Septic tanks can be a mysterious and frightening thing to many. Most don’t know what how a septic system works, and it doesn’t help that it is buried in the ground for few to see. They are most popular in rural areas, and usually out of sight – out of mind. But when there is a problem and the septic tank backs up, it is messy and unpleasant. When it comes to your septic system problems, what is it that you should know?
Can Your Septic System Back Up Into Your House?
Unfortunately, yes. There are many issues that can cause septic system problems, and many end in black sewage that backs up into your toilets and/or drains. Luckily, there are many telltale signs that your septic tank is having problems that, if properly identified and taken care of early on, can be remedied before disaster strikes.
Signs You Are Having Septic System Problems
- One of the easiest signs to identify is if you have a large puddle of wastewater seeping up around your septic tank, which may or may not have a smell of sewage.
- The grass around your septic system is incredibly green, even in hot and dry weather conditions.
- Your toilets might flush and drain slowly, and your sinks might drain slowly.
- Foul odors around the house. This is usually due to poor ventilation and a good indicator of a failing septic system. Bad smells inside the house usually mean there are issues with ventilation and a possible sewage backup. Bad smells outside the house typically indicate drainage problems.
Reasons Your Septic System Might Have Failed
- Obstructions in your plumbing lines may be the problem. Flushing foreign objects down the drain is one of the top reasons for an obstruction. Toys, sanitary products, cigarettes, diapers, kitchen grease, even too much toilet paper can clog up pipes.
- Condensation attracts tree roots that are in need of nourishment. Roots make their way through small holes or cracks in pipes, slowly getting bigger and eventually bursting through. This problem can go unnoticed for a very long time before it eventually renders your septic system broken.
- Heavy rain water is an unsuspecting reason for a septic failure. Heavy rainfall can flood an area without sufficient drainage can leave your ground saturated and your system unable to keep water flowing. With nowhere for the water to go, it makes its way back into drains and toilets inside of your house.
- The excessive use of salt from a water softener that isn’t working correctly, or the many different household chemicals such as laundry detergent, dish soap, bleach or cleaning agents makes it hard for the natural bacterial action necessary for water treatment to happen.
- Septic system problems often arise from poor maintenance practices.
What Kind of Maintenance Does a Septic System Need?
As with any aspect of home owning, the key to keeping your septic system running efficiently is proper maintenance.
- Your system should be inspected and pumped frequently. The average household should have their septic system inspected once every three years, and pumped every three to five years. Your septic service provider will check for leaks, examine the sludge and scum layers in your tank, and look for any necessary repairs that you might need. Any repairs should be handled immediately.
- Conserving the amount of water you use goes a long way to keeping your septic system running smoothly as less water will be pumped down your pipes and into your septic tank. Installing things like high-efficiency toilets and showerheads will help to cut down on your water consumption.
- Remember that everything that goes down the drain goes down into your septic system and affects how well your system works. Make sure to dispose of waste in the proper way. Trash should not go down the toilet, and only a limited amount of food should go down the sink.
If done properly, care shouldn’t be complicated or expensive, and if done often enough can keep your septic system running for 30 years or more without need for replacement. If you are experiencing any problems with your septic system make sure to contact a qualified plumber who is capable of providing the right kind of maintenance and repairs.