Thursday, February 20, 2014


Homes and businesses use septic systems when municipal sewer connections are not available. A septic system consists of a tank, which is basically a large concrete box with internal baffles, and field line. The field line is a system of pipes that carry water from the septic tank into an area where it can be absorbed into the ground. The pipes are buried two to three feet below the surface. In general, septic systems require just routine maintenance and periodic emptying. By recognizing signs of trouble, you may be able to head off major inconvenience and expensive repairs.


Your nose may register the first whiff of trouble. Sewer odors could come from the septic tank itself or the field line. The tank may have been overburdened with waste or sprung a leak. Tanks should be emptied every three to five years. Note: The bathroom vent located on your roof normally emits some sewer odors.

Slow Drains

If a pipe is clogged or the septic tank otherwise is not functioning properly, you may notice that your sinks drain more slowly. Typically, the problem comes on gradually, but in some instances you have little time before the system shuts down. Typically, the cause is too much sludge (solid waste) in the septic tank. When that happens, waste will back up in the pipes leading into the tank and possibly spill over into the field line. You can inspect the system on your own, but you will likely need to call in a professional to remedy the problem.

Standing Water

Standing water above your field line likely means the pipes are not draining properly because they are clogged with waste. This indicates that the septic tank is full. You can reduce septic tank problems by conserving water use. Take shorter showers; use the dish washer and clothes washer only when you have full loads. Consider doing without a garbage disposal, which adds an extra burden to septic systems.

Gurgling Sounds

Your septic tank won't go bump in the night to warn you of impending trouble, but it will make other disturbing sounds. A backed-up septic system could cause drains to gurgle, particularly in the bathroom. The drain pipe acts as a megaphone, transmitting sounds from the tank back into your home. If you inspect the system yourself, don't enter the septic tank. The fumes and lack of oxygen could be lethal. Your best bet is to contact a plumber.

Silent Warning Signs

Septic tank failure may occur without visible or audible signs. If the field line pipes fill up with solid waste, they no longer can distribute water for absorption into the ground. Instead, they may exude waste, which could eventually contaminate the ground water supply. At times the first sign of a septic system failure is a nearby well testing positive for bacteria. This is a worst case scenario as the problem has expanded beyond the confines of the septic system. Annual inspections will normally prevent this type of problem.

Maintain Your System

You can avoid septic tank trouble by having your system inspected annually and pumped out every three to five years. Besides conserving water, you can protect your septic system by keeping it free of grease, cooking oil, coffee grounds, and drain cleaners. Do not plant trees or shrubs above or close to your septic system, as the roots could cause mischief. Shield the area above your septic system from excessive water runoff and don't allow cars to drive over it.

Related Posts:

  • Calculate Septic Tank Size

    Calculate Septic Tank SizeSeptic tanks are manufactured in a range of sizes to accommodate the wastewater capacity of the home's size, based on the tank's 24-hour retention time. Residential septi...

  • Build A Septic Tank Baffle

    PVC pipeA baffle is a vital part of your septic tank, preventing solid waste from entering the field lines and also from backing up into the house drain. If the baffle has been damaged, knocked of...

  • Adjust The Gmax Flushing System

    The G-Max flushing system is a bit different than most brands. The main difference is the fill valve portion of the system. Unlike other fill valves, the G-Max float sits inside a housing, resulti...

  • List Of Propane Tank Sizes

    List of Propane Tank SizesPropane tanks come in many different shapes and sizes. They are listed in both pounds or gallons. The listed weight of a tank is the weight of the fuel in the tank and do...

  • Ford Fusion Transmission Problems

    Transmission problems at highway speeds can be dangerousThe Ford Fusion has received much attention over the years for its comfortable, straightforward design. It was named 2010 Car of the Year by...