What exactly is a drain field, leach field, leach bed or lateral line?

Drain fields, leach fields, lateral lines, cesspits, leach beds and other absorption beds are all basically designed to do the same thing – get rid of septic waste. So, what exactly are they and how do they help? Well, here is a brief overview of what might be attached to the other side of your septic tank.

Leach beds are pretty much of a simple design. A pipe leaving your septic system connects to a distribution box (in some case) where your effluents (liquids) are then dispersed into one of the many septic leach designs available. The drainage system is usually designed so as to allow water to flow out of the piping and into the surrounding soils.

Modern day piping is constructed of PVC with holes down the length of the field lines which allow water to escape. Gravel surrounds this piping, followed by special soils (in some cases) and then plain old dirt.

When waste enters your septic system it is broken down by bacteria into water and gas. While the solids are breaking down, they set at the bottom of the tank with the liquids floating all the way to about the top. When shower, dishwasher or any other type of liquid enter the tank, that same exact amount of liquid spills over to the line running toward you drain field. This process goes on and on, and works quite well so long as your leach field area can handle the liquid discharge. PVC piping is common, however, some older systems are constructed of clay tile and other materials used around the time when your system was installed.

You see, there isn’t a lot happening nor is there very much complication in the way septic leach fields work. If you take care of potential tree root problems and apply healthy septic system bacteria to your system on a regular basis, your system should last decades.