Does A Sewage Backup Mean Your Septic System Needs Repairs?

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Understanding Septic System Problems

After we moved into a home with a septic system, I realized that we had to do something to understand what to expect. We started reading more and more about septic issues, and before we knew it, we had our first problem. Fortunately, because we were prepared, we didn't have to second guess our decision to call a repair person. Now when we have septic system issues, we don't worry as much about it and it is a great feeling. This blog is all about understanding common septic system problems and knowing how to fix them the first time around.


Does A Sewage Backup Mean Your Septic System Needs Repairs?

28 July 2023
 Categories: , Blog

Septic systems are a surprisingly trouble-free way to deal with wastewater in areas where municipal sewer hook-ups may be unavailable or cost-prohibitive. However, these systems are only reliable when well-maintained. A poorly maintained septic system can often be a source of major trouble and can even lead to major damage if it causes sewage to back up into occupied spaces.

Unfortunately, many people may delay dealing with septic problems because they fear the cost will be too high. The reality is that a slow-running or backed-up septic system may not need repairs at all. In some cases, these problems simply occur due to deferred maintenance. Pumping your septic tank may resolve the problem, but quick action is necessary to avoid causing more permanent damage.

Why Do Septic Systems Back Up?

Aside from the usual clogs in any plumbing drainage system, septic systems typically back up when something prevents the usual wastewater flow into the drain field. The drain field is your septic system's terminus, the last stop on the line. Perforated pipes (called drain tiles) release wastewater in the drainfield, allowing it to filter away bacteria and other pathogens naturally.

Anything that prevents the drainfield from filtering water or that stops wastewater from reaching the drainfield will eventually cause sewage to back up into your home. These problems often produce numerous early warning signs, including gurgling from drains or nasty odors that may be detectable inside or outside your home.

How Does Deferred Maintenance Cause Septic Back Ups?

Your septic tank contains three general categories of waste: grease (scum), solids (sludge), and liquid (effluent). These categories naturally separate into layers in the tank, with scum on top and sludge on the bottom. This separation is what allows your septic system to work. The tank design ensures that, under normal operating conditions, only effluent can escape into the drainfield.

Meanwhile, sludge and scum will accumulate in the tank. Helpful bacteria in the tank keep sludge levels from accumulating too quickly, and regularly pumping your tank prevents this waste from clogging the tank's outlet or damaging the drainfield. The longer you go without pumping the tank, the higher the likelihood of grease or solid waste creating a blockage or causing damage.

Can Pumping Your Tank Resolve a Sewage Backup?

There's no denying that waiting too long to pump your tank will eventually cause permanent damage. However, pumping your tank should almost always be your first option when dealing with a septic overflow. In many cases, the issue may be excessively high solid or grease waste levels in the tank, preventing effluent flow into the drainfield.

Pumping your tank as soon as you notice a problem can minimize potential damage to your septic system, allowing you to avoid far more expensive repairs to your home's drainfield.

For more information, contact a company such as Morris Septic & Sewer.