June 21, 2024

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4 Essential Signs That a Septic Tank Needs to Be Pumped

4 Essential Signs That a Septic Tank Needs to Be Pumped

If your toilet flushes and the drains in your sinks and showers work like a charm, it’s likely you don’t often think about the health of your septic system. And it would be nice if it always stayed that way.

Of course, the best way to keep your septic system in good operation is by scheduling regular tank pump-outs and septic system inspections. However, if you’re simply not sure when you last had your septic tank pumped, there are also some telltale indicators that a pump-out may be overdue. They include:

1. Healthy Grass Around the Septic Tank

A typical septic system includes a pipe that carries all household wastewater (from your toilets, sinks, showers/baths, and washing machines) out to a tank buried in your yard. It is there that good bacteria gets to work breaking down the solids that come in with the heavier particles falling to the bottom of the tank and forming a layer of sludge. From there the treated liquid effluent is sent out of the tank through a series of perforated pipes into a drain field where it is slowly released into the soil. Believe it or not, there are a lot of nutrients in waste, so if your grass around your buried tank is significantly greener and lusher, it could be an indication that your tank is overfull and the wastewater coming out of it is undertreated.

2. Strong Odors From Drain Pipes

Septic system gases are made up of methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, but even if you didn’t know their composition, no one has to tell you how unpleasant they smell. If your tank is overfull, wastewater has nowhere else to go but to backup into the household drains that lead to it–your toilets, sinks, and showers/tubs.

A similar problem can occur on the other end with undissolved solid waste getting pushed into the distribution pipes that lead into your backyard. If you’re getting nasty smells out in your yard, chances are good your tank is too full to properly treat your wastewater.

3. Pipes Draining Slowly After Being Unclogged

Sometimes a tank is not overfull, but there is a clog in the pipe leading to it that can cause a backup and those awful smells to occur. This can sometimes happen if someone in the household flushes something they shouldn’t or if hair or soap scum or other materials create a build-up. However, if the source of the clog has been removed (or you’re experiencing frequent clogging) and your drains are still not working well, it could be an indication your tank is overfull, and wastewater is backing up.

4. Water Around the Septic Tank

If the ground around your septic tank outside is often soggy, soft and spongy despite the rest of your yard being dry, it’s a good indication your tank is overfull, and wastewater is leaking out the sides. Water may even begin to puddle around it. You’ll know the difference, too, between sewage and puddling rainwater. Rainwater isn’t accompanied by that awful sewage smell.

The best way to avoid such problems and keep your septic system in good working order is by having your tank pumped out on a regular schedule by a professional septic service company. How often you should pump out your tank depends on its size, the number of people in your household, and the volume of waste your household produces. However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends septic tanks be pumped every three to five years to remove the sludge buildup that collects inside and to avoid endangering the environment.