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Knowledge Centre > Articles > 5 Signs Your Home Needs Major Septic Services

5 Signs Your Home Needs Major Septic Services


13 May 2020

Septic systems need to be serviced every two to five years, depending on your household size and the system's capacity. Lack of maintenance or misuse of the septic system, such as flushing diapers or wipes, using large amounts of harsh chemicals or flushing grease or food into the system could result in some major septic system problems. Here are five clear signs that your home is in need of urgent septic system repairs.

1. Odors

A septic system in disrepair may cause foul odors to develop in your home or outside around the area of the leach field and septic tank. In your home, you might notice sewage odors coming from otherwise clean toilets, bathtub and sink drain, laundry tubs and the kitchen drain. The smell may get worse if it has been a while since the plumbing fixture was last used.

Inside, the smell could either be from sewage gases backing up into the system or actual sewage backing up your pipes. Outdoors, you may notice a strong sewage smell. The odor will get stronger the closer you are to the septic tank or drain field. An outdoor odor of sewage may be related to sewage seeping outside of the leach field or a break in one of the septic pipes.

2. Sewage or Water Backups

A backup of sewage or wastewater into your home is a clear sign that you need septic services. Sewage might back up just one of your fixtures, or it could bubble up multiple plumbing fixtures at the same time. Your main wastewater drain, toilets, sinks, and laundry drains are the most likely locations for a sewage backup. Water may also back up into your home. This could be the wastewater from running the dishwasher or washing machine. The water or sewage backs up because it has nowhere else to go. There could be a break in a pipe, or the septic tank might be full.


3. Soggy or Extra-verdant Yard

According to the Washington Department of Health, an unusually lush area of growth around your septic drain field is a sign that your septic system is overdue for service. The waste may be overflowing from the septic tank, fueling the growth of your lawn. If the drain field area is growing faster, thicker and greener than the rest of your grass, it's important to schedule septic tank services. Walk around the area and check for soggy or spongy spots.

If you notice pooled water or muddy spots near the septic tank or its drain field, the system may be at or over its capacity. The drain field may have failed, which requires an urgent repair before any environmental contamination develops.

4. Gurgling Drains

Gurgling drains also suggest a septic system problem. The gurgling sound is a result of air trying to get around an obstruction. The air gets forced out through somewhere else, such as the overflow outlet. There are a few reasons why the drains might gurgle. There could be a gas bubble of the breakdown of sewage within the tank. A more likely cause is an obstruction. A blocked vent pipe is one of the most common causes of gurgling drains. Vent pipes are often located on the roof of a home.

It is possible for a bird's nest or some other debris to obstruct the pipe. Consider taking a look to see if the pipe is blocked. If the vent is clear, then it is time to call the plumber for septic system servicing. A broken pipe could also cause gurgling sounds from your home's drains.

5. Slow Drains

Slow drains are another sign that some plumbing repairs are necessary. Over time, soap scum, grease, hair, and skin cells form a sticky obstruction in drains and pipes. A fully saturated drain field or a septic tank that is at capacity can also cause slow draining. Using too much water all at once could cause an occasional slow drain. If you have noticed that most or all of the drains in your home empty slowly, it is time to call the plumber.

Keeping up with regular septic system maintenance prevents most emergencies. However, septic systems do need repairs, servicing, and replacements after many years of moderate to heavy use.