Troubleshooting Septic Tank Problems

Lid and debris near septic tank

Although much of the country is pushing toward community-based sewerage handling, there are still many communities where each home has its own separate septic wastewater system and it is important to make sure they work correctly by troubleshooting septic tank problems.

1. Initial Signs

The first sign that something is wrong with your septic system is water flow. If you suddenly find your sinks and toilets slowing down, it is likely your septic system is filling up and probably needs a cleaning. You can try to stretch things with one of the bacterial cleaners such as Rid-X and you will gain some time. Indeed, a monthly treatment with this type of product will probably keep things working.

Another telltale sign that something is wrong with your septic system is a constantly wet yard or field. Septic tanks usually have overflows, called leaching fields, made of rocks and gravel and topped with loam. If you find your yard is constantly wet, even if the weather has been dry, then it’s a good bet that your septic tank is overflowing and it’s time for a backhoe and pump truck. Try to keep it from getting to this state by using bacterial cleaners.

2. The Nose Knows

woman plugging nose and spraying air freshener

Still another telltale sign that your septic system is not working is the smell. If there’s a rather strong odor in your yard and you find that you have weeds and other plants growing faster than you’ve ever seen it in your yard, you can be sure that there’s enriched nutrient flowing around the roots of the plants in your yard. If it reaches this stage, you are faced with a tank leak. You might try a bacterial agent again and it might buy you some time, but, in the end, you are facing yard work.

3. Yard and Lawn Growth

If you find that your trees are suddenly a foot taller or seem to be growing rapidly or if you find that nice green lawn that was there in the spring has suddenly turned into a patch resembling a bamboo grove in a matter of weeks, especially if the weather has been warm and sunny, perfect growing conditions if the nutrients are right, then you can be sure something is happening below the surface that should be checked out. You may also notice, at the same time, that you have more blockages in your in-house systems, more serious than the slowdowns mentioned. If so, it’s time to see if you can win the battle with a shot of bacteria or major repairs if needed.

4. Time for System Change

exposed septic lines underground

If this happens often, consider changing to an aerobic system from an anaerobic system. An aerobic system works with air-based bacteria that work more quickly at breaking down the wastewater in your septic tank. Since you are constantly churning the effluent in your septic system you will find that, though this system may cost more to install than an anaerobic system, they pay dividends down the road when you have fewer problems and visits from the pump truck.