When your Septic Tank backs up into your house, you know there is a problem. But what is causing it? Can it be prevented? In this article, we will dive deeper into a few of the common problems that cause backups, and then how to prevent them so you don't have to worry.
Damaged or Clogged Inlet Line.
Sometimes, your tank itself isn't causing a backup. Instead, the pipe between your house and septic tank may be clogged or damaged. Clogs can occur due to excessive paper buildup, grease or foreign objects trapped inside. Damages such as collapsed lines, tree roots or broken fittings can also stop the wastewater from reaching the tank. These problems cannot be solved by pumping the tank, and often times require Hydro-Jetting, Drain Cleaning or repairs to the existing line to be done.
Damaged or Clogged Baffles.
On both the inlet and the outlet side, septic tanks have baffles that are designed to direct the solid waste away from the pipes and prevent excessive solids buildup. If you wait too long to pump the tank, the solids will eventually become trapped in the baffles and have nowhere to go. Eventually, you will have a sewer backup into your home. Also, due to age, sewer gasses or other issues, these can sometimes need repaired or replaced. Modern systems will have 4" Schedule 40 PVC Sanitary Tee baffles. Older systems may have steel or concrete baffles in place.
Damaged or Clogged Outlet Line.
The outlet line, leading to your drainfield can become damaged or clogged, which won't allow the waste to leave the tank. Eventually, that tank will fill up and cause a sewer backup (not to mention excessive solids entering the lateral lines).
Plugged Lateral Lines.
If too many solids escape the tank and enter the drainfield, your lateral lines will eventually become plugged and not allow the effluent wastewater from your tank to drain into the surrounding soil. Typically, repairs to the drainfield are not effective, and oftentimes require new installation. The best "Cure" for drainfield problems is prevention. Having regular servicing performed on your septic tank, along with working baffles on your outlet line will help prevent solids from entering your lines. You can also add an Outlet Filter to further protect your lines from excessive solids.
Swampy/Saturated Soil Over Tank or Drainfield (Surfacing Effluent).
The soil around your septic system should stay dry all year long (except for during rains, obviously). If you notice pooling water over your tank or drainfield, there is a problem that will need solved. Simply ignoring it will not make it go away, and you're also causing a health hazard by allowing untreated wastewater (human waste) to run off into neighboring properties, streets, streams or ponds. Surfacing Effluent can be by overloading the septic system and not allowing the soil to properly absorb and treat the wastewater. It can also be caused as a result of plugged lateral lines. If effluent is surfacing even with proper maintenance, then it could be the result on non-percolating soil around the drainfield. Avoid running too much water through the house at one time, and have your tank serviced regularly to help prevent a mess.