Signs of Septic System Failure
- Water and sewage from toilets, drains, and sinks are backing up into the home.
- Bathtubs, showers, and sinks drain very slowly.
- Gurgling sounds in the plumbing system.
- Standing water or damp spots near the septic tank or drainfield.
- Bad odors around the septic tank or drainfield.
- Extra green grass, wetness or, in some particular cases, dead grass are also other indicators that you are on top of your septic tank. While your septic tank does not require constant monitoring, you should be on the lookout for these signs that your tank is not working like it should. Outside sewer cleanout is full of wastewater (sewage).
How do you know when septic tank fails?
The first signs of a failing septic system may include slow draining toilets and sinks, gurgling noises within the plumbing, sewage odors inside, continuing drainage backups, or bacteria in the well water. The area of the strongest odor will point to the location of the failure in the septic system.
How long does a septic tank usually last?
Because it is expensive to replace a septic system, proper maintenance is important. The more proactive you are in maintaining your system, the longer it will last. In fact, septic tanks can last as long as 30 years or more.
What is the most common cause of septic system failure?
Most septic systems fail because of inappropriate design or poor maintenance. Some soil-based systems (those with a drain field) are installed at sites with inadequate or inappropriate soils, excessive slopes, or high ground water tables.
How long can a septic tank go without being pumped?
You can wait up to 10 years to drain your tank provided that you live alone and do not use the septic system often. You may feel like you can pump your septic tank waste less frequently to save money, but it’ll be difficult for you to know if the tank is working properly.
Is my septic tank full or clogged?
If the septic tank is completely clogged, water will back up into the house quickly. If the septic tank is only partially clogged, the drains will become slow as the water struggles to wind its way down into the septic tank.
How do you tell if your septic tank is full?
How to tell your septic tank is full and needs emptying
- Pooling water.
- Slow drains.
- An overly healthy lawn.
- Sewer backup.
- Gurgling Pipes.
- Trouble Flushing.
What will ruin a septic system?
Any paper products like tissues, paper towels, tampons, or sanitary products, even some heavier toilet paper, will clog your system if you flush enough of it. Wet wipes are another product that you should never flush into a septic system.
How often do I need to pump my septic tank?
Household septic tanks are typically pumped every three to five years. Alternative systems with electrical float switches, pumps, or mechanical components should be inspected more often, generally once a year.
Can a septic tank never be pumped?
What Are the Consequences of Not Pumping Your Tank? If the tank is not pumped, the solids will build up in the tank and the holding capacity of the tank will be diminished. Eventually, the solids will reach the pipe that feeds into the drain field, causing a clog. Waste water backing up into the house.
Is Ridex good for your septic system?
How additives, like Rid-x, interfere with your septic system’s eco-system. According to the EPA and the Ohio Department of Health, not only are additives like Rid-X not recommended, but they actually have a detrimental and potentially hazardous effect on your septic system’s waste treatment process.
How much does it cost to pump a septic tank?
How much does it cost to pump out a septic tank? The average cost is $300, but can run up to $500, depending on your location. The tank should be pumped out every three to five years.
Can heavy rain cause septic backup?
It is common to have a septic back up after or even during a heavy rain. Significant rainfall can quickly flood the ground around the soil absorption area (drainfield) leaving it saturated, making it impossible for water to flow out of your septic system.
Can I shower if my septic tank is full?
Only the water would get out into the leach field in a proper system unless you run too much water too fast. The thing to do is to run your shower water outside into it’s own drain area, but it may not be allowed where you are. Used to be called gray water system.
What happens if you dont empty a septic tank?
Not emptying your septic tank regularly can result in a few different problems – toilets taking longer to flush, gurgling sounds in your pipes, even waste backing up to your house. Not only is this bad news for you, it’s also bad news for the environment as the waste can pollute local watercourses.
How do septic tanks look?
Septic tanks are typically rectangular in shape and measure approximately 5 feet by 8 feet. In most cases, septic tank components including the lid, are buried between 4 inches and 4 feet underground. You can use a metal probe to locate its edges and mark the perimeter.
Signs of Septic System Failure
- Flooding is occurring in the home as a result of backed up water and sewage from toilets, drains, and sinks Bathtubs, showers, and sinks all drain at a snail’s pace
- The plumbing system is making gurgling sounds. The presence of standing water or moist patches near the septic tank or drainfield
- Noxious smells emanating from the septic tank or drainfield
- Even in the midst of a drought, bright green, spongy luxuriant grass should cover the septic tank or drainfield. Algal blooms in the vicinity of ponds or lakes In certain water wells, there are high quantities of nitrates or coliform bacteria.
Septic systems, like the majority of other components of your house, require regular maintenance. As long as it is properly maintained, the septic system should give years of dependable service. If the septic system is not properly maintained, owners face the risk of having a dangerous and expensive failure on their hands. Septic systems, on the other hand, have a limited operating lifespan and will ultimately need to be replaced. Septic systems that have failed or are not working properly pose a threat to human and animal health and can damage the environment.
It is possible that a prompt response will save the property owner money in repair costs, as well as disease and bad influence on the environment in the future.
What happens when a septic system fails?
When a septic system fails, untreated sewage is dumped into the environment and carried to places where it shouldn’t be. This may cause sewage to rise to the surface of the ground around the tank or drainfield, or it may cause sewage to back up in the pipes of the structure. It is also possible that sewage will make its way into groundwater, surface water, or marine water without our knowledge. Pathogens and other potentially harmful substances are carried by the sewage. People and animals can become ill as a result of exposure to certain diseases and pollutants.
What are some common reasons a septic system doesn’t work properly?
The pipe between the home to the tank is obstructed. When this occurs, drains drain very slowly (perhaps much more slowly on lower floors of the structure) or cease draining entirely, depending on the situation. This is frequently a straightforward issue to resolve. The majority of the time, a service provider can “snake the line” and unclog the problem. Keeping your drains clear by flushing only human waste and toilet paper down the drain and having your system examined on an annual basis will help prevent clogs.
- Plant roots might occasionally obstruct the pipe (particularly on older systems).
- The inlet baffle to the tank is obstructed.
- In case you have access to your intake baffle aperture, you may see if there is a blockage by inspecting it.
- It is essential that you avoid damaging any of the septic system’s components.
- Avoid clogging your inlet baffle by just flushing human waste and toilet paper, and get your system examined once a year to ensure that it is in good working order.
- This may result in sewage backing up into the residence or surfacing near the septic tank as a result of the situation.
- If there is an effluent filter, it has to be cleaned or changed as necessary.
Preventing this sort of problem from occurring is as simple as cleaning your effluent filter (if you have one) and getting your system examined once per year.
It is possible for sewage to back up into the residence when the drainfield collapses or becomes saturated with water.
Additionally, smells may be present around the tank or drainfield.
It is possible that the system was run incorrectly, resulting in an excessive amount of solid material making its way to the drainfield and causing it to fail prematurely.
While it is conceivable that a drainfield will get saturated due to excessive quantities of water (either from enormous volumes of water flowing down the drain or flooding the drainfield), it is not always viable to dry out and restore a drainfield.
A connection to the public sewer system should be explored if the drainfield has failed and it is possible to make the connection.
It will be necessary to replace the existing drainfield if this does not take place. It is possible for a septic system to fail or malfunction for various reasons. Septic professionals should be contacted if your system isn’t functioning correctly.
How can I prevent a failure?
The proper operation of your septic system, together with routine maintenance, can help it last a long and trouble-free life. Assuming that your septic system has been correctly planned, located, and installed, the rest is up to you to take care of. Inspect your system once a year and pump as necessary (usually every 3-5 years). Avoid overusing water, and be mindful of what you flush down the toilet and what you flush down the drain. Learn more about how to properly maintain your septic system.
Can my failing septic system contaminate the water?
The appropriate operation of your septic system, together with routine maintenance, will help it last a long time with little problems. It is up to you to make sure that your septic system has been planned, sited, and built appropriately. Inspection and pumping of your system should be done on a yearly basis (usually every 3-5 years). Water should not be wasted, and what goes down the drain and into the toilet should be carefully considered. Find out more about how to properly maintain your septic system in this article.
Is there financial help for failing systems or repairs?
Yes, there are instances where this is true. Here are a few such alternatives.
- In addition, Craft3 is a local nonprofit financial organization that provides loans in many counties. Municipal Health Departments- Some local health departments provide low-interest loan and grant programs to qualified applicants. A federal home repair program for people who qualify is offered by the USDA.
- Septic System 101: The Fundamentals of Septic Systems
- Taking Good Care of Your Septic System
- A video on how to inspect your septic system yourself
- Using the Services of a Septic System Professional
- Safety of the Septic Tank Lid
5 Signs Your Septic Drainfield Has Stopped Working
Unlike municipal septic systems, which consist just of a subterranean tank that collects waste and water, residential septic systems are more complex. Water finally departs the tank through an outlet pipe and into a network of long perforated pipes known as the leech or drainfield after reaching the tank’s interior. The drainfield is equally as vital as, if not more so than, the septic tank in terms of wastewater treatment. In the event that this component of the system begins to fail, prompt action might mean the difference between relatively small repairs and a total drainfield replacement.
- Drainage is being slowed.
- As long as there is still any water in the pipes of the field, the drains in your home will continue to function, albeit at a slower rate.
- The presence of obstructions in the inlet or outlet pipe, as well as several other septic problems that are less difficult to resolve than drainfield problems, might result in delayed drainage.
- You may detect puddles or spongy and mushy ground all over the place if you look closely.
- A backup occurs when the water level rises to a level that forces sewage up the input pipe and into the lowest drains in your house, which is known as a back up in the system.
Drainfield leaks can provide visible consequences on the surface if the drainfield leaks at a higher rate than typical or contains decaying material that is meant to remain in the tank.
Returning Flow is the fourth step.
If you presume that the tank just need pumping, the service technician may discover water and sewage entering the tank from the outlet in a reverse flow, which would indicate that the tank requires more than pumping.
The presence of reverse flow from the drainfield is an obvious indication that you want jetting or pipe replacement services.
The Development of Odors In the end, you can utilize your sense of smell to detect indicators of drainfield issue.
Any sewage or toilet scents, even if they are weak and difficult to detect, signal that you should have a professional evaluate your home immediately.
This is the most effective way.
Whenever we observe a decrease in drainage capacity, we will inform you of the problem and your choices for resolving it before the system stops processing waste altogether.
In addition, we’re pleased to address any of your questions or concerns concerning your drainfield or septic system in general with a professional response.
6 Telltale Signs Your Septic System Is in Trouble (and You Need to Call in the Pros)
A well-designed septic system should provide you with years of trouble-free service as long as you utilize and maintain it appropriately. Yours might live as long as 30 years if you take good care of it. With that said, given the fact that it is underground, you might be wondering: How can you know when something is wrong with something? Here are the indicators that your septic system is having problems and that it is time to call in the professionals.
1. Water (or sewage) is backing up inside your home
It is possible for water—or a foul-smelling black liquid—to gurgle up into the drains in your kitchen or sink for a variety of reasons:
Your tank or drain field are too full
In your septic tank, as soon as unclean water and waste are introduced, the solids are separated from the liquids. The wastewater is finally forced out into a drain field, which is a network of subterranean tunnels or chambers where it may be collected and treated. Once there, any hazardous bacteria is either absorbed by the soil or digested by naturally occurring microorganisms in the environment. However, if your tank gets a large amount of water in a short period of time (for example, because of heavy rain or because you are using significantly more water than usual), the tank or the drain field may become overwhelmed.
A blocked pipe
The presence of a blocked distribution line somewhere between your house and your septic tank is another possible cause of water backing up into your home. Possibly you have a little child who has joyfully flushed an entire sock down the toilet, or perhaps you have a habit of flushing stuff down the toilet, such as not-so-flushable wipes. Take the initiative: Keep an eye on how much water you’re using. As suggested by Glenn Gallas, vice president of operations at Mr. Rooter Plumbing, “take brief showers, install low-flow toilets, and wash clothing over a few days rather than all at once.” Flush diapers, paper towels, tampons, or anything else that is not biodegradable down the toilet.
Indeed, over time, food waste might become clogged in your drain field due to the grinding it undergoes to become little bits.
2. Green, spongy grass around your septic tank
Although it may appear to be a terrible indicator, wilting grass on top of your septic tank is not always the case. (Because the dirt on top of your septic tank is typically not as deep as the soil over the rest of your lawn, it is easy for the grass there to get dry.) However, when the grass on top of your septic tank is prospering at a rate that is far higher than everywhere else in your yard, this is a warning signal. “Even if the environment appears to be lush and green, it is a clear indication that you are dealing with a serious situation,” Monell explains.
It essentially functions as fertilizer once it has escaped from your septic tank. Take the initiative: Regularly inspecting and pumping the system once a year can help you detect problems such as broken pipes, rust damage, and tank cracks early on. This will help you avoid costly repairs later.
3. You’ve got trees or shrubs near your system
Although it is admirable of you to desire to beautify the region, tree roots are naturally attracted to sources of water, which might include faulty pipes or even condensation. As a result of their need to obtain sustenance, they “may split septic tank pipes, enabling dirt to enter, or they can collapse the pipes completely,” according to Gallas. It is not necessarily better to have smaller shrubs because they have the potential to develop deep roots. Take the initiative: In order to plant a tree, first determine how tall it will be when it reaches maturity, and then keep it at least that distance away from your system.
Some trees, such as bamboo, pine, and walnut, have even more aggressive roots and will require you to plant them much further away from your septic system, so talk to your septic professional before you start digging.
Check the pipes every time your system is serviced to ensure they are not affected.
4. Water’s pooling in your yard
Gallas explains that a high water table or significant rainfall might occasionally fill the drain field, preventing the septic tank from emptying correctly. For those who believe severe rains are to blame for the little lakes in their yard, they might try to allow their septic system more time to catch up by using their water less frequently. (At long last, an excuse not to do the laundry!) However, if this does not eliminate the standing water, a plumber should be contacted. Take the initiative: Rainwater runoff should be directed away from your drain field.
If you have a sprinkler system, be certain that it is equipped with certified backflow devices.
5. A rotten egg smell
Yes, a foul sewage stench might be an indication that your system is malfunctioning. However, this is not always the case. In Monell’s opinion, there are numerous distinct reasons why you could be smelling septic gases: A dried-out wax seal on a toilet (which locks your toilet bowl to the floor) as well as a dry trap in a floor drain are examples of such things as this. (It is frequently filled with water, which prevents sewage gases from entering.) Take the initiative: According to Monell, if you have a chronic stench in your house, “the first course of action should be to examine all exposed fixtures, and if nothing is found, it should be followed up with a smoke test to detect leaks in the lines,” he adds.
6. Slow drains
Generally speaking, “slow drains are an indication that there is a blockage in the pipe itself that goes into the septic,” adds Monell. And, while you might be tempted to reach for the Drano or another drain cleaning, resist the temptation. Chemicals that are harsh on your pipes might cause them to corrode over time. In addition, chemical drain cleaners might destroy the beneficial enzymes and bacteria in your tank that aid in the breakdown of waste, according to Monell. Take the initiative: Make use of a natural product that contains bacteria and enzymes; the crud that has gathered within your pipes is delicious food for these organisms.
As Monell adds, “They digest the garbage and disseminate throughout your system, thoroughly cleansing it.” “On top of that, it’s entirely septic-safe.”
Common Septic Tank Problems and How to Fix Them
In the absence of professional plumbing training, it can be difficult to evaluate whether or not you are experiencing problems with your septic tank. If you live in a rural region, your septic tank may be your only means of treating and disposing of the waste generated by your household. The waste from your home is dumped into a septic tank leach field, which is also known as a septic drain field, once it has left your home. An underground facility designed to remove contaminants from the liquid that emerges after passing through the septic tank, the septic tank leach field is also known as a septic tank treatment field.
Fortunately, there are various symptoms that suggest that the leach field of an aseptic tank or the septic tank itself is malfunctioning.
- There is backup in your home’s drainage system or toilets. Backups and obstructions are most commonly caused by a septic tank that hasn’t been emptied in a long time, according to the EPA. A failed leach field in your septic tank means that the water that leaves your home will not be handled and treated at all. Your drains will become clogged as a result. The toilets in your home are taking a long time to flush — If all of the toilets in your home take a long time to flush, it might be a sign that your septic tank is overflowing. Due to the fact that this sludge is not being handled by your drain field as efficiently as it should be, it is creating delays in your toilet flushing. It takes longer for sinks and baths to drain now than it used to – A clogged septic drain field may be to fault if your sinks or bathtubs aren’t emptying as rapidly as they should be under normal circumstances. A septic drain field replacement may be necessary if you find yourself waiting an excessive amount of time for the tub to drain after a bath or for the sink to empty after cleaning dishes. It is discovered that there is standing water near your drain field or septic tank – The presence of standing water near your drain field or septic tank is the most obvious indication that your septic tank has been flooded and that your septic leach field is failing. Water remains in your septic tank after it has been cleaned and processed, and this is what causes standing water in your yard. Your septic tank and drain field begin to smell foul near your house or business — Both your septic tank and septic drain field should be free of foul odors, both outside and within your home. Carbon dioxide, methane, and hydrogen sulfide, all of which may be present in household garbage, are responsible for the scents you are smelling. In the vicinity of your leach field, you may notice a strong rotten egg stench, which may signal that sewage is seeping. Your health and safety, as well as the health and safety of others, are at risk as a result of this. You should contact a septic drain field replacement company as soon as possible at this point.
- What is the best way to determine when to empty a septic tank? How to Unclog a Drain Pipe (with Pictures)
Signs That Indicate you Need an Immediate Drain Field Replacement
So, how can you determine whether you require a septic drain field replacement rather than only a repair? The following are indications that you require an emergency drain field replacement:
- Septic tank failure due to a failure to clean or pump waste out of the tank on a regular basis – If you don’t follow your septic tank cleaning plan, you run the danger of having a septic drain field replacement sooner rather than later. Maintaining your septic tank and having it examined at least once every three to five years helps ensure that your drain field is functioning correctly. The number of people living in your home, whether or not you have a garbage disposal, whether or not you use water softeners, how many guests will be in your home at the same time, how often you do laundry, and whether or not you have a sewerejector pump all influence how often you need to have your septic tank pumped. This one is rather self-explanatory: you have broken pipes in your drain field. If your plumber is checking the pipes leading to and from your leach field and detects a break in the pipes, you will need to have a septic drain field replacement performed immediately. In the event of a septic pipe break that cannot be repaired, new pipes or a complete system may be required. Lack of oxygen in the septic tank as a result of a significant amount of grease – An excessive amount of grease in your septic tank system results in the formation of a “scum” layer. It is possible that your leach field is being replaced. Following an overabundance of grease being dumped into your septic tank, the drain holes and piping leading to your drain field will get clogged, necessitating the replacement of the whole system. Tree roots placing strain on your drain field piping — When tree roots begin to grow into your drain field piping, it might spell doom for your drainage infrastructure. These tree roots have the ability to develop swiftly and will seek out a source of water as soon as they can. If the pipes delivering water to your leach field are large enough, the tree roots will eventually find their way there, perhaps rupturing the piping system. Compaction of soil caused by heavy machinery or automobiles near your septic tank drain field – Drain fields that are close to air pockets in the soil surrounding them. When heavy equipment or automobiles are parked or put on top of or near the leach field, it can cause issues for the system to malfunction. A compacted soil environment encourages water to collect near your septic field.
Common Septic Tank Problems and How to Fix Them
You probably don’t give much thought to what happens to your extra water after it has been flushed down the toilet unless anything starts to go wrong with the plumbing. It is critical that you do thorough septic tank repair on a regular basis in order to minimize costly damage. You must first locate your septic tank before proceeding with any further steps. Due to the complexity of your septic system’s operation, and the fact that much of it is underground, issues with it can often go undiagnosed for extended periods of time.
Most likely, one of these five factors is to blame for any septic tank issues you’re now experiencing.
Clogs in Your Septic System
In order to determine whether or not you have a septic tank problem, remember back to the last time your tank was cleaned. Septic tanks accumulate waste over time, and grey water drains through your septic tank to drain pipes that are buried underground in the earth in your yard. In the event that your tank becomes overflowing, you may begin to notice that your drains are becoming slower and that your toilet is becoming backed up. Each and every source of water in your home passes through your septic system before being used.
- If you have had your septic tank drained within the last year or two, you will most likely not need to have it pumped out again.
- If you notice that all of your drains are draining slowly, you most likely have a clog in one of the lines that drain away from your property.
- Because the diameter of these pipes ranges from 4 to 8 inches, they are likely to be thinner in certain regions than others.
- You may be experiencing some sewage backup into plumbing fixtures in your house or accumulating near your septic tank if your drains are working properly but you’re not sure what’s causing it.
- It’s possible that the problem is in your septic tank’s entrance baffle, which you should be able to see if you have access to this area of the tank.
If there is a blockage in this baffle, you should be able to tell immediately. In certain cases, pushing the clog via the access port may be sufficient to clear it out. If you’re unclear of how to access any of this, you should seek the advice of a professional plumber.
Tree Roots are Infiltrating Your Pipes
Tree roots that are in the way of a septic tank’s operation can also be a source of problems. Whether sewage is beginning to back up into your drains, there are inexplicable cracks in your driveway and sidewalk, or you notice persistent puddles and damp spots in your grass even when it hasn’t rained, it is possible that roots have penetrated your plumbing system. Roots may develop fractures in your drain pipes, and if they continue to grow over time, these fissures can expand and cause significant damage.
The installation of modern, plastic pipes that are capable of withstanding root damage can help you avoid the problem of root penetration.
Root growth inhibitors are also recommended if you have trees near to where your pipes are located, since this will prevent them from growing.
You should chop down any trees whose roots are penetrating your pipes and remove the stumps in order to prevent roots from sprouting back after you’ve cleaned out your pipes if you are able to bear the thought of doing so.
Leaks in Sewage Tank or Lines
Many homeowners dream of having lush, green grass, but if your lawn is vibrantly green but the plants around it are dead, it might be an indication of a septic tank leak, according to the American Septic Tank Association. Experiencing unexplained green grass might also be an indication that your septic tank is pumping out an excessive amount of water, soaking your yard. Moreover, there may even be sewage accumulating in your yard in this situation. This is an issue that should be addressed by a plumbing specialist as soon as possible in order to minimize any potential health risks and costly damage to your property.
IncorrectSeptic Tank Installation
The proper installation of a septic system allows the system to operate smoothly. Know if the firm who built your septic system done it in an accurate and timely manner? Most likely, if you bought an older property, you have no idea who built the septic system in the first place. Furthermore, because you can’t look into your septic system, you have no idea what’s going on down there as well. Failure to bury the tank deeply enough, installing the incorrect-size tank, or utilizing the incorrect soil in the drainfield are all examples of installation problems that can result in septic tank failure.
Increased Water Use
Before it overflows, your septic tank can only contain a certain amount of water. Septic tanks can collapse if there is a high number of people who depend on them for their water. If you have a big family, expect a significant number of long-term guests, or often hold parties, you should get your tank examined to ensure that it is the proper size. If this is the case, you may need to consider upgrading to a larger tank. Your septic system is capable of withstanding a lot of abuse, and it should continue to function well for many years provided it is properly maintained.
If you see any indicators of septic tank difficulties, such as clogged pipes, root infiltration, or sewage leaks, act promptly and call The Original Plumber for a septic tank check to ensure that any problems are resolved as soon and efficiently as possible.
Why Is There Dead Grass Over My Septic Tank?
iStock/Getty Images image credit: singjai20/iStock
In This Article
- Don’t water the grass that has died. The septic tank is operational
- Grass that is lush and green
- Precautions and septic tanks are recommended.
The presence of dead grass above your septic tank is, strangely enough, a favorable indicator. It indicates that your septic system is most likely operating as it should be doing. In dry or warm weather, the grass becomes brown because it is not receiving enough water, which is mainly owing to the shallow layer of soil above the tank. Watering the brown grass, on the other hand, is the worst thing you can do.
In dry or hot weather, dead grass above the septic tank shows that the septic drain field is absorbing and filtering the wastewater into the surrounding soil. When the temperature cools down and the rainy season approaches, the grass will begin to recover.
Don’t Water the Dead Grass
Even though brown grass over your sewage tank is an unsightly annoyance, your lawn should recover in the fall months. The addition of extra water to the brown grass limits the ability of your leach field to absorb wastewater from your home and may potentially result in the failure of your wastewater treatment system. Even when the grass becomes brown because there isn’t enough soil to maintain its root system, you shouldn’t deposit topsoil over your tank or leach field since it will clog the drains and create flooding.
- Increasing the quantity of dirt in your system limits the amount of air available to the microorganisms that break down the wastes in your system, which might result in the system failing altogether.
- The solids, also known as sludge, settle in the septic tank, where helpful bacteria break them down and dispose of them properly.
- Water from the middle tank drains from the tank to the leach field through a network of drain pipes that are strategically placed across the leach field.
- Even after it has been cleaned by bacteria in the soil, the leftover wastewater flows into the groundwater.
- Compacted soil, as well as moist, soggy soil, has less oxygen in it, which inhibits the capacity of the microorganisms to perform their functions properly.
- You have liquid waste accumulating in the trenches of your leach field because the soil is unable to absorb any further water from your home.
- A blocked or broken line connecting the home to the septic tank, as well as a clogged baffle on the tank, can cause wastewater to escape into the soil and pollute the environment.
Toilets that are sluggish to drain, sewage smells, and sewage backing up into the house or appearing on the leach field are all indications that something is wrong. Most septic tanks require pumping out every one to three years in order to operate at peak functionality.
Precautions and Septic Tanks
Make sure not to dig too far into the ground while planting over your septic system. Drain lines can be as near to the surface of the soil as 6 inches. Drain lines are not always visible. When working with soil over a septic system, it is important to use gloves, safety goggles, and a mask in order to limit exposure to potentially hazardous organisms. Make certain that the tank lid and any other covers or hatches are properly secured; accessing a septic tank can be a life-threatening mistake owing to the fumes released by the decaying sludge.
It is recommended to use ornamental grasses and herbaceous plants such as catmint (Nepeta spp.
in zones 3-9), and vervain (Verbena spp.
You should avoid planting any produce over a sewer system since you run the danger of bacterial contamination of your food.
How Can I Tell if My Septic Tank is Failing or About to Fail?
There is nothing quite as uncomfortable as a septic system that has gone bad on you. The most typical causes of septic system difficulties are sediments clogging and blocking the system, tree roots obstructing the system, damaged pipelines, and an obstruction inside the septic pipes. When large amounts of wastewater flood sludge out of the tank and into the distribution pipes, the most common cause of in-pipe blockage is a clog in the distribution pipes. One of the most common reasons for system failure is the natural aging process, which is accompanied by the formation of a biomat.
By keeping a look out for many warning signals, a homeowner can take proactive steps to prevent an approaching failure.
First Signs of a Potential Problem
A malfunctioning septic system may manifest itself in a variety of ways, including sluggish draining toilets and sinks, gurgling noises in the plumbing, sewage aromas inside, continuous drainage backups, or germs in the well water. If any of these symptoms are present, look for more pronounced signs of a septic system failure that may be present. Check the absorption field for scents that are abnormally strong. In the event that untreated sewage penetrates into the surrounding soil, gases produced by the decomposition process rise to the surface and may be clearly identified.
In most cases, the location of the greatest odor will correspond to the site of the septic system failure.
The most easily recognizable visible symptom of a septic failure is the presence of lush patches of grass or locations in which the plants are growing significantly more than in other areas. Consequently, it is possible that the effluent is seeping into and surrounding that particular location. Because of the high concentration of dissolved nitrate and phosphate in septic effluent, it may be used as a powerful fertilizer. These thriving spots of growth may be indicative of a leak. It is unfortunate because it may also suggest a system that has failed at an advanced stage and would require costly repairs.
The presence of this condition indicates that the soil around the site has gotten saturated with untreated waste material.
This condition poses a major health threat, and a licensed professional should be brought in to do an evaluation of the issue immediately.
A homeowner should never attempt to enter a cesspool or septic tank since drowning or asphyxia by the trapped gases within the tank might result in significant injury or death to themselves or others.
If the septic system fails completely, it may be necessary to replace the entire system, which can be rather expensive. It is possible to save substantial money in the long run by staying on top of early indicators of a potential problem and having a regular inspection and cleaning performed.
Crazy Old Theory: Should You Really Throw a Whole Dead Chicken in Your Septic System?
According to what I’ve read, dumping a full, dead chicken into my septic tank can help to reduce the frequency with which the tank needs to be pumped, because the bacterial activity caused by the rotting corpse is effective at decomposing sewage. True? A: This notion, like the legend of the Jersey Devil and other urban legends, appears to have taken on a life of its own. After hearing about it from readers who claimed to know people who had been using the approach for decades, I began researching it in the late 1980s.
- Adding anything to your septic tank to encourage decomposition, whether then or today, is likely to have the opposite impact you intend.
- The only thing these people are actually accomplishing is adding to groundwater pollution by discharging bacteria-laden muck from a system’s overburdened tank into the system’s leaching area (the buried pipes that receive the outflow, known as effluent, from the septic tank).
- The center recommends against the use of septic additives until such time as there is compelling evidence to the contrary.
- Annual inspections and pumping are recommended for the average system every three to five years.
- By using common sense to any service provider’s recommendations, you may determine whether or not he is trustworthy.
- Roy Berendsohn is a Senior Home Editor of the New York Times.
- Roy Berendsohn has been writing for Popular Mechanics for more than 25 years, covering a wide range of topics such as carpentry and masonry as well as plumbing and electrical.
- This material was generated and maintained by a third party and imported onto this website in order to assist users in providing their email addresses for further consideration.
Common Septic System Myths
There are several misconceptions and fallacies around the proper care and maintenance of septic systems. Avoid believing these popular fallacies to save your septic system from suffering lasting harm. MYTH1: My septic tank isn’t in need of pumping until I notice a foul odor. People frequently wait until they are experiencing problems with their septic system before getting it drained. Most of the time, you will be reminded that your tank need pumping when you smell anything nasty or notice sluggish drainage.
- The problem is that by the time these “signs” appear, you’ve already delayed far too long to have your septic tank professionally drained.
- Septic system difficulties are frequently caused by an overabundance of particles accumulating in the septic tank.
- During the time that particles are trapped in the septic tank, liquid is allowed to flow out of the tank and into the absorption area.
- Despite the fact that there are no visible indicators of a problem, if you wait too long to have your septic tank pumped, sediments will begin to flow out of the tank and into the absorption area.
- Your tank should be pumped every 2 to 3 years, as a general rule, in order to prevent permanent damage to the absorption area.
- It is too late by the time you notice an odor or notice that your toilets are flushing slowly; you have already delayed too long to act.
- It is believed by some that the use of additives might eliminate the requirement for regular septic tank pumping services.
A miraculous powder or liquid that you may pour into your septic tank will not be effective in removing sediments.
To ensure that a healthy amount of helpful bacteria exists throughout your septic system, bacteria enzymes such as CCLS can be beneficial.
This is especially critical if you use strong cleaning products or medicines on a frequent basis.
FACT:Even if you use an additive, you should have your septic tank pumped out every 2 to 3 years to ensure that all of the sediments are removed.
Even though it appears to be a peculiar old wives’ tale, we’ve had a slew of queries about it throughout the years, and there are folks who have been using this “method” for decades.
This is incorrect.
At the very least, this will accomplish nothing.
If your septic system is in need of more bacteria, apply an authorized additive such as CCLS Bacteria Enzyme to provide the necessary bacteria.
Do not use your septic tank to dispose of raw meat or deceased animals.
In the event that you are new to owning a property with an on-site septic system, it is crucial to note that you cannot treat your on-site septic system as though it were public sewage.
It is not recommended to flush nonbiodegradable goods, unused medications, or strong cleaning products down the toilet.
Flushing things such as these may increase the frequency with which your septic tank is drained and may even cause your drain field to get clogged.
Additionally, you must be cautious about what you flush down your drains and toilets.
Paints, oils, solvents, and other abrasive compounds should never be flushed down the toilet.
Grease should not be washed down the sink since it might pile up and cause blockages.
If you have a garbage disposal, use it carefully to prevent the need for more regular pumping. FACT: The only things that should be flushed down the toilet are water, toilet paper, and human excrement.
5 Top Myths About Septic Systems
PlazacCameraman courtesy of Getty Images The chances are good that you’ve received some incorrect information regarding how to manage your septic system. The following are the five most common septic system misconceptions debunked.
Septic Myth1: Pump-Outs Are Unnecessary
The reality is that having your aseptic tank pumped out every two or three years is the most effective and cost-effective approach to maintain your system running properly. Septic additive firms are responsible for spreading the no-pump fallacy. According to the claims, adding hidden bacteria and enzymes to the system can promote full sewage digestion, hence removing the need to have the tank pumped every few years or more often. It’s an appealing concept, but it’s also hazardous and heavily reliant on hope.
And, more importantly, is there truly an addition that can induce the complete digestion of hair, lint, fingernail clippings, fat, and all of the other indigestible elements that accumulate on the floor of a septic tank’s tank floor?
Septic Myth2: It Doesn’t Matter What You Put Down the Drain
It does make a significant difference what you put into a septic system. Septic systems can be fairly reliable and trouble-free, but flushing poisons such as drain cleaner, disinfectants, and solvents down the toilet can reduce, if not completely eradicate, the bacteria that digest sewage, increasing the likelihood of system failure. For example, one cup of household bleach will completely eliminate all beneficial microorganisms in a 1,000-gallon septic tank for an extended period of time. These microorganisms will ultimately re-establish themselves, but it will take some time before some sewage goes uneaten.
There are only two types of waste that may be securely disposed of in a septic system: wastewater and sewage waste.
Septic Myth3: Flushing a Dead Mouse Down the Toilet Helps a Septic System
Some believe that a dead mouse carries specific bacteria that boost the efficiency of a septic system. This is incorrect. You’re injecting a new infusion of helpful bacteria into the environment every time you flush the toilet for the typical reasons. While the classic mouse method appears to be clever and reassuring, a few ounces of dead animal does not provide anything important that isn’t already provided by other means. Flush dead mice down the toilet if you wish, but remember that you are doing your septic system no favors by doing so.
(See Myth No.
Septic Myth4: You Can’t Expect a Septic System to Last More Than 20 Years
To be honest, many septic systems are still in fine operating order after more than two decades of operation. I know this because I’ve met a lot of folks who have systems that are more than 20 years old. The oldest one I’ve seen so far is 49 years old and is still in fine functioning order. I’ve also saw septic systems collapse after only five years of operation on the other end of the spectrum. The operating life of a septic system has a lot more to do with management than it does with an arbitrary life expectancy assumption.
In order to increase the likelihood of your system having a long operating life, have the tank pumped every two or three years, avoid flushing chemicals down the toilet, and maintain your leaching bed mowed and clear of anything other than grass.
Septic Myth5: Clogged Septic Systems Must Be Replaced
However, many blocked septic systems may be repaired with routine maintenance, and hence replacement is not necessarily essential in these situations. It is usually possible to resolve three of the most common causes of clogs: indigestible sewage solids entering the leaching bed, slimy biomat growths obstructing the holes in perforated leaching pipes, and physical clogging of the leaching pipes by tree roots without having to replace any parts of the system. Instead, look into a procedure known as “jetting,” which entails placing access holes on the ends of the leaching pipes so that you may flush them out with an internal pressure wash.
With the exception of having the septic tank emptied every few years, jetting is the most straightforward and cost-effective method of reviving a broken or malfunctioning system.
And while we’re on the subject of septic systems, these are the top 20 dirtiest occupations in the planet.
Brown Grass Over a Septic System
Septic tanks are often dug behind or to the side of your property in order to be as inconspicuous as possible to you. The installers cover the sewage system with gravel and dirt, allowing your lawn to grow healthy above the system while not attracting attention to the septic tank itself. When your grass becomes brown, it is most likely because the soil is drying up too rapidly – this may make your lawn appear ugly, but it does not indicate that there is a problem with your irrigation system. Brown patches or lines appearing over your septic system indicate that the soil underneath the grass is not receiving adequate water.
This isn’t nearly enough to keep much moisture in.
Watering more often can be beneficial, but the grass should recover on its own as soon as the weather begins to calm off.
Despite the fact that this wastewater delivers additional nutrients to your lawn, making it appear lush and full, it may ultimately become a swampy, unpleasant mess if not addressed by a septic system specialist in a timely manner.
Septic System Do’s and Don’ts Outflow Technicians
Your septic system treats wastewater by utilizing both aerobic and anaerobic microorganisms to break it down. Millions of anaerobic bacteria are hard at work in the tank itself, breaking down whatever is there. The leach field is a collaborative effort of anaerobic bacteria and aerobic bacteria, which forms a biofilm that grows both inside the pipes and outside, on the gravel bed on which the pipes are resting. Here are some tips for keeping these microorganisms happy so that you may continue to utilize your faucets and drains.
This can occur when the tank is not pumped frequently enough or when it becomes overwhelmed by an excessive amount of effluent.
Eventually, sediments leaving from the tank will clog the pipes, making it impossible for liquids to force their way through them any more.
Pumping your tank on a regular basis and keeping track of your water use might help to significantly lessen your chances of experiencing leach field issues.
Despite the fact that antibacterial soaps and bleach can help save lives, they do so by destroying germs.
Fortunately, the few drops of bleach you use to clean your toilet bowl are unlikely to cause a problem; nonetheless, you should avoid flushing cleansers down the toilet bowl entirely.
Whatever you hear, you should never put a dead chicken in your septic tank, regardless of what you hear.
Raw hamburger, dead lambs or cats, yeast, and chopped cabbage are among the other products to stay away from.
Incorporating anything into the tank that it was not designed to manage (such as dead animals) is more likely to cause harm than benefit.
The question is, what happens if you are forced to use antibiotics or other treatments that may harm the microorganisms in your aquarium?
Although enzymes and other additions (such as chemicals) are permitted, they should not be used since they may cause harm.
Softener brine should not be sent to the tank Ion-exchanging water softeners use a significant amount of rock salt, as you are surely aware if you own one.
Furthermore, because salt is a preservative and antibacterial, it is not recommended that you throw it into your septic tank.
These dos and don’ts are just some fundamental guidelines for keeping the bacteria in your septic system happy and productive while processing your wastewater.
If you need to have your septic tank pumped out soon, or if you’re just searching for expert assistance on a septic problem you’ve observed recently, please don’t hesitate to contact Pete’s Outflow Technicians.