If you haven’t lived with a septic tank for many years, this type of plumbing system can take some getting used to. Septic systems are a bit more finicky than plumbing systems with a sewer line that connects to the municipal sewer, and they also require more maintenance.
Below we’ll go over some of the most common reasons why homeowners encounter problems with their septic tanks and systems.
1. Too much water was used at once.
Your septic system can only handle so much water at a time. If you use a lot of water all at once (like if your household all takes showers one after the other or if you run multiple loads of laundry in a row), this can overwhelm your septic tank.
So much water enters the tank that it doesn’t allow the scum to rise to the top and sludge to sink to the bottom. Because that natural “settling” action doesn’t occur and solids are moving around, clogs can form, and your septic tank might become unable to release wastewater into the drain field.
2. Something damaged the drain field.
Your septic system decontaminates wastewater collected from your home and releases it into the ground in an area called the drain field. Sometimes trees or other plants with invasive roots can disrupt the drainage process. It’s also possible for the pipes to be damaged by earth movements, shifting soil, or excessive weight (ex. if someone parks a tractor or car on top of the drain field).
For this reason, it’s crucial that you never park on your drain field and that you leave the area clear of any vegetation with invasive roots that might damage the pipes underground.
3. Something was flushed that should not have been flushed.
Something that people don’t always realize is that whatever goes down your sink, shower drain, or toilet ends up in the same place. If you own a septic system, things that go down your drains will end up in your septic tank (unless they clog a pipe along the way).
At all costs, you should avoid putting anything down your drains but your normal bodily functions and toilet paper. Any other objects are liable to cause clogs, including:
- Paper towels, facial tissue, and napkins
- Wet wipes
- Feminine hygiene products
- Cooking grease
- Adhesives, grout, and mortar
4. Poor Design or Installation
Installing a septic tank is not a DIY weekend project. Not only do you need to ensure that the tank is sized appropriately for your household’s usage, but both the tank and drain field need to be installed properly in the soil. There must be adequate room for each component, and the equipment must be level.
Furthermore, the soil must be suitable for a drain field installation. If it’s swampy or soggy, this is going to interfere with the treatment and drainage process. Bottom line: you’re going to get what you pay for with a septic tank installation, and a remarkably cheap quote may cost you more in the long run.