Is My Septic System Failing?

Make sure you know how to identify the warning signs of a failing septic system.

Failing septic systems are harmful because they can leak untreated wastewater, possibly transferring diseases to humans (and other animals).

Septic systems on the brink can leak excessive bacteria and nutrients into the local ecosystem, destroying plant and animal habitats in the process. If you notice any of the following symptoms inside and outside of your home, you may have a problem with your septic system that needs to be addressed.

Muddy Soil Or Wastewater Around the Tank

You may notice that the grass is green and lush near your septic tank area but that the ground is wet and mushy underfoot. Excess amounts of liquid from the failing septic tank can rise up, providing nutrient-rich waste to the soil adjacent to your home. You may notice a strong odor coming from the pools of wastewater.

Your House Smells Like Sewage

The smell of sewage isn't hard to identify. And you don't have to be near a toilet to smell the odor either, as showers, tubs, and sinks can offer up the unbearable smells of sewage gas.

Backups when you do laundry, take showers, or flush the toilet.

Your septic tank may be full and not able to handle the amount of solids that have been flushed down the toilet over time, causing poor drainage and gurgling pipes.

Main reasons for septic system failure.

Old age. Well-maintained systems can last 30-35 years, but they all have a chance to fail sooner if they're not properly designed, installed, or maintained.

Improperly maintained. Consider having your septic system pumped every three to five years as a rule of thumb. Spending a few hundred dollars to have your system pumped pales in comparison to the many thousands of dollars it will cost you to replace an existing system.

Improper operation. Septic tanks are not made to hold toys and daily doses of unwanted grease down the drain. Keep in mind that things like diapers, cat litter, tampons, paper towels, and cigarette butts do not break down easily after they are flushed, but they will break down your septic system over time.

Improper installation. You'll always want a septic system installed by a contractor who has formal training in the installation of on-site systems. If you ever have questions about an existing septic system, always consult the professionals.

Outside ground water. If storm water is allowed to seep into the septic system, your chances of a failed septic system increase dramatically.

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