What to Do If Your Septic Tank Backs Up

For those who use a septic tank, the system normally stays under wraps. If anything malfunctions, however, having the problem fixed can become an expensive, nasty mess. Understanding the proper steps for both avoiding and remedying a septic backup can save you money and stress.

How a Septic Tank Functions

Before you can adequately deal with a backup, it helps to recognize how septic tanks work. The tank itself acts as holding chamber for waste that breaks down solids and filters contaminates. A network of pipes or lines connects the tank to indoor facilities like toilets, bathtubs, and sinks (gravity carries waste from indoors to the tank). Around the tank lies the drain field that distributes liquid into the surrounding dirt.

If any one of these components wears out or fails, the septic system will backup.

Signs of a Backup

If you notice any of the following, a septic backup is the likely cause:

  • Clogged Drains – As the most common plumbing problem, a clogged drain can mean many things: an obstruction in the pipe (an item or items too large to fit), an intrusion in the pipe (root, barb, or pipe fragment), a collapsed sewer line. No matter the circumstance, ignoring the issue can lead to full system backup.
  • Sewage Backup – If you see strong-smelling black water in a drain, a component of the system has failed, and immediate action should be taken.
  • Standing Water – If stagnant water collects around the septic tank, it could mean a drain field problem or a tank backup.
  • Noxious Odors – If sewage smells become prominent in or around your home, you could have a ventilation malfunction or septic backup. Either way, this symptom is a strong motivator to seek professional help.
  • 3 Steps to Containing a Backup
  • If you suspect a backup, taking immediate action will help you mitigate the damage.
  • Check the Float Switch – Resetting the system’s power will often get things flowing properly again.
  • Find the Blockage – Open the tank lid and observe the content level. If it’s too low, the blockage stems from the flow of waste from house to tank, if it seems high, you likely have a malfunction with the tank or drain field.
  • Call a Professional – Having trained experts evaluate the system and remove any defects or blockages is your best hope for containing the backup and preventing further damage.

An Ounce of Prevention

Avoiding the use of commercial cleaning agents, keeping foreign objects out of drains, keeping trees or large plants away from sewer lines, and maintaining a regular cleaning/pumping schedule are the best ways to avoid septic system backups.

For all your septic system needs, remember to contact Express Septic Services today.

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