When septic systems receive routine maintenance, they should perform reliably for many years - but when they’re not maintained, you run the risk of a costly and dangerous septic system failure. Although septic systems have an operational lifetime and will need to be replaced at some point in time, routine maintenance is essential for safety and stretching the septic system’s lifespan. Furthermore, a failing septic system is a risk to humans and animals, and can pollute the environment. Watch out for these signs of septic system failure so you can do something before it grows into a huge problem.
8 Signs of Septic System Failure
Septic owners should be alert to the signs of failure and respond quickly when any are found. Not only can a quick response possibly save you money in repairs, it can prevent illness and environmental damage. Keep an eye out for one or more of these signs of septic system failure:
- Toilets, drains, and sinks are backing up
- Bathtubs, showers, and sinks drain slowly
- Gurgling sounds in pipes
- Standing water or damp spots around the septic tank or drainfield
- Foul odors by the septic tank or drainfield
- Bright green, spongy grass over the septic tank or drainfield (even during dry weather)
- Algal blooms in nearby ponds or lakes
- High levels of nitrates or coliform bacteria in water wells
A septic system failure can release and transport untreated sewage to the wrong place like bringing it up to the ground surface around the tank or drainfield, or backing up in pipes in the building. The sewage can also make its way into groundwater, surface water, or marine water, carrying pathogens and other dangerous contaminants that can cause illness and contaminate water sources.
The Danger of Water Contamination
A failing septic system is a threat to the safety of well water and water bodies nearby. Untreated wastewater is a health hazard and a cause of many diseases. Once this untreated wastewater enters the groundwater, your well as well as your neighbor’s can be contaminated. If the sewage reaches nearby streams or waterbodies, shellfish beds and recreational swimming areas can be contaminated, putting humans and animals at risk.
Waste Disposal Tips
Flushing or pouring something that you shouldn’t will affect the septic tank system, possibly causing failure. One way to prevent septic tank failures is to treat your toilets and drains right.
Don’t Flush Down the Toilet
- Cooking grease or oil
- Any type of wipes (“Flushable” doesn’t mean they’re biodegradable!)
- Photographic solutions
- Feminine hygiene products
- Dental floss
- Cigarette butts
- Coffee grounds
- Cat litter
- Paper towels
- Household chemicals (gasoline, oil, pesticides, antifreeze, paint, etc.)
Don’t Pour Down Sinks
- Chemical drain openers for a clogged drain (use boiling water or a drain snake instead)
- Cooking oil or grease
- Oil-based paints, solvents, or toxic cleaners
- Garbage disposal waste (avoid or limit use to reduce the fats, grease, and solids that enter your septic tank and clog the drainfield)
Prevent Septic System Failure
Routine maintenance is essential for extending the life of your septic system and reducing health and environmental risks. There are steps you can take to prevent septic system failure like checking your system annually and pumping as needed (usually every 3-5 years). Additionally, being mindful of your water use and what you put down the drain and flush down the toilet. Contact us for more information on septic system maintenance to keep your system running like it should.
Give us a call today at (913) 681-3563 or (816) 525-5100 to schedule an appointment.