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Is Your Septic Tank Sending You A Warning? Clues For Homeowners

Being the caretaker for a residential septic system can be difficult and confusing for the average homeowner. Unlike the HVAC system or the foundation, both of which are mostly visible and easily observed, the septic tank and its associated components are completely concealed beneath the soil and unable to be easily monitored. 

Because of this, homeowners are left to rely on somewhat vague clues and signs that a problem might be developing with their septic tank. If you are one of these concerned homeowners, this brief guide can help. 

What does your nose say? 

Unpleasant odors are often the first signs that a septic tank has begun to struggle with processing waste water and solids. Odors from undigested waste in the septic tank often occur when the tank has become too full or when the necessary bacterial colonies are no longer able to keep up. Homeowners may also notice unpleasant sewage odors if their septic tank has begun to leak and raw sewage has begun to pool above ground. 

What is seen and heard inside the home? 

Another prominent clue that a septic tank is becoming increasingly inefficient is found in sounds and visible clues inside the home. These can include gurgling toilets and drains or realizing that the tubs, showers, and sinks are taking noticeably longer to drain.

In instances where the septic tank is in severe distress, homeowners may even notice that raw sewage is backing up in floor drains, tubs, or sinks. 

Homeowners may also find themselves flushing the toilet multiple times in order to get the desired results when a septic tank is malfunctioning. Unfortunately, double or triple flushes can also compound the problem of a sluggish septic tank because it releases additional water into an already overburdened septic system. 

What do the test results say? 

Having an annual or periodic water test is an important part of tracking water quality for rural homeowners with a private water well and septic system. Homeowners who note rising levels of bacteria on water test results may be seeing evidence that unprocessed sewage is escaping from the septic tank or drainfield and finding its way into the water table.

Understanding how your septic tank functions and what to look for when a problem is developing is an important part of maintaining a healthy residential septic system. To learn more about the potential clues you should watch for, consider discussing your situation with a reputable plumber or residential septic tank service contractor in your area.