Septic systems are mostly reliable, performing their quiet work around the clock. Failure of a septic system is not only unpleasant, it is unhealthy and potentially dangerous. A homeowner can look for a few danger signals that septic system repair is needed.
A backup in a septic system occurs when a slow or clogged system forces sewer water (blackwater) back up through pipes into sinks, tubs and toilets. The blackwater is foul-smelling and unhealthy.
A telltale warning sign of future backups is a gurgling sound in sinks or toilets. Angie's List provides some quick tips on simple maintenance you can do to keep your septic system clean, green and healthy.
An errant toy flushed down a toilet by an experimenting toddler; feminine hygiene products, hair, kitchen scraps — all can cause clogs that prevent or slow wastewater from entering the septic system.
More subtle trouble can go down the drain, too. Avoid trying to flush or pour any of these clog-inducers down your toilet or sinks:
Clogs can be sudden or build up over time. Unfortunately, many people never notice a kitchen clog progressively slowing down a kitchen drain, for example, until the sink just stops draining completely.
Leaky or sweating pipes will attract tree roots, which can grow and enter septic pipes. These roots follow the moisture, growing along the pipe until the fill or burst it further. Professional septic system repair involves using cutting blades on a rotating auger to clear the roots.
Sometimes, septic system repair services can run a new, flexible pipe inside the existing pipe, ignoring damage and holes created by the tree roots.
If you have dug around in your back yard and accidentally hit a pipe, you may be the cause of a damaged septic system line. Third party vendors — contractors installing a swing set, landscaping services digging flower beds, or television cable installers — may also inadvertently break your septic system's pipes.
Many homeowners fail to realize leach field pipes extend far beyond the settling tank, so damage to pipes can happen many yards away from your home.
The only complete solution for this sort of damage is to dig out and replace the damaged pipes.
Odors of raw sewage permeating your living space are clear signs of septic system problems. The pipes beneath your sink are designed to keep a little water in the P-trap, preventing sewer gases from entering. Similarly, your toilet has a reservoir of water in the bowl for the same reason.
When sewer gases enter your home, your septic system has a clog preventing sewer gases from moving out to your settling tank or beyond, to your septic field.
Many septic systems feature alarms, from blinking lights to noisy buzzers, to alert you that something is not right. If your septic system's alarms go off regularly or intermittently, you have a problem that needs quick action by professionals.
A fast solution to some septic system malfunctions is to have the settling tank pumped of waste. As Angie's List has recommended, getting the system cleaned every few years is a smart investment, saving expensive emergency service calls.
A plumber equipped with a power auger can eliminate tree roots. When searching for a plumber or specialty service, verify some basics: