Signs of Possible Septic System Issues

Septic tanks are a common way of handling all liquid waste coming from your house without the expense of monthly sewage fees from your local municipality. Properly maintained, a family of four (4) should have their tank cleaned every 3 to 5 years, and it should last around 30 to 50 years.

Several signs could indicate issues with your tank.

  • If you have water and sewage backing up into the house:
    1. If it is only one fixture that is backing up, it most likely is a clogged line near the fixture. This would require a plumber to either plunge or snake the line.
    2. If all the fixtures in the house are backing up or running slow, it could be caused by a problem with the inlet line between the house and the tank. Causes could include:
      1. Belly in the line (low spot or spots that cause pooling of water where solids can collect and partially block the inlet flow to the tank.
      2. Broken line causing area for paper and solids to collect, which will also block the inlet flow to the tank.
  • Loose joints in the pipe which will allow roots to grow inside the tube and cause a partial or complete blockage.
  • If you have wet spots in the yard:
    1. If you have a clogged outlet filter, water cannot get into the field lines to discharge the clear water.
    2. If the field line header is disconnected or broken from shifting soil or heavy traffic above it, this would again prevent water from reaching the field lines and allow water to soak directly into the soil from the outlet of the tank.
    3. If solids entered into the field lines, they could clog the holes in the lines and prevent water from percolating into the soil.
  • If you have odors:
    1. If you have odors in the yard, it could be caused by:
      1. Overflowing tank due to blocked or clogged field lines
      2. Loose or missing cleanout lid
    2. If you have odors in the house, it could be caused by:
      1. Dry traps in unused fixtures
      2. Broken or split plumbing vent
  • Blocked plumbing vent on the roof
  • If you have gurgling drains, it could be caused by:
    1. Partially blocked lines near the fixture
    2. Partially blocked inlet line between the house and the tank
    3. Partially blocked plumbing vent, as you need air behind water for it to flow smoothly.