Top 5 Signs Your Septic System Needs Servicing

If you see standing water near your septic tank or drain field, that’s a bad sign. The area should be lush and green, not wet and soggy.

Foul odors from your sinks and toilets are another sign that something is wrong with the septic system. These smells result from sewage backing up into your home, usually from an overly full septic tank.

Slow Drains

If all drains in your home are slowly draining, it indicates that the septic system has a clog and needs to be serviced. Try at-home solutions like baking soda or a wire coat hanger (after Marie Kondo-ing your closet). Still, if the issue persists, it is time to call a professional for a septic tank inspection and pumping.

A healthy septic system means not flushing household, chemical drain cleaners, or paint thinners down the pipes. You also should avoid planting shrubs or vegetable gardens where the septic system is located, as these plants can encroach on the absorption field and cause further problems.

Foul odors from indoor drains or the yard indicate that your septic tank is full and needs servicing.

Foul Odors

The foul smell of sewage or septic systems indicates a leak or other problem. The odor is caused by hydrogen sulfide, which has a rotten egg smell. The anaerobic breakdown of organic waste releases it. If the septic tank is leaking, it should be serviced immediately.

Foul-smelling stools are another indication of needing servicing. The odor may have to do with changing diets, but if the change is extreme, it could be a sign of a medical condition.

If the odor is only noticeable when a toilet is flushed, it might result from a dried-out drain trap in the basement. The problem can be solved by re-filling the trap. The odor also might indicate the septic tank cleanout access plug is loose and needs to be tightened.

Sewage Backup

A sewage backup is a worst-case scenario and indicates that your septic tank needs septic services immediately. It is also a health risk for you and your family as it contains harmful bacteria that can cause illness.

Sewer clogs and damage to sewer lines are the main culprits of sewage backup. These problems are commonly caused by heavy rains causing the municipal sewer system to fill up, pushing waste back into residential homes. Clogs and damage to sewer pipes can be caused by accumulating hair or solid materials that wastewater pipes are not designed for, as well as tree roots seeking out moisture and nutrients.

Watch out for signs of sewage backup, like sinks, tubs, and showers draining noticeably slower than normal. Foul odors from toilets and other drains, black liquid in sinks or bathtubs, and puddling water or wet spots around the basement or garage floor drains.

Pooling Water

Septic tanks collect all the household wastewater, including water from sinks, bathtubs, showers and toilets. The liquid and solid wastes move into your drain field, which soaks into the ground. Over time, the absorption field can become full. This can cause septic tank backup or even flood your yard.

Standing pools of water in your backyard indicates that your septic system needs servicing. This water is often sewage-contaminated and can lead to a rotten egg smell.

In addition, you should be on the lookout for lush grass over your septic tank and drain field area. This is a sign that sewage is escaping and fertilizing the grass, which is not good for you or your pets. The best way to avoid septic tank problems is to schedule routine septic tank pumping every 3 to 5 years.

Unhealthy Well Water

Unhealthy well water indicates that your septic system needs to be serviced. Bacteria and nitrates leached from an overly full system can enter the soil surrounding your well.

These toxins can cause health issues that range from mild stomach upset to severe infections like typhoid fever, cholera and diseases caused by Shigella spp. and E coli.

If you notice a change in your well water’s color, smell or taste, have it tested for contaminants? For example, if your water has an orange or reddish hue, it could contain tannins or iron bacteria that aren’t necessarily dangerous but aren’t good for you either. It can also be a sign that your tank is overflowing.

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