Understanding Septic Tank Problems and How to Fix Them

Understanding Septic Tank Problems and How to Fix Them

Septic tanks are an essential component of any home or building’s plumbing system. They are responsible for separating and treating sewage and wastewater, ensuring that only clean water is released into the environment. However, like any other system, septic tanks are prone to problems that homeowners must address promptly to prevent property damage and health hazards.

Here’s a comprehensive guide on common septic tank problems and how to fix them.

Clogged Pipes

One of the most common septic tank problems is clogged pipes. This often happens when solid wastes, such as food particles, toilet paper, and grease, accumulate in the pipes and block the free flow of wastewater. Clogged pipes can cause unpleasant odors, slow drainage, and even sewage backups.

If you notice any signs of clogged pipes, such as gurgling sounds or slow running drains, it’s essential to address the issue immediately. Here are a few ways to fix clogged pipes:

1. Use a plunger – A plunger can help dislodge blockages in the pipes by creating pressure to force the unwanted materials to move down the drain. However, ensure that the plunger is the right size for your drain and that you use it correctly to avoid damaging your pipes.

2. Auger/snake – An auger or snake is a long, flexible tool that you can use to push materials blocking the pipes deeper into the septic tank. It’s ideal for stubborn blockages that are challenging to remove using a plunger.

3. Call a professional – If DIY methods fail to work, you may need to contact septic tank professionals to help you deal with the issue. They have the expertise and specialized tools to identify and repair clogged pipes safely and effectively.


Leakage is another common septic tank problem that can lead to contaminated groundwater and soil. Leaks can occur due to a variety of reasons, including cracks in the tank, broken pipes, and corroded fittings. Identifying and fixing leakages is crucial to prevent damage to the environment and potential health hazards.

Here are a few ways to fix septic tank leaks:

1. Locate the leak – The first step is to identify the source of the leak. This often requires a careful inspection of the tank and pipes to determine where the wastewater is escaping.

2. Repair or replace damaged components – Depending on the extent of the damage, you may need to replace or repair the damaged components, such as pipes, fittings, or the septic tank itself.

3. Pump out the tank – Once the repair work is complete, it’s essential to pump out the septic tank to remove any remaining wastewater and prevent further leakage.

System Backup

Septic tank backups occur when the tank becomes too full or when the drainage field gets clogged. This can cause sewage backups, unpleasant odors, and safety hazards. A septic tank backup can be a significant inconvenience and require immediate attention.

Here are a few ways to fix system backups:

1. Pump out the tank – Pumping out the septic tank is often the first line of defense against backups. It removes the excess solids and wastewater, giving the system room to work correctly.

2. Clear the drainage field – If the septic tank is not the issue, the problem may lie with the drainage field. This often requires digging up and removing the debris that is causing the blockage.

3. Add bacteria or enzymes – Bacteria and enzymes can help break down solid waste in the septic tank, preventing backups and other issues.


1. How often should I pump my septic tank?

It’s recommended that septic tanks get pumped every three to five years to prevent solids from building up and causing problems. However, the frequency may depend on the size of the household, the size of the tank, and the amount of use.

2. What should I avoid putting into my septic tank?

Avoid flushing non-biodegradable materials such as plastics, diapers, and sanitary pads into your septic tank. Additionally, avoid pouring greases, fats, oils, and chemicals such as household cleaners, pesticides, and solvents down the drain, as they can damage the system.

3. How long do septic tanks last?

The average lifespan of a septic tank is between 20-40 years, depending on the tank’s material and maintenance habits. Regular inspections, cleanings, and pumping can help prolong the life of the septic tank.

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