Early Warning Signs of a Septic Tank Problem
If you own a property with a septic tank you would be wise to familiarise yourself with the tell-tale signs of septic tank problems. There are a number of symptoms that will indicate that your septic tank needs attention and if you spot any of these please call us for assistance. If you act when you first notice one or more of these symptoms it’s more likely that a simple repair will follow. If left unresolved this may not always be possible and if your septic tank is deemed to be causing pollution or a health risk you could even find yourself liable for prosecution.
Get Your Septic Tank Checked
Before identifying the septic tank warning signs and examining the causes for many septic tank issues we should make it clear that the single most important thing you can do is get your septic tank checked and ensure that it is properly and professionally maintained. If your septic tank is serviced by us on a regular basis we can make checks for you on its health and condition. This regular septic tank inspection could alert you to the early signs of a preventable, repairable problem. In addition to being good practice, in terms of the upkeep of your septic tank, it is also a legal requirement to have your tank serviced once a year. Please contact us to organise the annual health check and inspection of your septic tank. Even if it’s not yet due, we can get you booked in so it is inspected, serviced, and maintained on schedule.
Tell-Tale Signs of a Septic Tank Problem
Here we outline some of the main causes of septic tank problems and issues, but more importantly for you, the warning signs that will alert you to a potential problem with your septic tank. We’ll start with the Septic Tank Problem warning signs and things to look out for. It is not advisable to try and carry out any work on your septic tank unless you have experience. If you believe you have a problem, please contact us for help and advice.
If there is a problem with your septic tank you may experience one or more of the following issues:
- Difficulty flushing the toilet – It may be slow flushing or it could overflow
- Slow draining baths or showers
- Awful smells
- Water may appear around the manholes for your property
- Overflowing drains
- Changes or movement in the ground around your system
- Effluent or water around your septic tank, drainage field, or your soakaway
- Slow discharge to your watercourse (if applicable) often accompanied by a horrible smell
- Your tank requires emptying more frequently
- You may experience issues with household appliances such as your dishwasher or washing machine
We can Help fix your Septic Tank!
Many septic tank problems can be resolved with the most common solutions including unblocking pipework within the system, a repair or replacement of the soakaway element of the septic tank or sewage treatment system, or in some cases it may be necessary to replace the septic tank with a sewage treatment plant.
Causes of Septic Tank Problems
The causes of septic tank problems are varied however they are generally quite easily diagnosed by an experienced sewage treatment engineer. Many problems are associated with the failure of the soakaway or drainage field. This could be due to age, poor installation of the soakaway or drainage field or it could be that the type of installation is not appropriate in terms of size or the ground type you have at the property. If the ground is clay-based soil then a soakaway is unlikely to be effective and a sewage treatment plant is more appropriate. A professional and experienced sewage engineer will check the soil type by performing a percolation test to determine the best method depending on the soil condition. Correct installation of an appropriate soakaway/drainage field or sewage treatment plant is essential to the good health and efficiency of your sewage treatment system.
Whilst the correct installation of an appropriate soakaway is important it is still only good for a limited time and a soakaway does have a lifespan. Many of the problems we see with septic tanks are age-related problems with the soakaway. This is resolved by installing a replacement soakaway.
Installing a Replacement Soakaway or Sewage Treatment System
Correct installation includes the depth of the septic tank soakaway drain field which must be constructed in the aerobic soil layer which means it must be within the top 1 metre of soil. This allows both the soakaway of liquid, but also allows effluent to be treated by aerobic soil bacteria. If the soakaway is too deep then there will be bacterial growth which will produce thick black slime, which will block your soakaway, causing it to fail.
The level of the winter water table can cause problems which means effluent cannot escape. If the winter water table becomes higher than the septic tank outlet level then the outlet pipe to the soakaway will drain the water back into the septic tank where it will mix with solids which could subsequently block the soil porosity in the soakaway.
Blocked or Damaged Pipework
Another factor for problems experienced with septic tanks is people unknowingly abusing them. By this, we mean putting items into the system that it simply cannot handle such as nappies, baby/toilet wipes, tampons, and other sanitary ware items.
Blocked or damaged pipework accounts for a number of the problems we see with septic tanks. In some cases, this is caused by the ingress of roots into the system and pipework. Other causes can be the accumulation of fat or grease which can cause blockages. In addition, the excessive use of some products such as detergents, washing powders and liquids, and cleaning products can cause sodium binding which will affect the performance of your soakaway. Over a prolonged period, sodium binding will form a waterproof layer that wastewater cannot drain through.
As mentioned previously, regular inspection and servicing of your septic tank can help prevent septic tank problems. In fact, it is now a legal requirement to have your septic tank serviced annually. Maintenance, inspection, and checking of your septic tank system are very important and should not be underestimated in keeping problems to a minimum. This annual inspection can often be the source of early identification, rectification, or prevention of septic tank issues.
There are of course many other possible causes for the malfunction or poor operation of your septic tank. If you are experiencing any issues or see any of the septic tank warning signs mentioned above or if your septic tank needs a repair or an inspection, please get in touch. Gar Construction are septic tank specialists covering the Worcestershire, Herefordshire, and Shropshire area.