A vital part of home maintenance is making sure that the waste management system, specifically the septic tank, is kept in proper working order. Septic tank maintenance is usually neglected as the system itself isn’t immediately visible, and you could miss the warning signs. Look for these telltale signs to know when it’s time to have your septic tank pumped, and avoid disastrous consequences that may require expensive repairs.
Enough Time Has Passed
Even though the septic tank and any possible issues are out of sight, they should never be out of mind. While not necessarily a “sign,” time itself is a good indication that you need to call a service provider to use a self-prime pump to empty the tank of its contents and perform other maintenance tasks.
A good rule of thumb is to have your home’s septic tank pump every one to three years. Consult a septic service provider to determine a more accurate schedule. Bear in mind that the size of your septic tank and the number of people in your home will impact how often the tank needs to be pumped.
There are Foul Odours
A very bad sign that your septic tank has filled up is when foul odours come from your drains, toilets, septic tank area, or drain field. When the septic tank is close to full capacity, there’s little space to allow gases in the tank to dissipate. The gases have nowhere else to go but up and out through pipes connected to the septic tank. Not only is this problem unpleasant, but it can also create serious health problems for you and your family. Call a septic service provider immediately if you smell foul odours from your toilets and drains.
You Notice Pooling Water
Once a septic tank has filled, water can begin to pool on a number of areas within your property. The usual places where water will pool are around the drain field of the tank and around the tank itself. If the pooling water also smells like sewage, your septic tank is definitely full and must be pumped out immediately.
Water Drains Slower
Should you notice that the water in your tub, shower, washing machine, or toilet doesn’t drain off as quickly as before, that’s another indication that your septic tank needs to be pumped. This is one of the more innocuous signs of an imminent septic tank disaster; call the septic service provider if you observe this, especially on your toilets.
Your Lawn Looks Better
Any grass growing on top of your septic tank’s drain field should appear similar to the rest of the grass in your lawn. But if it suddenly looks like it could grace the front cover of a gardening magazine, it may be getting a little extra “nourishment” from nitrate-rich wastewater under it.
Your Well Water has More Nitrate
This measure concerns homeowners that obtain their water from deep wells instead of public waterworks. You should test your well water at least once a year, and if there is the presence of nitrate or the nitrate levels have spiked, that can be a sign that your septic tank has overflowed and is leaching into your drinking water.
You Get a Sewage Backup
Sewage backup is the most unpleasant indication that your septic tank needs a good pumping. Raw sewage coming back up toilets and drains are the inevitable result of not following a regular maintenance schedule or choosing to ignore all the other signs that your septic tank has filled up.
These are the most common signs of a septic tank that has filled to capacity or beyond, and must immediately be pumped. If one or any combination of these signs (except for the sewage backup) arise, call a septic service provider to fix the problem. Always follow a regular maintenance schedule and avoid a real domestic disaster.