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What is a lateral line system?

This article will cover the common question of what is a lateral line system and what is its function. The lateral line that’s referred to here is not the lateral line that you see in fishes. The septic lateral lines are what’s going to take center stage here. For those who have just had the inkling to learn about their septic system, you may ask that inevitable question…What is a lateral line system?

Lateral lines are part and parcel of the septic system. When the septic tank is done with treating the wastewater with anaerobic bacteria, the pre-treated effluent runs through the lateral lines. These lines are pipelines that distribute the pre-treated effluent into the drain field. The lateral lines have holes under them that make this possible. There may be times when the pre-treated effluent may still have sludge with them. When these enter the lateral lines as well, they block the holes. When this lateral line blockage takes place, it is usually treated with pressurized water.

The hose is inserted into the pipes to let the water scour the pipe’s walls and get rid of the sludge. Problems of cracking and breaking are problems caused by driving over the drain field or freezing. If this happens, then replacement would be needed. You can never have smooth running lateral lines if they are damaged. It will only cost you every time they give you problems.

One vital thing that you have to do is locate your lateral lines. But how do you do this? Here are some steps that you could consider:

1. Search for your sewer pipe. You could look for it in the basement or crawl space. The direction of the sewer pipe could be determined by inspecting the outer part of your house.
2. If you have already spotted the sewer pipe on your yard, measure 10-20 feet from the pipe towards the direction it goes.
3. Use a thin, metal rod to probe about 2 feet until you hit the tank. Be careful when you do this so as not to damage the tank.
4. The drain field will be near the septic tank and so will the lateral lines. All you have to do is look for grass that is different from the rest in your yard. When the lines of grass are lush and much greener, these indicate the lateral lines. They are usually at the down-slope right beside your septic tank.
5. Look for mounds or depressions. The elevated or mounds are the fields of absorption while the depressions are trenches where the pipes are embedded.
6. If the drain field is very soggy or wet, this may indicate a leak or blockage that needs to be corrected immediately.

A metal detector may be used if you have trouble locating the septic tank. Septic tanks usually have metal reinforcements even if they are made of concrete. Remember to make your own map once you have established the septic tank’s location. This would be a very important reference for future inspections and treatments. Make sure that the proper measurements are taken down. Provide your septic expert with a copy of your map and keep several in your records.

If you’re going to replace the lateral lines, your septic expert may use an excavator. Here, the top soil over will be removed over the rock bed first. The geotextile fabric should be removed carefully so as to keep the top soil intact and separated from the layer of rock. The geotextile fabric should be disposed of properly, most preferably in your municipality’s dumpster. The supply pipe will then be cut with a PVC saw once it’s located. After measuring the lateral line pipes, they will be remove from the rock bed and should be disposed properly.

The trenches should be shoveled again to match the original depth. The new perforated pipe lines will then be placed in the trenches, with the holes facing down. A PVC primer should be used in cleaning the new pipes. Then, a coating of PVC cement should be applied on the supply and lateral pipes so that they would stick together. Twist the pipes about a quarter of an inch, and then hold them for thirty seconds. Install the new geotextile over the rock bed and replace the topsoil.

Talk to your septic expert for the proper care of your lateral lines so that it could reach its maximum lifespan. Make sure to ask him to explain to you what is a lateral line system and what is the purpose.

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