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Septic Troubleshooting – Common Septic Issues and Their Causes

The popularity of septic systems in America can be explained by several qualities common to septic technology. Septic systems are simple, affordable, and versatile, and they allow homes to be built away from municipal sewer lines with ease. But at the end of the day, septic systems have one truly outstanding feature that makes them a go-to choice for homeowners: reliability. 

Septic systems have been known to operate for decades or longer with only regular pumping, cleaning, and minor maintenance. That’s not to say, however, that septic technology (or any technology, for that matter) is ultimately fool proof. 

Here are the most common septic system issues and their likely causes.

Issue: Water Backup/Slow Drainage

For homeowners with septic systems, any irregularities in the water flow of toilets, showers, or drains may be a sign of trouble. Your septic tank makes room for incoming water by discharging treated waste water into your drain field at an equivalent amount. For example: if you flush a 1.5 gallon toilet, 1.5 gallons of wastewater should be discharged from your tank to make room. 

If you’ve noticed a small amount of water bubbling back up into your sink, or if your drains have been noticeably slower than before, there’s one likely cause to blame.

Cause: Clogs

Septic system clogs come in all shapes and sizes. If you’ve flushed any non-organic waste recently (such as a diaper, cat litter, wipes, paper towels, and feminine hygiene products), then user error may be to blame. Otherwise, there could be a pressure differential in your tank or a malfunctioning component. If you haven’t flushed any of these non-flushable items recently, or if you suspect you have a clog, you may need to call a trusted maintenance provider. 

Issue: Standing Water/Puddles

Septic systems dispose of waste water by slowly releasing that water into the drainfield. Once in the drainfield, waste water should percolate down into the soil where it’s naturally purified by roots and sediments over time. If you’re noticing standing water, puddles, or uncharacteristically green grass, there could be a serious issue.

Cause: Leak or Clog

Among the more severe causes for standing septic water on the lawn, leaks can be a sign of minor or total system failure. A leak in the tank may require a new tank altogether. A leak in one of the lines leading to or from the tank may require excavation and replacement. A clog could also be responsible for the improper discharge of wastewater into the surrounding grounds.

Finally, if you’ve recently built a structure on or near your drain field, that structure may be compacting the loose soil and gravel around your tank’s lines, causing a backup. Remember to build far away from your drainfield to keep your septic system working properly for years to come.

Issue: Strong, Unpleasant Odors

Both in and outside the home, strong odors spell trouble. Unpleasant odors in the bathroom, at the kitchen sink, or on the lawn may each have different causes—some more and some less severe. 

Remember to pay attention to where and when the odors are most powerful. Do you only notice the smell when flushing the downstairs toilet? Is the smell strongest after a load of laundry? Is there one spot on your lawn where you notice an odor the most? These distinctions can help you pinpoint the issue. 

Cause: Component Failure/Full Tank

In cases where the odor is localized to one toilet or bathroom, a simple hardware failure in your toilet or shower drain may be the cause. These qualify as much easier fixes than an issue with your septic system.

Other causes include a hole or leak in your septic system, a minor component failure, a blocked vent, or a worn out floor drain trap. You may also notice a stronger aroma at the site of the tank when the tank is full. Remember to schedule regular pumpings roughly every three years.

Many Problems, One Solution

In all of the above issues, there’s one surefire solution: call your trusted septic maintenance company. With proper care and regular maintenance/pumping, your septic system can run smoothly for decades to come. 

For the safety and comfort of your family, and to maximize your return on investment, keep an eye, ear, and nose out for these most common septic issues. 

Economy Septic is ready to help today!

Basic issues usually have basic causes, but as simple as septic systems are, they can throw a curveball at us from time to time. If you’re uncertain about what’s causing your septic system’s problem, trust in the professionals at Economy Septic Tank Service. At Economy Septic, we pride ourselves in knowing everything there is to know about septic systems. No problem is too big or too small for our trained technicians. For problem solving, regular maintenance, or repair, call Economy Septic today at (256) 435-1086!