Understanding The Signs And Problems Caused By Too Much Water In Your Septic Tank

Posted on: 24 October 2016

If you have a septic system attached to your home to deal with all of the fluid and solid wastes that are produced, then you probably know that the tank needs to be emptied well before it fills up. Septic tanks typically need to be cleaned out every three to five years. You will notice some signs that the tank is starting to fill up to a point where it needs to be emptied. One sign is a foul odor coming from your drainage field. If you notice this smell, then it can mean that the sludge on the bottom of the tank has expanded to the point where solids are moving out of the fluid drainage line. If you have had your septic tank emptied within the last few years, then you also may have a problem with excessive water entering the septic tank. Keep reading to learn how too much water can cause issues with your septic tank and also find out about some other signs that may indicate this is your problem.

Problems Caused By Excessive Water In Your Septic Tank

Septic tanks are not simply a space where fecal matter is held. They are also the containment tanks for all the materials that wash down your drains. This means that all the bits of food, soap, cleaning chemicals, hair, and water that go down your drains will accumulate in your septic tank. Most septic tanks are only so large, with the average sized tank holding about 1,000 gallons of waste. The average person flushes between about 76 and 95 gallons of water down the drain each day. If the septic tank held all of this water, then the tank would fill up within a few months.

To make sure that the septic tank does not fill up quickly, the water from the tank drains outdoors through a drainage field. However, the drainage field can only handle so much water at one time since the fluid must work its way into the soil and drain down into the earth. If the drainage field cannot handle all of the waste water, then some of the fluid will remain in the septic tank. Typically, the water will mix with the solid waste. Under normal circumstances, the solid wastes will sink to the tank bottom and separate from the fluid. However, if there is too much water, then the fluid level will rise too quickly and empty out of the tank as soon as it can. Solid wastes mixed with the water will then travel to the drainage field.

Other Signs Of Excessive Fluid In Septic Tank

It can be difficult to tell if there is an issue with a septic tank that is full or a tank that simply has too much water in it. However, there are some signs to look for that indicate that you need to cut down on water usage instead of investing in another septic cleaning service. Tanks that contain a great deal of fluid will often flood the drainage field with water to the point that your property is always saturated with water in the area. Look for puddles across the surface of your property. If solid wastes travel with the water, then you may see the grass over the septic field growing faster and taller than the rest of the greenery on your property. In this case, the solid wastes are acting as a fertilizer. 

You may hear intermittent bubbling coming from the drains too. The bubbling will occur as the air and fluid in your pipes tries to drain into your septic tank. If the tank is filling up, then the wastes will drain much more slowly. The air in the pipes may then rise and escape through your drains and make a bubbling sound. If this sound comes and goes, then this is a good sign of water accumulation in the septic tank. You may notice the issue when multiple people take a shower in a short period of time or when you use the washer, dishwasher, and your sink all at ounce. As the water drains and dissipates, you will likely not hear the gurgling until the next time you use a lot of water.

It is wise to hire a professional plumber to inspect your tank and your drainage field for potential issues if you start to notice problems. There is a chance that there may be a clog somewhere along the drainage field. However, if no clog problem is located, then start to look for ways that you can reduce your water usage so the septic issue resolves itself. Otherwise, you may end up with a drainage field failure or a clog problem in the future. Talk to a plumber for more about this topic.

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Knowing When It’s Time to Call the Plumber

My name is Jason Lawrence, or around my house I’m sometimes known as “Daddy Fix-It.” My wife Sarah and I have four children all under the age of ten. I didn’t start out as a guy who was handy around the house, but I am learning to become a do-it-yourselfer for sure. Did I mention that I’m a bit stubborn? There are times I struggle with projects a little too long, and it takes my wife stepping in to convince me that it’s time to call a professional. I’ve become especially handy with plumbing projects. I don’t know why kids think toys belong in the toilet and doll hair is good for the bathtub drain, but around here those are weekly events. I’m going to share some of my experiences, how I fixed some of our plumbing problems, and when it becomes time to call the plumber.

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