Septic Tank Problems and How to Avoid Them

Posted on: 21 June 2017

If you notice that your drains are beginning to make curious gurgling sounds and they are slow to empty, it could be a warning sign of something amiss with your septic system. Here's a quick guide to common problems that may arise with your system and the best ways to avoid them.

Recognize Signs of Trouble

As well as the previously mentioned difficulties some other notable warnings are the following:

  • an overflowing toilet
  • foul odours from drains
  • overflow from the washing machine connection
  • unpleasant septic tank smell around the tank or cover
  • wet spots on the ground surrounding the tank

Know the Possible Reasons for Septic Problems

In the majority of cases, the reason can be attributed to an irregular maintenance and pumping out schedule, thus causing an excess buildup of sludge. However, other reasons may also need considering such as . . . 

  • tree roots entering through cracks in the tank
  • broken tank baffles or drain lines
  • a blocked septic filter
  • insufficient bacteria and enzymes to maintain the system effectively
  • excess grease entering the system

If you suspect any problems at all, your first priority should be to contact a professional septic tank specialist and obtain a skilled diagnosis of the situation. If it is because of sludge build-up, the solution may be quite a simple and cost-effective clean out. Your contractor can then recommend the most effective cleaning agents and septic additives for your system.

Understand the Processes Involved in the System

Septic systems actually work on quite a simple process based on the natural breakdown of organic material by microscopic enzymes and bacteria.  The tank's purpose is to cleanse household wastewater and human waste into purified water, which is then returned to usable groundwater.

Most septic tanks are constructed of concrete or fiberglass, which are entirely watertight to contain any disease carrying pathogens which are present at this stage of the process. After breakdown of solids by enzymes, the effluent which leaves the tank is in liquid form and seeps into the soil below, where it is then further purified by micro-organisms. Eventually, this liquid will reach an aquifer and become clean and fit for human consumption.

Know How to Treat Your System Well

A system that is properly installed and maintained can work well  through the years by ensuring that you use best practice septic tank maintenance procedures.

However, the systems cannot work efficiently when exposed to certain unfavorable conditions.

Excess Water

Be careful not to introduce too much water into the system, as this interferes with the balance of bacteria and enzyme activity. Use water saving techniques such as using low-flow toilets, water saving shower heads, and tap aerators.

Overuse of Chemicals

Everyday household chemicals, including cleaners, chlorine bleaches, drain openers, and mouthwashes, all have an effect on killing off the natural micro-organisms in the system. If this special process is reduced below a appropriate level, the solids in the tank will accumulate and result in system failure.

A buildup of sludge will decrease the capacity of the tank. Do not allow the sludge layer to reach the outlet pipe level, and make sure that filter is free of debris and sludge. Naturally, this is not a task that everyone can manage themselves, and fortunately this can be left to the experts. Having a regular inspection and pump out by an experienced septic system contractor will ensure that everything is in order and will also prolong the life of the tank.

Treating your septic tank with care and seeking the assistance of a skilled contractor will result in an efficient and low cost system for a very long period of time.