Gray Septic Tank Partially Burried In The Ground

Septic Tank Backup: Warning Signs and How to Fix It

No one wants to tear up their lawn for costly septic tank repair. Understanding your tank and having a keen eye for issues ensures you can anticipate problems and your system’s entire overhaul stem.

How Does A Septic Tank Work?

A typical septic tank is made up of two parts: 1) the watertight underground tank that stores the sludge and wastes 2) and a drain field that treats and filters water as it strains back into the soil. When everything is working smoothly, this process keeps dangerous waste in its place and only lets treated water out. All you have to do is pump out the waste every few years, and the system runs smoothly.

But if you’re reading this, you know that’s not always what happens. Let’s figure out what can go wrong with your tank and what you can do to get it back to normal!

Why Do Septic Tanks Backup?

A backed-up septic tank is a headache and can happen for many reasons. Some you can control, and others can happen at any time.  Here are some of the most common causes for septic tank backup:

Flooding: After heavy rains saturate the soil around the septic tank, it can have a hard time draining properly. If there is no dry soil to absorb the clean water, waste and water mix together and flow out together.

Increased Water Use: If you’ve been hosting many long-term guests or throwing parties every weekend, you could be filling your tank faster than it can keep up with.  Tanks come in all sizes. Make sure you know how big yours, so you don’t overfill it accidentally.

Poor Installation: Unless you built your home from scratch, you might not know who built the septic system or how old it is. The tank could be too small or have rusting pipes decades old. Be sure to inspect the septic tank before purchasing a new home.

Clogs: A common source of clogs is non-flushable solids. Only ever flush waste and toilet paper. Facial tissues, feminine hygiene products, paper towels, and baby wipes are not safe for septic tanks. If you’re unsure if it is flushable, check if the packaging says “septic safe,” otherwise — throw it in the trash!

Tree Roots: Roots can cause burst pipes to release untreated water and sewage from your septic tank into the ground. Growing tree roots can even lead to clogs as they snake into split pipes.

Pressure on the Tank: If vehicles are moving over your septic tank, this pressure can burst pipes. Make sure to clearly mark the location of your tank and direct any potential traffic away from it.

Sewage Pipe

Warning Signs of a Backed Up Septic System (And What to do About It!)

It can be difficult to tell what is a sign of a backed-up septic tank. At first glance, you could brush off any of these signs as not a big deal. But it is important to take all of these warnings seriously and investigate the problem. Is your home showing any of these warning signs?

  • Slow Draining Sinks
    • When was the last time you had your septic tank pumped? If you don’t maintain a regular cleaning schedule, you may notice sewage backups in your toilet or a slow draining sink and bathtub. This is a sign of clogs. The septic tank fills with solid waste and allows contaminated water to pass through, but the dirty, polluted water has nowhere to go without regular pumping.
  • Cracking Driveway & Sidewalk
    • If your driveway is becoming bumpy or the sidewalk is slowly rising, this could be a sign of tree roots. There are a few ways to deal with roots in your septic system. If you are willing to part with the tree, completely removing and the stump and replacing, the pipes will be the most permanent solution. Stronger new plastic pipes are built to resist tree roots and are a great alternative to metal.
    • You can also pour a root-killing solution down the drain to prevent future growth.
  • A Wet Lawn
    • Is there bright green grass growing in one patch on your lawn? Are you noticing pools of water even when it hasn’t rained? These are clear signs of leaking pipes from your septic system.
  • Bad Smells Coming From Water Sources
    • If your house is starting to smell like a sewer, this is a clear sign you have septic tank backup. If sewage can’t go properly down in the tank, the only place it has to go is back up the pipes.

If you have noticed one or more of these warning signs, it is time to take action before the situation gets out of hand, as there are real consequences of a backed-up septic tank.

Dangers of a Backed Up Septic Tank

A backed-up septic tank can cause bigger problems than just pooled water in your shower. Septic backup carries disease and is a real health hazard to you and your family. Drug byproducts, human waste, fungus, viruses, and bacteria all live in sewage. Contact professional help for assistance sanitizing your home if any sewage backup bubbles in.

Water damage is a real concern with a backed-up septic tank. A leak from a septic tank in your home can damage your floors and walls permanently. In less than 24 hours, black mold can grow after exposure to contaminated water.

A backed-up septic system can also have large-scale effects on the ecosystem surrounding your home. If you have a stream in your backyard, leaking sewage can kill the flora and fauna that depend on it.

At the first sign of a backed-up septic system, you must either attempt to fix it or call a professional like All Dry USA for repairs.

How To Fix Septic Tank Backup

The best way to fix a septic tank is with proper maintenance. Ensure you are getting your system pumped every 3 to 5 years, more if you have a large household. Regular pumping will hopefully avoid a large backhoe tearing up your lawn and replacing a broken septic tank.

Ensure your float switch is working properly. This will automatically shut off the system and your water to avoid a potential backup before it occurs.

If you suspect a clog is backing up your septic tank, then try snaking the drain. Snakes can be purchased at any hardware store and come in different sizes depending on your pipes.

If doing it yourself is overwhelming, or you don’t have time, get help immediately from an expert.

A great solution is to call (866) 313-0458 at any time and talk to All Dry USA about your backed-up septic tank. Our trained professionals will assess the issue and figure out the best solution that won’t break the bank. With over 10 years of repair experience, there’s no clog we haven’t snaked, no pipe we haven’t refitted, and no septic tank we haven’t got back in order!

Ben Suiskind
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