Common Septic Tank Problems & How to Fix Them

Septic Tank Cleaning

One of the last things a homeowner or business wants is a faulty or overflowing septic tank. A septic tank is buried out of sight, and ideally you’d like it to stay out of mind, but if you notice a nasty whiff or your toilets stop flushing properly, you might just have a problem.

Rather than burying your head in the sand, the best thing you can do is to act quickly and nip the problem in the bud before it gets any worse. With that in mind, we’ve taken a look at some of the most common septic tank problems, along with a few tips on how to fix them.

The warning signs of a septic tank problem

Like any other part of your home, septic tanks require regular maintenance to keep them working effectively. If they’re not properly maintained, the following warning signs may present themselves:

  • Gurgling sounds coming from the plumbing system
  • Water and sewage from drains, sinks and toilets backing up into the property
  • Foul odours around the septic tank and drain field
  • Damp spots or standing water near the septic tank area
  • Bright green, lush grass growing around the septic tank area even in the summer

What are the most common septic tank problems and how are they caused?

Ground movement

The slightest bit of ground movement around your septic tank can put a considerable amount of pressure on the tank, potentially causing fractures and cracks in the walls. That can lead to two problems:

  • The septic tank may back up and need to be emptied much more often.
  • If groundwater enters the septic tank through the cracks, the tank will no longer be able to separate the liquid from the solid waste effectively.

Damage from tree or plant roots

If septic tanks are located too close to trees and shrubs, the roots can grow through the walls of the tank, the soakaway or the pipes that lead from the tank to the property. The damage caused by the roots allows liquid from the tank to escape and water from the ground to get in, both of which prevent the tank from working properly.

A collapsed baffle

It may sound more like a medical condition, but a collapsed baffle is a very serious septic tank issue that could allow solids to flow into the soakaway system, which is only supposed to deal with liquid waste. If this happens, the soakaway system could become blocked, and wastewater from drains, toilets and sinks will start to back up into your property.

A lack of maintenance

It’s essential that your septic tank is pumped and emptied on a regular basis. Some tanks need to be emptied once a year, but for well-designed 1,000-gallon tanks, every 4-5 years should be sufficient. A professional plumber can pump, empty and clean your tank and perform essential maintenance and repairs.

Damage to the dip pipes

The dip pipe or T-pipe performs a similar function to the baffle and works to ensure only the correct type of waste flows into the soakaway system. It is not unusual for the dip pipe to be found resting at the base of the tank, often after being knocked off during emptying.

How to fix common septic tank problems

There are various repairs that can be attempted to resolve some of these common septic tank problems. That includes lining the inside of the tank to make it watertight and refitting the dip pipe and baffle to prevent solids from entering the soakaway system.

While these repairs may add a few extra years to a septic tank, in our experience, if you’re looking for a permanent solution then it’s often better to replace the tank rather than repairing it. A thorough septic tank inspection should always be carried out beforehand so the most appropriate solution can be found.

Your local septic tank experts

If you don’t fancy fixing your septic tank yourself, which is understandable, give Anglia Drain Doctor a call. Our expert technicians can address the problem and advise you on and implement the most appropriate solution. We offer a range of septic tank services that include emptying, cleaning, regular maintenance, inspection and installation.

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