Normally septic tanks are very durable structures that can function without problems for a long time as long as the minimum tank pumping and cleaning requirements are met. But on the other hand, when septic tank problems occur, they tend to be very hard to detect at first and can rapidly escalate since the tank is underground and visual inspection of the level of scum accumulated or any other malfunction is not possible. Most of the time homeowners do not realize that there is a problem with their septic system until it becomes aggravated and needs professional intervention.
Septic Tank Problems: Early Warning Signs
As we said, visual inspection of the status of the tank is not possible since it is buried underground and not normally visible without special equipment that cannot be found in normal households. So, how can you detect any problem with your septic system before it’s too late?
The first clue in almost any septic tank problem is the odor. You start to notice some foul smells in various areas of the property, most frequently in or near drains, toilets, etc. It starts as a rather small indicator that perhaps you can’t put your finger on. You may smell the foul odor for a couple of seconds, and then it may be gone; until the next time that you will smell a stronger odor that is. So if you’re using a septic tank and start to feel the foul odors, do not overlook them.
The second clue in most cases will be the condition of the grass near the septic tank. When there is a problem with the septic system such as a blockage or a leakage, or when the scum and slug reach the surface due to lack of timely pumping and cleaning, you may start to notice that the grass near the tank gets greener and lusher than the rest of the yard. This means that certain waste materials are being introduced into the soil and act like a fertilizer. While this may not seem like a problem at first, it is in fact a very good indicator of a serious problem with the tank.
Another early warning sign can be observed if your toilets start to flush slower than before, or when your drains start to get clogged very often. If you plunge the pipes and still the problem persists, you can start to think that the problem is not in the pipes but in the septic tank.
Septic Tank Problems: The Causes
The first and most obvious cause of any problem with your septic tank is the lack of timely pumping and cleaning. Every septic system must be pumped at regular intervals depending on the size of the tank and the number of people in the household. Even if the required frequency is not very high (a 4000 liter tank regularly used by 4 people needs to be pumped every two and a half years), if you miss the schedule it is almost guaranteed to have problems in your septic system.
Another common reason for tank problems is dumping unnecessary stuff into the tank. Septic systems are designed to mainly process biodegradable waste, and throwing other (and especially solid) kinds of waste will cause the system to get clogged and eventually malfunction. Therefore, never dump solid waste like toilet papers, or oil or grease that will certainly clog the system into the tank.
Just remember this, septic tank problems can be very annoying, but they also can be completely avoided as long as you pay a little attention to the points we specified above.
If you are experiencing any of the above septic tank problems or would like to avoid them, give us a call today!