Jack has been working all of his life in the septic tank maintenance, cleaning and pumping business. In 2020 when COVID hit he decided to retire from pumping septic tanks and use his knowledge to help out readers of Septic Tank Dude. Jack has a wealth of knowledge to share on septic tanks, leach fields and much more.
Septic tank backup isn’t just a nuisance – it poses serious risks to your health and property. This comprehensive article provides actionable insights into septic tank backup, including its causes, identifying signs, and solutions to manage this problem effectively.
Don’t call a plumber just yet
We get it, septic tanks can be scary, septic tank backups even scarier! But the usual reaction from homeowners to slow drains or a septic tank problem is to immediately call a plumber, have the system pumped or tree roots removed just in case. All of these solutions are expensive and where we usually see unsuspecting homeowners taken advantage of. Often the problem is as simple as too much solid waste from a garbage disposal or an ineffective system. Before you call in an expensive professional, try a septic tank treatment that you flush down your toilet. From as little as $9 per month, this can solve the majority of your sewage backup problems and make your septic systems more efficient, all with one little tablet.
The Lowdown on Septic Tank Backup: Unraveling the Cause
When your septic tank backs up, wastewater fails to exit the tank and reroutes into your house instead. This situation often arises from an overfilled tank or blockage in your septic system. The blockage might occur in the inlet or outlet pipe, within the septic tank, or even in the drainfield.
Inadequate Maintenance: A well-maintained septic system is less prone to septic system backups (also referred to as sewage backup). Without regular maintenance, solid waste accumulates in your septic tank, ultimately leading to a backup.
Extreme Weather Events: Heavy rainfall and floods can saturate your drainfield, putting excessive strain on your septic system, and causing a backup.
Clogged Pipes: Clogs can occur due to various reasons, like flushing non-biodegradable items or overuse of harsh cleaning products. Tree roots can also infiltrate your pipes and cause blockages.
Poor Design or Installation: Improperly designed or installed septic systems may malfunction, leading to potential backups.
Spotting the Signs: Septic Tank Backed Up
If you understand the signs of a septic tank backup, you can detect the issue early and prevent further damage. Here are some of the common signs:
Slow Draining: If your drains are slow, or water comes back up, it might signal a septic tank backup.
Unpleasant Odors: Septic tank backups often result in unpleasant odors in and around your property.
Gurgling Sounds: Unusual sounds in the plumbing system can indicate a backup.
Green, Spongy Grass: If the grass around your septic tank is unusually green and spongy, it could mean your septic tank is backing up.
Large amounts of toilet paper in septic: If you lift your lid or look through the riser and see a large amount of toilet paper then you might will need to ensure that you’re using the best dissolving toilet paper that is septic-safe. Check that you are using approved TP or your septic tank work will be cut out for it.
Resolving Septic Backup: Actions to Take
Regular Maintenance: Proper maintenance is the cornerstone of a smoothly running septic system. Ensure you pump your septic tank regularly, typically every 3-5 years.
Mind What You Flush: Avoid flushing non-biodegradable items, as they can cause blockages leading to a septic tank backing up.
Use Septic Tank Treatment Tablets: Consider using septic tank treatment tablets. They contain bacteria and enzymes that can help break down waste in your septic tank and prevent backups.
Septic Tank Filters: Installing a septic tank filter on your septic tanks can prevent solids from exiting the tank and clogging the drain field which is a major cause of septic tank backups.
Understanding septic tank backup and its signs, as well as practicing proper maintenance and using treatment tablets, can prevent your septic tank from backing up and damaging your property.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take for a flooded septic tank to drain?
The time it takes for a flooded septic tank to drain depends on several factors, including the level of groundwater and the amount of rainfall. Here are some key points from the search results:
The groundwater will take time to recede to the level of the bottom of the drainfield. This could happen within a week or two or require a couple of months
If your septic tank has been flooded, do not pump the tank during flooded or saturated drainfield conditions. At best, pumping the tank is only a temporary solution
In a conventional system, the septic tank holds wastewater for 2-3 days as the anaerobic bacteria treat it. When the effluent leaves the tank and drains into the drainfield, it is further treated by aerobic bacteria in the soil. Depending on how many inches of rain your area received, a drainfield can take anywhere from one week to a month to drain completely
If your septic tank has been flooded, have it professionally inspected and serviced if you suspect damage. Signs of damage include settling or an inability to accept water
If your home or the area around your home has been flooded, your septic tank may fill with water by leakage through the lid or by rising ground. In this case, you should contact a professional to pump out the water and inspect the system for damage
What does a full septic tank look like?
A full septic tank may not show visible signs. You might notice slow draining, unusual odors, or spongy green grass near the septic tank area.
Why is water constantly running into the septic tank?
This could be due to leaky fixtures, running toilets or you could have a leak somewhere in your house. Leaks or leaky fixtures can become very expensive if you are on mains water, or even more so if you are on tank water as you will not only become short of water but your pump will be continuously switching on which can shorten the life of your water pump and use electricity. Start by checking all of your taps, showers and toilets in the house, make sure they don’t drip. If you can’t find any leaky plumbing fixtures and water is still running into your septic tank, it is time to call in a plumber to investigate.
How to fix a septic tank that backs up when it rains?
There are 3 major ways to fix a septic tank that backs up when it rains.
Ensure your downpipes or external drains are not connected to your septic tank.
Reduce water usage during heavy rains to give your septic drain field time to dry out.
Ensure that you are using a septic tank treatment to reduce the build up of solids, sludge, and organic compounds that will hinder your septic tank training into your leach field and can lead to a septic system backup.
Can a septic tank backup into the house?
Yes, if the septic system is severely clogged or the tank is overfull, wastewater can back up into your house. While a clogged drain is the most common cause for septic tanks, septic system backups can also be caused by:
Tree roots growing into pipes: If you have cracked pipes, tree roots can grow into them and obstruct the flow of water
Garbage disposal issues: Garbage disposals can cause clogs in your septic system if they are not used properly
Foreign objects causing clogs: Flushing non-biodegradable items down the toilet or pouring grease down the drain can cause blockages in your septic system
Water overflow and increased usage: If you use more water than your septic system can handle, it can cause a backup
Flooding after heavy rainfall: Heavy rainfall can cause flooding that overwhelms your septic system and causes a backup
Blocked septic filter: Most septic tanks have outlet filters that prevent solid waste from overloading your drainfield. Without them, excess solid waste may enter your drainfield, which may soon stop being effective at treating the effluent from your septic system
Harsh chemicals: Overloading the system by pouring harsh chemicals down the drain can kill off the natural bacteria that play an important role in breaking down waste material in a septic system
What to do if septic tank pumped but still backing up?
If your septic tank continues to back up after being pumped, it might indicate a blockage somewhere else in your system or a saturated drain field. Using a septic tank treatment tablet is the cheapest way to see if this is the case, if this doesn’t help then you will need to call a professional in to diagnose and that is when it can start to get really expensive.
What are the best home remedies for backed up septic tank?
Here are some home remedies for a backed-up septic tank or slow drains that can be tried:
Baking soda and vinegar: Mix a quarter cup of baking soda with a half cup of vinegar and put it directly into the toilet. Then add two tablespoons of lemon juice. The baking soda combined with the vinegar causes a chemical reaction that fizzles and helps break down grime and dirt
Baking soda and hot water: Spoon baking soda into a drain of your choice and wait about 30 minutes. After that time, flush the line with hot water
Vinegar and baking soda: Pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by one cup of vinegar. Let it sit for about 30 minutes, then flush with hot water
Hot boiling water: Boil a large pot of water and pour it down the drain in stages, allowing it to work for several seconds between each pour