What are the most common septic tank problems? (with photos)

Overuse is one of the main causes of septic tank problems.

If a septic tank is not designed, used or maintained properly, problems can occur. The most common septic tank problems include clogs, unpleasant odors, and water contamination. Septic tank problems can be highly unsightly and in some cases are very expensive to fix. Understanding the causes of these problems can be essential to ensuring proper septic tank care and maintenance.

Toilets and other household plumbing waste can be disposed of in a septic system.

Overuse is a major cause of septic tank problems as it is not pumping the tank when needed as this promotes solids buildup. Each septic tank also needs roof vents, which ensure that the pressure within the system remains equalized. If these openings are defective or obstructed, they can cause odors.

Too much water in a septic tank can push solids into the leach field, which can cause clogs or damage the environment. Overloading the system with too much water can also cause it to fail or shut down.

Too much nitrogen in a septic tank can contaminate drinking water.

On the other hand, too little water can also cause problems, including leading to the elimination of bacteria in the system. Bacteria are needed to neutralize nitrogen, which is produced in septic tanks. If there is too much nitrogen in the system, it can lead to contamination of drinking water.

Disposing of improper items in a septic tank is another culprit responsible for septic tank problems. Only items of a biodegradable nature should be flushed down the toilet or drain. Non-biodegradable objects can clog pipes and cause waste to leak into the ground. Plastics are especially difficult, if not impossible, for a septic system to collapse.

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Putting oil in septic tanks will also cause problems. The oil will not have time to decompose and will clog the upper chamber and inlet drains. The result will be unpleasant odors and difficulty emptying the septic tank when the time comes. An excessive amount of food particles can also contribute to septic tank problems and should be restricted.

Chemicals can harm the system and paints, solvents or pesticides can render a septic tank completely useless. They can also cause the system to become a hazard to the environment. Heavy use of chemicals or cleaning powders can also contribute to nitrogen buildup.

If a system starts to emit unpleasant odors, it is a sure sign that there is a septic tank problem. This could be something as simple as needing to clean the roof vents, or it could mean that the system needs to be pumped. It could also mean that the overflow system is failing.

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