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Septic Tank Problems with the Distribution Box

Mitchell Brock

Homeowners living in areas -- such as rural areas -- with no connection to the city sewage system use a septic tank. The septic tank is a buried, watertight container with two compartments. One compartment stores and breaks down the solid waste. The second compartment is the distribution box.

The septic tank distribution box can have its own problems and cause a backup.

Many problems can occur to the distribution box to cause septic system failure.


A filter is located between the solid waste compartment and the distribution box. Other filters secure the openings at the mouth of the distribution box where water is released into the distribution pipes. Either one of these filters can clog, causing the septic system to back up into the residence. Homeowners must regularly clean the filters or replace them. These filters can also break because of the expansion and contraction of weather conditions, allowing large particles of waste to enter the distribution box.


Even though a septic tank is a solid mass of concrete or plastic, weather conditions can cause the distribution compartment to crack. Since water travels into the distribution box, the water can freeze in cold weather locations. The freezing water contracts, causing the distribution box side of the septic system to prematurely fail. The compartment can develop a crack and release wastewater directly into the ground instead of into the leach field, making it seep to the surface.

Pipe Connection

The distribution box side of the septic tank has several openings so pipes can connect to the side of the septic tank and release wastewater into the drain field, or leach field. The pipes generally seal to the side of the distribution box with the help of a seal or gasket. The gasket can deteriorate over time, causing wastewater to leak out into the ground instead of being evenly distributed throughout the leach field. Homeowners must replace the gaskets or seals when this problem occurs.

Clogged Openings

The openings on the distribution box can clog or pipes can break, causing wastewater to only release into the leach field through one or two openings. The reason for several different openings on the distribution box is to ensure the wastewater is evenly distributed throughout the leach field. A clogged opening causes more wastewater to run out of one opening. The wastewater is no longer being evenly distributed and causes wastewater to saturate only one section of the leach field.