Septic tank lifetime

A couple of questions here.
1) How long does a leach field last in an average septic system? Does it have to be replaced every so often even if it was used properly, or is improper use the only reason the leach field goes bad?
2) In an older septic system, how much impact force can the leach field take before damaging it? I have to fell a totally rotten tree and it will unfortunately land right on the field. I can of course minimize the blow by chunking the tree up rather than just chainsawing it down in one big cut. Even still do I have to treat the leach field delicately or can it tolerate moderate blows?
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From experience, I lived with a well and a septic most of my life. My parents house (of which I spent 20 years) had a leach field and septic that lasted the entire time they had (from 80-02) and is still without problem. My parents visited the ole homestead a couple of months ago and the owners didn't say anything about it. But I can remember having the tank pumped at least three times, with third being unnecessary, we had a back up and thought the tank was full, turned out only to be a clog between the house and the tank. My dad did use RID regularly and had rles about what was to go into the tank. My mom didn't use alot of bleach, cause dad said it would kill the bacteria. I drove my Toyota across the leach field, Hey I didn't know! But when pop got home and found my truck in the back of the house he knew there were only two ways of getting there. I sure has hell didn't want to get my truck dirty going through the access road though. Driving the truck over it never caused any problems to the field but you can bet I never did that again. The truck did get dirty on the way out though. I'm not sure what problem a severe impact of a tree falling on it would pose, but I would be safe and top the tree trying to lose as much weight as possible.
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Eigenvector wrote:

a lot depends on the type of soil. if you have good well drained sand, it will last longer than if your soil is marginally permeable. it is critical to get your tank pumped regularily--every three to five years. otherwise, solids can be flushed into your drainfield and will plug up the system.
how much impact a drainfield can take depends on what kind of system it is and how deep the drain tile or whatever are buried. if your pipes are several feet below the surface, i think they could take quite an impact. but i suppose you could get unlucky and spear a branch into the ground. but you could dig up a pipe and repair it i suppose.
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IF you're concerned, get pros to take down the tree - they can pull it a different direction.
Banty
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