Troubleshooting Septic System Problems

a yard dug up, exposing pipes and water underground

Many problems can arise in a septic system. The most difficult task in determining how to fix the problem is figuring out what is creating the issue in the first place. Once you become familiar with your septic system, it will be easier to detect the issue when things stop flowing properly.

Routine Inspection

You should completely observe your septic system before a problem arises so you are aware of what it looks like normally. Remove the lid of the septic tank and look inside. Take a note of the level of the water inside the septic tank. If the water level appears normal, then the septic system problem does not exist here. This could hint that there is a minor clog somewhere up the line.

If the level in the septic tank is above normal, then the line leaving the tank is clogged up. Possible culprits could be a saturated field, remaining sludge, damaged drainage lines, or the drain could be blocked by tree roots.

A Poor Flush

Toys in a toilet bowl

When you flush the toilet and the water does not go down with ease, this can be a sign that there is a problem with your septic system. The snake may be out of line, resulting in mud backup. Another reason for a poor flush is due to a backup of various wastes that can actually clog the tank beyond repair.

Smell or Flooding

Puddles of water or any odors can be signs that water is seeping up out of the ground.

Septic System Failure

A septic system fails when it does not effectively take in liquid wastes. Also, when biological and nutrient contaminants get into your well from nearby lakes or stream, this is a sign that your septic system has failed.

Toilet Backup

If your toilet is backing up beyond what a plunger can handle, it’s an indication that there’s a problem with the wastewater drainage. It may be a sign that the drain field is saturated. This can be caused by recent heavy rains and may be temporary. You could also have a broken pipe. If the entire drain field needs to be replaced, it can be an expensive endeavor.

High Water Table in Spring

Septic system operation can slow down due to a high water table that can saturate the soil around the surrounding trenches. If this is an issue, you may need to pump the extra water out or use other common solutions to re-route the water to the surface, lowering the water table and improving your sewer performance.

Leaky Faucets and Toilets

Water leaking from faucets and toilets can also affect absorption field operation. To fix this you must always keep plumbing fixtures in proper condition.

Obstruction of Tank-to-Field Line

Repairing a drainage pipe

This problem happens when solids or tree roots overflow the tank. Another cause of this could be a collapse of a pipe section. To fix this you need to pump the tank and clear the line. Next, you will repair the broken section.

Always remember to have your system checked annually for any leaks or sludge. Contact a plumbing contractor who is licensed if you are unsure about how to fix a problem.