in the evening.

Admittedly, following these recommendations can be difficult if you aren’t home very often. But remember, the habit can make or break the fitness of your septic system. By spreading your laundry throughout the week, you can avoid potential septic problems in the future.



Be mindful of other household activities that rely on water, such as:

  • Taking showers and baths
  • Flushing the toilet
  • Using the dishwasher
  • Washing the dishes in the sink

The more these things happen when you do laundry, the more water will flow into your septic system. So, try to limit or avoid these tasks when it’s time to do laundry. (But obviously, if you need to use the toilet… please do!)

It’s also a good idea to wash your clothes when there’s a minimal household activity, like when the kids are sleeping or no guests are present.



When it comes to septic care, how many loads of laundry you do each day will make a difference. As a rule of thumb, try to spread out your loads throughout the week and always wash a full load. It’s also best to use liquid detergent.

If you have questions, talk to the experts at Paradise Valley Septic. We can provide more personalized recommendations based on the size of your system and household. Our team of septic technicians can also suggest the best pumping schedule for your situation.

To learn more, fill out our online form or call us at (480) 351-1725.

So…What Exactly Happens During a Septic Pump?



Routine septic pumping is essential for keeping your system healthy and well. In fact, it can be the deciding factor in its overall lifespan. But what happens during a septic pump, anyway? Let’s look at how a septic system is typically pumped.



In general, septic pumping involves the following steps:

  1. Locating the tank lid. Your septic technician will locate the lid of your septic tank. If you’re not sure where the lid is located, don’t worry! Our team can find it for you.
  2. Removing the lid. Next, your technicians will uncover the lids. Never attempt this yourself; it should only be done by a professional.
  3. Checking the tank’s liquid level. Once the lids are open, your technician will check the tank’s liquid level and compare it to the outlet pipe. This will help us determine if there are any leaks or issues with the drainfield.
  4. Pumping the tank. Now, it’s time to pump the tank. Your technician will insert a hose that is connected to a vacuum truck. The hose will suck out liquid and solid waste.
  5. Observing the outlet pipe. As the waste is pumped, your technician will check the outlet pipe for backflow. This will help them identify any drainfield backups or problems with the drainfield pipes.
  6. Washing the tank. Your technician will wash the tank with clean water to break down solids.
  7. Inspecting the tank. Your technician will examine the tank for signs of corrosion, damage, or leaks. This is just as important as pumping, as it allows your technicians to find issues before they get worse.
  8. Covering the tank lid. To complete the process, your technician will securely cover the lid.



To protect your septic system, keep an eye out for signs you need a septic pumping:

  • Slow draining or flushing. This is an early sign. In this scenario, you can avoid future problems by getting a septic pump ASAP.
  • Lush drainfield grass. This means excess waste is leaving your tank and “fertilizing” the drainfield grass.
  • Odor. If your toilets, drains, and septic tank area are stinky, you need a septic pumping.
  • Standing water. Water may pool on your property if your tank is full.
  • High nitrate concentration. Check the nitrate levels of your well water at least once a year. If your septic tank is full, nitrates can flow into the well water.



If you’re due for a septic pumping, contact us at (480) 351-1725 to schedule an appointment. We can explain what happens during septic pumps, along with how often you should get them. This depends on the size of your household and family.

Our team is also equipped to install and repair septic systems in the Greater Phoenix areas. Get in touch today!

The Best Dishwasher Detergent for Septic Systems



When you have a septic system, it’s extra-important to be mindful of what goes down the drain. This includes everything from laundry detergent to dish soap — and even toilet paper. But if you also have a dishwasher, it’s worth thinking about what kind of dish detergent you’re using, too.

Besides, it can be easy to toss in your favorite dishwasher soap and call it a day. This is especially likely if you’re used to washing dishes by hand or don’t use your dishwasher often. Regardless, in order to treat your septic well, choosing the best dishwasher detergent for septic systems is key.



Dishwashers, like washing machines, tend to use a lot of water. But when it comes to septic issues, this often isn’t the problem. Typically, the detergent is the one to blame.

For starters, dishwasher detergents labeled as “anti-bacterial” are bad news. They can kill your tank’s good bacteria, which are responsible for breaking down solid waste. This prevents your septic tank from filling up too quickly.

But without enough bacteria, solid waste will build up. The result? Back-ups, unpleasant odors, and a damaged drainfield.

Additionally, some dishwasher detergents have phosphates, which can kill the enzymes and bacteria in your tank. Phosphates are chemicals that help remove food and grime from your dishes. Unfortunately, these chemicals can seriously threaten the health of your septic system.
Phosphates are also toxic for the environment. After passing through a septic system, they linger in wastewater and enter natural bodies of water. Here, the phosphates feed harmful algae, which significantly decrease oxygen levels in the water. As a result, marine life (like fish) cannot survive.

In the United States, phosphates have been banned from laundry detergent. However, they’re still used in other types of household soaps – including dishwasher detergent. Only a handful of states have banned the use of phosphates in dishwasher soap.



When buying a dishwasher detergent, choose products that are:

  • Phosphate-free
  • Non-antibacterial
  • Eco-friendly
  • Biodegradable

Typically, a detergent that checks all these boxes will be labeled with these terms. They might also be called “septic-safe,” but it’s still wise to check the packaging and fine print.



In addition to choosing the right dishwasher detergent, there are other things you can do to protect your septic system while using the dishwasher:

  • Use the dishwasher when you aren’t doing laundry or using the shower. This can severely overload your septic tank. Instead, spread out your major water usage throughout the week or day.
  • Upgrade your dishwasher, if necessary. Older models tend to be less efficient than newer ones.
  • Always run the dishwasher with a full load. This way, you can make the most out of the water and energy.



Using the right dishwasher detergent for your septic system is the best thing you can do. Not only does it extend the life of your system, but it protects the environment as well.

For specific questions related to your septic, contact us at (480) 351-1725. One of our expert septic technicians will be happy to assist you.

Is Fabric Softener Bad for Septic Systems?



You already know that certain substances are bad for your septic system, which is why you make a conscious effort to keep your system functioning optimally. You follow the “no FOG” rule of keeping your drains free of fats, oils, and grease. You are careful about what your family flushes down the toilets, and you don’t do six loads of laundry in a row, so as not to overwhelm your septic tank.

These are all good ways to protect your septic system from damage and prevent backups, but if you’re using fabric softener for each load of laundry, you may be unknowingly disrupting the balance of bacteria in your tank. Here’s the truth about how fabric softener is affecting your septic system.


Fabric softener can have the same effect as cooking grease in your septic tank

You know not to pour cooking grease down your drain, but did you know that many fabric softeners are petroleum-based products? This thin layer of chemicals is what helps make your clothes feel softer, but it contains petroleum, as in oil.

Additionally, the most common fabric softening chemicals — quaternary ammonium compounds, or “quats” — have antibacterial qualities. These quats can actually kill the good bacteria in your septic tank — the ones that break down waste and keep your system running smoothly.

Many popular fabric softener brands also contain:

  • Acids
  • Silicone-based antifoaming agents
  • Emulsion stabilizers
  • Fragrances
  • Colors


While you don’t have to understand exactly what these chemicals are, what you do need to know is that they’re harmful to your septic tank’s self-sufficient system and equilibrium.

Some of the most popular fragrances and colors are a mixture of untested, toxic chemicals that can wreak havoc on your system and the environment. Petroleum products can also be toxic to the natural microbes in septic systems.


Natural alternatives are better for you and your septic tank

We understand that you want clean, soft clothes — who doesn’t? But, it’s much safer for you, your septic system, and the environment, if you choose natural alternatives to commercial brand fabric softeners.

You can find recipes for homemade liquid fabric softeners online, or you can simply add a half-cup of distilled white vinegar to your laundry during your machine’s rinse cycle.

Alternatively, you can use natural wool or bamboo dryer balls to add fluff and softness to your clothes in the dryer instead of the washer. (That won’t harm your septic tank at all!)


Start with a professional inspection from Paradise Valley Septic

The best way to learn if your fabric softener has caused damage to your septic system is to schedule a septic tank inspection. The experienced professionals at Paradise Valley Septic are experts at evaluating your entire septic system and identifying any existing or potential problems.

We can also offer suggestions for updating all the products in your home that might be harmful to your septic system.

For the best residential and commercial septic service in the Phoenix area, give us a call to schedule an appointment or contact us online anytime.



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