Are you facing septic tank problems and in need of reliable solutions?
Dealing with issues related to your septic system can be daunting and frustrating. However, understanding common problems and their potential causes is the first step towards finding effective remedies.
Septic tanks are essential to all residential and commercial properties. They provide a decentralized wastewater treatment system. They are responsible for collecting and treating wastewater from your home before the effluent is dispersed into the ground.
While they are designed to process and treat sewage efficiently, septic tanks can develop problems over time. These issues can lead to unpleasant odors, sewage backups, and potential health hazards.
This article will explore common septic tank problems, their causes, and possible solutions to ensure an appropriately functioning septic system.
Common Septic Tank Problems
- Slow drains
Slow drainage of water from the shower and sinks is the earliest indicator that the septic system is not working as it should. Slow drains are caused by obstructions in a single pipe, the main drainpipe, or the septic tank .
In most cases, the severity of the issue will indicate how to fix the issue.
The obstruction may be a clog in a drain line due to debris, such as foreign objects, hair, grease, or other items. Alternatively, the obstruction could be a tank problem in which a baffle is not operating correctly, there is a significant system clog, or the tank is simply full.
When water drains slowly from one or multiple drains in the same room, the problem is likely within the plumbing system before it exits the building. If all the fixtures in the home drain slowly, the trouble is probably in the main line or the tank itself.
Slow-draining water is sometimes accompanied by gurgling sounds in the pipes, indicating that repair is necessary at the main drain or tank level.
- Clogs in the septic system
If your septic tank has been pumped within a year or two, you may not need to have it pumped again.
However, if your drains are slowing down, a clog in one of the pipes might be causing this. If the drains are working properly, but sewage is starting to get backed up, there may be a clog in the effluent filter .
You need to access the inlet baffle, check whether there is a clog, and remove it by pushing it through the access port.
- Damage from tree or plant roots
Tree roots can damage septic tanks, generate mysterious cracks in your sidewalk and driveway, and result in persistent floods and wet areas on your lawn. Installing more pipes resistant to root damage is crucial to preventing root invasion.
If trees are near your pipes, treating them with root development inhibitors is also a good idea. Trees whose roots are encroaching on your pipes should be cut down and their stumps removed.
Tree and plant roots can grow through the walls of your septic tank. This will cause the septic system to malfunction and even expose the inhabitants to the risk of disease and accidents.
Related: Can Tree Roots Damage Foundation
- Non-biodegradable material in the tank
The septic tank functions by decomposing most of the solids in the sewage water. But with time, you will need to empty the tank because of the accumulation of muck. On the other hand, non-degradable materials cannot be broken down at all. If such waste is flushed down the drain, your tank will fill up more quickly .
Materials such as paper towels, tampons, and disposable diapers are frequently found in septic tanks as non-biodegradable items. Excess non-biodegradable material normally blocks the drainage system, leading to overflowing liquid waste.
It would be best if you refrained from flushing anything that is not biodegradable.
- Damaged dip pipe or collapsed baffle
Your septic tank’s configuration will determine whether it contains dip pipes, a baffle, or both. Dip pipes serve a similar purpose as the baffle. The dip pipe is frequently discovered freezing at the bottom of the tank during inspections.
This normally happens for several reasons. The most common one is that it might have been knocked off during pumping. When this occurs, inappropriate material might enter through the drain system into the septic tank and might find its way into your home.
The baffle acts as a wall inside the tank. It ensures that no lumpy material gets into the drain system. If the baffle collapses, the solid material could enter the soakaway system and clog it. This will result in the sewage backing up into your home.
- Incorrect septic tank installation
Septic systems function effectively when installed correctly. Regular maintenance keeps your septic system running smoothly and enables you to track any issues. Septic tank failure can result from installation errors, such as failing to bury the tank deep enough, installing the incorrect-sized tank, or utilizing inappropriate soil in the drain field .
- Leaks in sewage tank or lines
Many house owners desire lush, green grass on their lawns. However, if the area around the septic tank is vividly green yet the field around it is dry, there may be a septic tank leak. The unusual growth of grass may indicate that your septic tank is flooding the yard with water through the lateral lines.
This often results in sewage accumulating in the yard. To prevent health risks and expensive damage, you should consult a plumbing expert immediately to help rectify this issue.
- Frequent pumping
All septic tanks have a capacity that must be reached before it overflows. In homes or apartments that frequently have parties or anticipate hosting many people, their septic tanks tend to fill up quickly with solid waste, necessitating frequent pumping.
However, if the septic system is frequently pumped, important bacteria and microorganisms contributing to solid waste decomposition may be removed. This will end up disrupting the tank’s ecological balance and prevent natural decay.
Consequently, the waste is not decomposed effectively due to the death of important microorganisms. The build-up of solids soon exceeds the capacity of the tank, causing blockages, backups, and possible damage to the drains or other elements of the system.
- Unpleasant odor from the tank
The absence of beneficial bacteria and other microorganisms in the septic tank is commonly caused by harsh chemicals. Such chemicals include bleach, soap, laundry detergent, dishwashing tablets, and toilet cleaners .
These chemicals end up in the septic system, destroying the microcosmic ecology. Sometimes people under medication might also pass a variety of drugs into the septic system, including antibiotics that are still effective after being eliminated in urine. All these aggressors inevitably result in the death of your live microorganisms.
If there are not enough essential microorganisms in the tank to decompose waste, it quickly accumulates at the bottom. As soon as that occurs, gases are released, which results in unpleasant odors seeping into your home and yard.
- Ground movements
Any slight ground shifting near septic tanks might have tremendous pressure on your septic tank. Ground movement can be brought on by earthquakes, soil settlement, erosion, and expanding soils.
Underground water flow, and human activity such as excavation or constrictions because of the handling of heavy machinery can also result in movement.
For septic tanks to function properly, a strong foundation is first and foremost required. Therefore, ground shifting jeopardizes the tank’s structural integrity, causing cracks or leaks . These cracks allow sewage to leak into the soil nearby, endangering public health and tainting groundwater. 
The septic tank’s piping is also impacted by ground movement, which can cause obstructions and backups. It can also cause problems with the drainage system, affecting wastewater treatment and a possible overflow of untreated sewage. Additionally, it may weaken and destroy the septic system, causing it to fail and collapse.
Septic tanks can cause many problems, and it is essential to understand these issues. You should book a septic tank inspection to ensure that a malfunctioning septic tank is properly repaired.
Maintain a regular pumping schedule to keep the tank running efficiently.
Proper septic system maintenance is essential to avoid costly repairs or replacements. This includes pumping the tank regularly, conserving water, avoiding harsh chemicals, and planting grass around the leach field.
Regular pumping and conserving water can help remove sludge and solids accumulating in the tank and help prevent clogs in the leach field. Finally, planting grass over and around the leach field can help prevent erosion and allow for easier mowing and maintenance.
Maintaining your septic system’s functionality is essential to avoiding costly repairs, health hazards, and environmental degradation. Property owners should be aware of frequent septic tank complications, their causes, and possible solutions.
This will help them take preventive measures and fix these problems immediately after they arise.
The longevity and effectiveness of septic tanks largely depend on routine maintenance, wise water management, and ethical waste disposal procedures. Property owners can lessen septic tank issues and enjoy a working wastewater treatment system for years by being proactive and getting professional help when necessary.
Read Next: How Long Does It Take To Replace Septic Tank