Common Septic Tank Drainage Problems and Solutions

Failures in septic tank systems and drainage problems are very rarely an overnight phenomenon. Rather, problems with the system have likely been building over the longer term, usually between one and two decades.

Even though problems will have been quietly building and hidden within the system for a number of years, the symptoms of septic tank and drainage system faults are highly visible and of course usually smelly! Here are common problems that you are unlikely to miss, indicating that you have issues:

Septic Tank System Drainage Problems and Symptoms

Septic tank systems and drainage problems often involve expensive repairs, serious clean-up jobs and unwelcome odours.


Septic Tank Drainage Problems

Here is a list of common symptoms, which you will find difficult not to notice, if you have septic tank system drainage problems:

  • Overflowing toilets.
  • Strange gurgling noises coming from the drains.
  • Baths and showers backup when you empty a
  • Overflows where your washing machine is plumbed in.
  • Wet waste, accompanied by foul smells, bogging up in the land around your drainage field or soakaway.
  • Drains smell.
  • Toilets become very slow to flush.
  • Drainage inspection chambers fill up with waste, where they should be empty.
  • Pollution of nearby streams and ditches.
  • Soil becomes dipped near the soakaway or in the drainage field.

Septic tank failures can also be caused when the septic bacteria are accidently killed by household cleaning chemicals or medications taken by household owners for an illness. Other areas of failure include the septic pump, filters, or aerator malfunctions.

Septic Tank Drain Field Problems and Symptoms

Septic drain fields are expensive. In fact they are usually the most costly component of the septic tank system. However, they are also one of the most important, so it’s important to know how to check and maintain the septic drain field correctly. Knowing the considerations to keep in mind for maintenance and identifying problems is the key to keeping the septic tank system functioning, now and into the future.

Here is a list of common septic tank drain field problems and symptoms:

  • Bio mat balancing problems – caused by sludge overspills.
  • Grease capping – caused by grease build-ups and cutting off the oxygen in the field.
  • Lack of pump-outs and tank cleaning
  • Broken pipes or excessive soil compacting from vehicles parking in the field
  • Outdated system design leading to capacity issues
  • Tree roots infiltrating the system including getting in to the distribution box, septic media filters, pumps or into the field itself.
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