A man uses a hose to drain a septic tank in the ground

Signs of Septic Tank Problems

Biohazard Cleanup

It’s not always a fun task, but ensuring your home’s plumbing system functions as it should is important. That often means taking special care of your septic tank. Despite their underground location, septic tanks require routine maintenance to ensure they’re working correctly. Otherwise, serious issues can arise. An overflowing septic tank system may cause unpleasant odors and a backup of wastewater, potentially leading to costly damage to your property. 

This blog will discuss the many warning signals that might indicate problems with septic systems, what you can do during a septic tank failure, and how to prevent future septic tank problems. 

Common Septic Tank Problems

Foul Odors

If you notice a pungent smell in your yard or from your drains, it could indicate a septic system problem. This foul odor is typically caused by gases such as methane and hydrogen sulfide that have built up over time in the septic tank. It’s important to take this sign seriously as these odors can be unpleasant and a risk to human health if inhaled or ingested. 

Slow Drains

Slow drainage in your sinks, toilets, and showers may mean your septic tank needs to be repaired or replaced. The decrease in drainage flow could be due to a buildup of solids in the tank, which restricts the water from moving freely. If you think this is the case, don’t attempt to fix it yourself, as it is likely a complicated process that requires special tools and expertise. 

Standing Water

Has standing water in your yard or around your septic tank caught your eye? This happens when there is an issue with the drainage field, which is the place where wastewater from your septic tank flows into the soil. When the drainage field becomes congested or fails to work as intended, it can create a backup of wastewater, resulting in standing water in your yard or near the septic system.

A worker examines a septic tank for signs of septic tank problems
There are a variety of issues a faulty septic tank can cause.

Green Grass

While it may seem counterintuitive, spongy lush grass around your septic tank or drainage field could mean a problem. If the grass around your septic system is much greener than the rest of your lawn, it could indicate that your tank is overflowing or leaking. This excess water and nutrients can cause the grass to grow faster and more abundantly.

Wastewater Backup

The most serious sign of septic system failure is wastewater backup, which can quickly unfold into a smelly and dreadful disaster within your home. Not only can the water back up into sinks, toilets, and showers, but it can also seep out of the drains onto the floors, creating a dangerous mess that can be difficult to clean up. When this happens, time is of the essence; you’ll need to call a professional plumber immediately to take care of the situation efficiently and promptly.

What to Do If Your Septic Tank Fails

If your septic system fails, it is essential to take swift action. A septic tank failure can harm your family’s safety and be costly if the problem isn’t resolved urgently. You can take the following steps to ensure everyone remains safe and property damage is minimal.

Stop Using Water

The first step in the event of a septic tank failure is to stop using water. This includes turning off all faucets, not flushing toilets, and avoiding using appliances that rely on water, such as washing machines and dishwashers. This prevents more wastewater from entering the septic system, which can worsen the problem.

Evacuate the Area

Vacate the property immediately if the septic system has caused wastewater to back up. Wastewater from within the septic tank can contain harmful bacteria and pathogens that pose a health risk and potential health hazard. If you or anyone in your home has been exposed to the sewage, seek medical attention immediately.

Stay Away from the Drain Field

Avoid proximity to the drain field since the area can be unstable and dangerous. Direct exposure to wastewater is also harmful to your health.

Do Not Attempt Repairs Yourself

Leave the repairs and the heavy lifting of replacing a septic system tank to the professionals. Experienced plumbers and septic system specialists will provide the help you need to get everything sorted out. These experts can determine the cause of the failure, assess its severity, and recommend the best repair or replacement plan of action. Call a trained professional to fix any problems with your septic system as quickly as possible. An immediate solution will avoid further damage and restore your property to its pre-loss condition.

A worker digs up a septic tank for signs of septic tank problems
Always call a professional to handle septic tank issues.

Call a Professional Property Damage Restoration Company to Clean and Sanitize

Cleaning up after a sewage spill can also be hazardous, as sewage is considered a biohazard and requires specialized equipment, materials, and protocols to clean effectively. 

Without proper cleanup and sanitation, the affected areas in your property could lead to potential health concerns and further damage. A minor issue like moisture left behind in carpets or furniture can escalate and cost far more money in the long term.

A professional property remediation company can assist you in a thorough cleanup. These experts have the knowledge and experience to sanitize affected areas properly.

Prevent Future Problems

After your septic system has been repaired or replaced, don’t get complacent! Schedule regular maintenance and inspections, follow proper household waste disposal, conserve water, and avoid activities that can damage your septic system, such as parking or driving over the drain field.

Preventing Septic Tank Failure

Septic tanks are essential to plumbing, requiring proper maintenance to avoid a malfunction. Prevention is always a surefire way to avoid disaster, so taking the following steps ensures everything will continue to run smoothly.

Regular Septic Tank Inspections and Maintenance

Have a certified professional conduct a regular inspection. A trained expert can assess the condition of your tank, check for leaks and cracks, and determine if there is any damage to the drainage field. A septic tank inspection should be conducted every three to five years, depending on the size of your household and the amount of wastewater produced.

During an inspection, a plumber will check your tank’s sludge and scum levels. If these levels are too high, it can lead to clogs and backups in your drainage system. They can also recommend pumping your tank to remove buildup and prevent further problems.

A professional plumber can also perform consistent maintenance tasks such as cleaning and repairing the drain field and replacing damaged pipes.

Regular Pumping

Regular pumping is a critical step in septic tank maintenance. Over time, the solid waste in your septic tank will build up and form a layer of sludge at the bottom. If this layer becomes too thick, it can clog your drainage system and lead to failure.

It’s best to have your septic tank pumped every three to five years, along with your inspections. Regular pumping can remove any buildup and prevent problems from occurring.

Proper Waste Disposal

Proper waste disposal is another crucial element in preventing septic tank failure. Flushing non-biodegradable items such as paper towels, sanitary products, and wipes can lead to clogs and backups. Avoid pouring grease and oil down your drains, as they can solidify and lead to clogged pipes.

To prevent clogs and backups, flush only human waste and toilet paper. Toss other materials in the garbage or through a separate waste disposal system. Grease and oil should be placed in a separate container and disposed of properly.

A worker drains a septic tank
Septic maintenance ensures it doesn’t fail in the future.

Conserve Water

Conserving water is not only good for the environment but also for your septic tank. Excessive water use can overload your septic system, leading to backups and failure. To conserve water, fix leaky faucets and pipes, install low-flow showerheads and toilets, and avoid using water in excess when washing clothes or dishes.

Have massive loads of laundry to do? Spread your washing schedule a few days a week to give your septic system time to process the water properly. Too much water at once can overwhelm your septic system.

Maintain Your Drainage Field

In the drainage field, wastewater is poured into the soil for natural filtration. A functioning drainage system makes all the difference in preventing septic tank failure. Avoid parking or driving over your drainage system, as a disturbance can impact the soil and disrupt the natural filtration process.

Planting trees or shrubs near your septic system may lead to trouble in the future, as plant roots and tree roots can penetrate and damage the drain pipes. Refrain from covering your drainage field with concrete or dense materials, as they can cause a problem.

Install a Filter

Installing a filter in your septic system can also help prevent septic tank failure. A filter can remove solids and debris from the wastewater before it enters the drain field, preventing clogs and backups. Filters are relatively inexpensive and easy to install, and they can extend the life of your septic system.

Call PuroClean For the Best Solution to Your Faulty Septic Tanks

When a septic tank fails, serious property damage can occur, and it can be incredibly difficult to clean up without professional help. Thankfully, PuroClean offers emergency water damage restoration caused by a failing septic system. Our highly trained technicians use industry-leading techniques that ensure proper sanitization and safe disposal of any contaminated materials in environmentally responsible ways. We work efficiently and immediately so your home or business returns to its pre-damage state as soon as possible. Call us today at (800) 775-7876 or visit our website

Last edited on 25th of December 2023