Symptoms of Septic System Problems

Typically, the symptoms of septic system problems are easy to spot. It is left to the reader's imagination to decide if this is a good thing. Unfortunately, if obvious symptoms are present, your septic system may already be damaged. Proper use and maintenance of your septic system can help avoid costly repairs.

Septic Systems And Their Issues

Your septic system works by separating out the solids from your home's wastewater and distributing the water into soil so that it can be cleaned further. The septic tank is the part of the system that causes solids to settle out of the wastewater. The water is then sent to a drain field, where gravel, sand and soil work with beneficial bacteria to filter and clean the water. The following tips will help you identify problems with your septic system:

  • Regular maintenance. Over time, your septic tank fills with un-dissolved solids. An over-full septic tank can allow un-dissolved solids to seep into the drain field where they can clog pipes and gravel beds. Clogged drain field elements can't be cleaned, only replaced. A professional septic tank contractor should pump the tank every two to three years. Regular pumping not only cleans the septic tanks, it allows for regular inspections that can help spot small problems before they grow.
  • Backup. An obvious sign of trouble is if your toilets and sinks drain slowly, or water flows back into them. Drains that backup can be a sign of an overfull septic tank, but they can also be a sign of a clog somewhere along the drain lines.
  • The grass is always greener. If you notice that the grass is greener in certain areas of your yard, this may indicate solids contaminating your drain fields. Of particular concern are rectangular or striped areas.
  • The wet spot. Standing water in the area of your septic tank or drain field are clear indications that the septic system is stressed beyond capacity.
  • Smell that smell. A strong sewer odor-either in the yard, or in the vicinity of your drains-is typically a sign of septic system trouble.
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