The 4 Most Common Septic System Problems

Septic systems are designed to process human waste and decompose it anaerobically over time. Most of the time they function perfectly, but much like any system with some amount of complexity, they are prone to some problems. Here we discuss the common septic systems problems.

Functioning Septic Systems

Septic systems break human and organic waste down into their constituent parts. The bacterial decomposition results in the formation of solids, liquids and gases. The solid part of it settles to the bottom of the tank, where it remains until it is removed by a septic tank pumper (which should be every 1 to 3 years). The gases and liquids are regularly released from the tank vents and pipes.

Almost every household has used their septic system as a dumping ground for non-organic waste. From plastic objects to tampons, people flush a wide variety of objects down the toilet, which the septic process was never designed to handle. These objects, if they do not block the pipes, make it to the septic tank and just sit there taking up space. These objects are non-biodegradable the bacteria cannot decompose them and they can only be removed by pumping the tank out.

Four of the most common problems with septic tanks are as follows:

  1. Excess water being sent to the septic tank. Excess water is never good for a septic tank because it makes the solids overflow through the vents and pipes, which then blocks them. The blockage can completely stop the system from working and cause a backup into your house.
  2. Sending paint thinners and solvents into the septic tank. These are toxic substances which are not good for the soil of the system, where they will finally find home because they are non-biodegradable too.
  3. Using too many household detergents. These detergents contain phosphates, which are helpful in algae growth. Algae can block pipes and then make the septic tank overflow.
  4. Flushing non-biodegradable products down the toilet (mentioned earlier). Non-biodegradable substances need to be regularly pumped out of the tank just because bacteria cannot decompose them.

How to solve common septic system problems:

  • Use a lesser amount of water than you do normally to solve the problem the excess water problem. There are various solutions to easily reduce water consumption. You can find some examples at your local hardware store.
  • Do not dispose of non-biodegradable waste into the septic system. At all. Ever.
  • Do not use the common detergents; instead use liquid soaps and gel soaps which do not contain phosphates.
  • Do not dispose of toxic substances like paint thinners and solvents into the septic system.
  • Finally, have your septic system pumped every few years. One to three years is the duration advised by the experts as an acceptable amount of time between pumpings.