Common Septic Tank Problems

When your septic tank system breaks down, it could mean big trouble (and big money) for you and your family. There are several telltale signs that your septic system isn’t running correctly, and if ignored for too long, then you could face serious property damage and health concerns.

In this post, our certified septic experts will explain the 5 most common problems with home wastewater treatment, the causes, and how you can prevent these problems before they strike:

ATTENTION HOMEOWNERS: if you do notice any of these septic tank symptoms, do not attempt to fix them on your own. Call a team of professionals to fix the problem quickly.

1.) Standing Water in the Drainfield

If you notice standing water in the area above the drainfield, then it means that extreme amounts of excess water are leaking into the surrounding ground. You should first find out if the standing water is untreated effluent or just excess water. Untreated waste will emit a foul odor and could pose a serious hazard.

  • What Causes It: Pools of untreated effluent could be the result of two things: leaks in the drainpipes or clogging in the tank, forcing untreated waste into the drainfield.
  • How to Identify It: Occasionally walk around the grass above your drainfield. If you notice a squishy or damp feeling that isn’t present elsewhere on your lawn, it means that the drainfield is leaking.

2.) Presence of Non-Biodegradable Articles

From feminine hygiene products to food waste, anything other than human waste and septic-safe toilet paper can pose a serious threat to the health of your septic system.

  • What Causes It: Your septic tank has a finite volume around 1000 gallons. When that space is taken up by non-dissolving solids, it means that water levels rise above their specified amounts, forcing untreated water down the wrong pipes.
  • How to Identify It: Slow draining pipes and standing water could both be signs of excess solid material in your septic tank. Call a pumping team to clean out solid wastes immediately.

3.) Solid Waste Overloads

This is surely the most common problem for septic tank owners when they forget to schedule routine pumping/cleaning appointments. When you go for years longer than you should on necessary pumping, waste in your system begins backing up fast.

  • What Causes It: Things like toilet paper and solid waste sink to the bottom of your septic tank, creating a layer of sludge on the bottom of the tank. When sludge levels rise too far, then the solid waste can actually be pushed into pipes which end up in your drainfield or back in your home.
  • How to Identify It: Check the receipt of your last septic tank appointment. If the date was more than 2 years ago, it’s probably about time for another cleaning. If you notice slow draining or extremely fertile grass above the drainfield, it could also indicate a solid waste build-up.

4.) Chemical Disposal into Septic Tank

Earlier, we pointed out that non-biodegradable products could spell trouble for your septic system. Chemical waste can also clog drainpipes or disrupt bacteria and nitrogen levels within the tank.

  • What Causes It: Cooking oil, paint thinners, pesticides, lawn fertilizers, and cleaning products can offset vital levels of bacteria in your septic tank. Never dispose harmful chemical products into your toilets or down your drain.
  • How to Identify It: When these toxic chemicals mix with wastewater, a common symptom is foul odor in the septic tank area or around toilets and sinks in your home.

Your septic system takes care of you and your home’s waste, so you should take care of it in return. The problems listed above are serious and could put your health and property at risk. The best defense against costly septic nightmares is to schedule pumping and inspections at regular intervals.