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What's That Smell? 5 Signs Your Septic System Needs to Be Emptied

septic system

For millions of homeowners in the United States that have a septic system, regular maintenance is a must. While your septic system will operate efficiently for years without much help from you, it is not designed to keep operating indefinitely without maintenance.

In addition to ensuring that your system is operating as it should on a regular basis, you should have a professional inspection performed every three years. You should also have your tank pumped every three to five years.

Several factors influence the rate at which your septic tank fills up, including the size of your family and the amount of waste you pump through your system. If you notice any of the following signs or symptoms, your tank is accepting more waste than it can handle. It needs to be emptied.

Slow Drain

Everything you put down your drain goes through your septic system, including dishwater and shower water. Wastewater is not held in your septic tank. Instead, it is filtered through your drain field, which means it normally moves through your system at a quick pace. If your system is full of solid waste, however, it can hinder or halt the flow of wastewater through your system.

One of the first signs of a full septic tank is slow drains. If all of your drains are slow, including your kitchen sink and shower, you know the problem is not localized or a clogged pipe. It could very well by a full septic system.

Horrible Odor

Full and failing septic systems all have one symptom in common: odor. If you smell sewage coming from your drain, your septic tank or your drain field, you have a problem. If you cannot find the source of the smell, call a plumber or your septic tank professional.

Smells that are localized to one drain may indicate a problem in the pipe or that the trap needs to be cleaned. This is especially true if it has not been flushed with water in some time.

Sewer Backup

When your septic tank or main sewer line gets clogged, you may experience sewer backup in your home. Following are a few signs of sewer backup:

  • Water backing up through drains
  • Bubbles coming up through clogged drains
  • Toilets seem perpetually clogged
  • Sewage material on basement floor or in sinks

As you can imagine, sewage in your home is not sanitary or healthy. If you think your sewer is backed up, it's vital that you call for help right away.

Standing Water

A full septic system may push water out and over the tank wall, resulting in standing water in the yard near the septic tank. Clogs or failures at any point along your septic system route can also cause standing water, which is why it can sometimes be difficult to determine what's causing the problem on your own.

If you have a puddle in your yard or if an area is always soggy, you should have your septic system inspected.

Overflowing Tank

If you look into your septic system and see a lot of sludge and raw sewage material pushing to the top of your tank, it is full and needs to be pumped. Keep in mind that there will always be solid sewage in your holding tank, and that's the way it's supposed to be. However, the material should not be overly close to the top of your holding tank.

If it has been a few years since your last septic tank inspection or if you think there is a problem with your system, call the experts at Chuck Keene Septic Tank Pumping Service to make an appointment.