Septic Tank

8 Signs of Septic System Failure

Septic tanks provide an invaluable service to homes and the community. The purpose of a septic tank is to hold residential wastewater in an underground chamber for basic treatment. 

Septic tanks are commonly made out of plastic, fiberglass, and concrete and operate as a domestic sewage unit. When a septic unit malfunctions, sewage can spill underground and travel upward in the ground.

This can not only cause significant plumbing problems, it can also become a health hazard over time. Do you fear that your septic system may not be working? If so, here are the eight signs of septic system failure. 

1. Septic System Backup

Every plumbing appliance in your home is connected to your septic system. When your septic system fails or is full, sewage and wastewater will no longer enter the tank. Instead, it will stay in the pipes until it begins to come up.

This results in sewage and wastewater backing up into sinks, drains, and even your toilet. This is the most visible sign of septic tank failure. If you notice this symptom, you should contact a licensed plumber immediately for service. 

2. Slow Drains

Septic tank failure can also cause slow drains. For example, if a septic tank is full it won’t actively collect wastewater. This means that your pipes will be clogged full of sewage, inhibiting its ability to drain your plumbing appliances.

What happens is that your drains will become naturally slow to drain water or other liquids. No matter what tools you use to unclog your drain, you won’t succeed since the underlying problem lies in the septic tank.

Slow drains are the precursor to a full septic system backup, in which your drains don’t work at all and wastewater backs up into your home. 

3. Gurgling Sounds

You should also watch out for strange sounds when you use plumbing appliances. For example, if you flush your toilet and hear weird gurgling sounds, then you should contact a plumber immediately.

Toilets normally make water-related noises that end once it’s finished flushing. However, if you hear sounds similar to an upset stomach, then you have a clear problem. The same principle is true if you hear gurgling noises in your drains. 

Gurgling noises point to a clog or an internal septic system issue that requires immediate servicing. 

4. Pool of Water or Dampness Near Drainfield

When a septic tank fails, it will no longer absorb wastewater. This means that wastewater will naturally seep from the ground. It can form a large pool of wastewater near the drain field, or lead to dampness in the same region. 

These are perhaps the most glaring signs of septic system failure. A pool of water near the drainfield will normally look like it has rained on your lawn for a very long time. Dampness near your drainfield, especially when it hasn’t rained for days, is also suspect. 

Make sure you actively look for these symptoms if you fear that your septic tank is full or damaged. 

5. Nasty Odors

Another tell-tale sign of septic system failure is the presence of nasty odors near the drainfield and plumbing appliances. If you detect strong and foul odors when you walk outside and step into your lawn, then your septic tank likely has failed.

If your home has the same foul odors, then you can draw a similar conclusion. These nasty odors point to the presence of sewage that has crested the drainfield and worked its way into your main drain line. 

6. Unusual, Bright Green Grass Above Drainfield

Have you ever seen people place mulch, fertilizers, and manure on their grass to help it grow? Sewage can have the same properties as manure, containing nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and micronutrients that plants can absorb to grow. 

Therefore, if you notice any unusually green grass near your drainfield, wastewater is likely leaking into your lawn. Since grass is naturally green, spotting this symptom can be tricky. 

Wastewater will contribute to abnormal levels of greenness in your grass to an extent in which you’ll definitely notice. Pay close attention to your drainfield to spot this issue before it becomes too problematic. 

7. Blooms of Algae in Nearby Water

If you live near a water source such as a nearby lake or pond, then watch out for sudden algal blooms. This symptom can also be tricky to diagnose since most people consider the presence of algae to be a normality. 

However, algal blooms happen when a large proportion of algae form in a pool of water. They’re unnatural and look like the water has been overly contaminated with algae. The presence of wastewater can contribute to the abnormal growth of algae.

8. High Levels of Coliform in Water Well

If you have a nearby water well, you can also detect abnormal levels of coliform bacteria and nitrates. Your water well will naturally be free from bacteria and harsh chemicals, but septic system failure will result in contamination from nearby wastewater. 

Give Us a Call Today!

Are you experiencing any issues with your septic tank? If so, give us a call today at (941) 721-4645 to speak to a member of our team. You can also click here to learn more about our septic services. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do you have any more questions about septic systems? If so, you can find a complete list of FAQs below.

How much do septic system repair services cost?

  • Septic system repair services can cost anywhere between $500 to $2,000. The final cost depends on the scope of work, hours of labor, etc. 

Can a septic drainfield be repaired?

  • There is no easy fix to repairing a drainfield, but it’s possible if you hire an experienced plumber or septic system professional. 

How often do septic systems need to be replaced?

  • With proper maintenance, septic systems can last more than 40 years. The average septic tank needs to be inspected and pumped every three years to prevent long-term issues and septic system failure. 

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