If you have a septic tank, you'll be well aware of the joys they bring to your life. I mean, how else do you expect to live in a beautiful rural area with no sewage connection?
That's exactly what septic tanks allow you to do.
Now as a homeowner that relies on a septic tank one of the last things you want is a faulty or overflowing septic tank. It's probably your worst nightmare.
Most of the time thankfully though they stayed buried and out of sight, probably out of mind. But when things go wrong, boy do they go wrong.
There are some best practices you can follow to keep your septic tank in tiptop condition. Simple things like sticking to a regular emptying schedule or keeping an eye out for those regular signs that it's full.
But there are some things that are just out of your control, things you can't stop going wrong.
So, with that in mind, we're going to highlight some of the most commons septic tank problems, and how you can avoid, or fix them.
First things first, septic tanks have some common warning signs you need to keep a look out for to spot any potential problems. These include:
Even the smallest nudge could have a big impact. Any change in ground movement can point a tremendous amount of pressure on your septic tank. This can potentially cause fractures or even cracks in the walls of your septic tank.
If this happens bigger septic tank problems can arise.
This is always a tricky one and is not always the easiest to plan for. You never really know where those roots are going to grow. Tree roots are capable of pushing through most obstacles they come across over time.
If your septic tank is located too close to trees and shrubs this can cause problems as the roots can actually grow through the tank walls. They may even get through the pipes that lead from the tank to your house.
Again, this can cause problems because the roots may allow liquid from the tank to escape and water from the ground to get in. Both of which prevents the septic tank from working properly.
Not to mention all of this will create a horrible mess in the surrounding area.
Nope, this isn't a medical condition. However, this is a very serious septic tank problem.
The baffle is actually a barrier within the tank. It makes sure none of the lumpy stuff escapes into the septic tank soakaway system. So, if this collapses that solid stuff (effluent) could get into your soakaway system and cause blockage. This could then mean all the wastewater backs up into your house. Which is a big fat no.
This is probably the most common problem, and it's the easiest one to avoid. It is essential to get your septic tank emptied regularly.
The exact schedule will vary from tank to tank, for some it's once a year, but for others, it could be 4-5. For some, the septic tank system may never need to be emptied. Nevertheless, regular emptying will keep your septic tank in the best condition, and prevent anymore common septic tank problems from popping up.
It's important to keep on top of your schedule, most septic tank emptying companies will be able to schedule you in. If you know it's yearly, just book the same date every year with the same company and you’re sorted.
Depending on the type of septic tank you have will dictate whether it has dip pipes, a baffle or both. Dip pips perform a similar function to the baffle we touched on earlier. It makes sure the correct type of waste flows into the soakaway system.
In case you forgot, no lumpy stuff.
Sometimes during inspections, the dip pip is often found chilling at the base of the tank. (It's not meant to be chilling).
This can happen for a variety of reasons, most commonly it's been knocked off during emptying. When this happens, the wrong stuff gets into the septic tank soakaway system, and you guessed it, can get back into your house.
As septic tanks are underground it's not always obvious where they are. Some people don't even know they exist so!
Most properties that rely on septic tanks are out in the lovely countryside. It can sometimes, (on rare occasions) be that farm vehicles such as tractors drive over your septic tank. Again, depending on where your septic tank is, someone could also park on it.
This extra weight can put enough pressure on your septic tank and cause some significant damage. Possibly even causing it to collapse. So make sure septic tanks are clearly marked to avoid any extra weight, if you use a soakaway system it's best to keep this contained and marked out as well.
This is a very rare occurrence, but it can happen. Hydro-static pressure occurs when the volume of water beneath the tank is so high it cause the tank to "pop out of the ground".
If this happens it's a very serious problem and needs to be dealt with as quickly as possible by trained professionals.
Believe it or not some tanks can be very old. We’re talking 100 years old. These can vary drastically to new models. For example, they would not have had dip pipes and would often have been a single instead of double chamber structure.
Now if you're tank is this old it will still be doing its job as best as it can. However, this will be nowhere as efficient as a newer model. Due to its age it may be more susceptible to clogs, breaks, and other types of damage.
Your septic tank could have been doomed from the start. Correctly installing a septic tank or soakaway is not an easy job, and there's always a chance of human error.
As you can imagine there could be a handful of problems arising if your septic tank is not installed properly. However, the biggest issue will be if the system does not comply with legislation.
If this is the case the owner of the property can be prosecuted. So, it's no joke. No one wants to go to prison over a dodgy septic tank.
There are two things you need to ensure.
The soil surrounding your septic tank can also cause your septic tank problems. Before septic tank systems are installed a percolation test must be carried out, this is to ensure that the ground conditions at the property are appropriate.
For example, if the ground is too wet soakaway systems won't work properly. As you can imagine over the years conditions will change, and the ground may be more saturated with standing water. This means the original soakaway system installed may no longer be suitable for the new conditions it finds itself in.
Septic tanks can cause owners all types of problems, if you're new to the world of septic tanks it will be best to get an understanding of these common problems.
Some of these common septic tank problems are hard to avoid, and some are completely out of your control. The easy answer is you will not be able to fix these yourself.
There are various repairs that could resolve your septic tank problems; however, this could also be the equivalent of putting a plaster over them. It's always best to not take any chances with septic tanks as the results can be very damaging to your property, your wallet and the environment.
To ensure your tank is properly repaired it will be best to book a septic tank inspection. This will uncover any issues and fixes needed.
If you decide to repair or replace your septic tank, make sure you stick to a regular emptying schedule to ensure your septic tank is properly maintained. You'll also benefit from having a regular septic tank inspection. This will reduce the chances of these septic tank problems popping up again in the future.
The easiest way to avoid these septic tank issues is to look after your septic system. This means avoiding flushing things like toilet paper, wet wipes etc and sticking to a regular maintenance schedule, getting your tank pumped at regular intervals.
At D-Tox we have over 20 years of experience in carrying out septic tank emptying, operating in the UK we cover most of the West Midlands. If you are in our coverage area and think you may need your septic tank emptying give us a call!