Common Septic Tank Problems

Common Septic Tank Problems

A septic tank problem is something that most people have to deal with at a certain point. As experts in the industry, we come across problems with septic tanks quite often so here we list the most common ones and how to solve them.

A bad smell coming from the septic tank

Bad smells are one of the most common septic tank problems. Remember, that it’s normal for there to be a weak bad smell in and around the septic tank. The smell of sewage is one that most people can recognize. If you are finding an overpowering bad smell of sewage then there is a problem! Most likely, the septic tank needs to be emptied. A septic tank should be emptied regularly, usually every 2-3 years, depending on usage.

Smelly septic tank

Another possible cause of bad smells from a septic tank is poor ventilation. There should be a vent at the septic tank, or a soil vent stack at the house. Make sure to check the soil vent stacks regularly for blockages. The ends of percolation trenches should also be vented. 

A leaking septic tank

Another common septic tank problem is a leaking tank which results in wet or boggy patches in and around the location of the tank. There may be a number of reasons for a septic tank to leak. If the tank is cracked or damaged it may need to be replaced – cracks or damage can be the result of poor installation. To spot any damage, you will need to have the tank emptied so that cracks are visible and/or you can spot any water seeping through.

Another reason for a leaking septic tank is if it is not properly sealed. There are various parts of a septic tank that need to be sealed. In two part concrete tanks, leaks are most commonly found where the two parts meet and are sealed. Another area where leaks can occur, especially in older septic tanks, is at the inlet and outlet pipes. A rubber gasket can help to seal the tank at the entry and exit openings.

A blocked septic tank

blocked septic tank

This is another common septic tank problem. In this case, a blocked septic tank is often the result of what has been flushed down the toilet. Anything that isn’t biodegradable will not be broken down inside the septic tank and will simply stay there until the tank is emptied. Most often, the blockage is not inside the tank but rather in the pipes or even the percolation area.

The best course of action here is to contact a drain cleaning company to have the pipes jetted.

A flooded septic tank

Another common septic tank problem is a flooded tank. This can happen if the tank has not been emptied in a long time, is damaged or overloaded. Wet and rainy weather can flood a septic tank if storm water runoff is directed towards it or the pipes leading towards it – only wastewater generated within the house should be directed to a septic tank. A blocked percolation area can also result in the backflow of water through the pipes and back into the septic tank.

Again, the best course of action is to have the tank emptied and observed for any signs of leakage or back flow into the tank.

5 tips to solve septic tank problems

  1. Hire a professional to empty the septic tank.
  2. Observe the empty septic tank for signs of damage, cracks or ground water leaking into the tank.
  3. Observe the empty tank for water flowing back into the tank from the percolation area.
  4. Check for signs of leaks at seals and covers.
  5. Hire a professional to check the pipes for blockages or signs of damage.

Remember safety first! This should only be considered a guideline, it is always best to seek the help of a professional! The best way to avoid septic tank problems is regular maintenance and proper usage.

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