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Many homes in Chattanooga, TN have septic systems that require septic tank pumping. Homeowners familiar with them know that proper maintenance is critical for their effectiveness. For everything to literally run smoothly, if you will.
Even the best cared-for systems – those that get inspected annually and get septic tank pumping done routinely before problems arise – can fail. A failed septic system can not only be incredibly costly for a homeowner to repair, but it can also cause water and ground pollution, potentially resulting in a local health or safety hazard.
In order to prevent this from happening, it’s important to understand some of the top factors that can cause a septic system to fail and their warning signs.
An Overburdened Plumbing System
The type and size of a septic tank determine how much wastewater the system can handle. Even with regular septic tank pumping, this number doesn’t really change; it is simply the system’s capacity.
When a Chattanooga, TN household creates more wastewater than its septic system can effectively handle, the sewage starts to back up. The surplus liquid has nowhere to go, so the septic tank gets too full and the wastewater eventually reaches the ground surface or backs up into the home through the plumbing drains.
Having leaking or running toilets or sinks, running multiple appliances at once, or doing loads of laundry back-to-back can all put additional stress on a septic system and cause the tank to overflow and backup.
Hosting guests also sometimes causes septic system failure, as the additional people create more wastewater than usual. Even one or two extra guests can create potential problems. While it may be a bit of an uncomfortable conversation, it’s essential to communicate to guests that the home is on a septic system that receives regular pumping and certain things cannot be flushed.
Maintenance (or Lack Thereof) and Septic Tank Pumping
In Chattanooga, TN, it is recommended that homeowners with septic systems visually inspect the septic tank each year. Check the tank’s levels, as well as the drain field for any unusually wet spots, odors, or other signs of sewage near the surface. Alternatively, a professional plumbing can do this.
In addition to an inspection, septic tanks need to be pumped periodically as they fill. Factors such as family size can cause this number to vary a bit, but a safe rule of thumb is that a septic tank pumping will need to be completed every three to five years.
Failing to do the annual inspections can cause minor issues to go unnoticed and become much worse over time, taking a preventable problem to an expensive — and potentially hazardous — disaster.
The Septic System Itself
In some cases, the septic system was poorly-designed or installed from the beginning, or it’s simply getting old. Aside from the obvious things such as installing an inadequately-sized septic tank, a septic system will never function properly if the tank is not installed deep enough into the ground or it is installed immediately after a storm when the ground is already oversaturated.
As tedious as it may sound, this is where the importance of keeping accurate records of the system and its maintenance becomes apparent. Combined with routine inspections and septic tank pumping, good documentation can significantly increase the life of a septic system and prevent failure.
What to Look For
Now that we’ve covered all the things that can cause major problems in a septic system, here are some of the warning signs.
- Strong odors in or outside the home, particularly near any drains.
- Signs of sewage or wastewater surfacing, such as wet areas or unusual vegetation growth in the drain field. This can include a sudden or abundant growth.
- Slow plumbing drains. Often this can be mistaken for a clogged or backed-up drain. However, some telltale signs that it is in fact the septic system are the washing machine overflowing or the bathtub overflowing when the toilet is flushed or the sink drains.
- Gurgling, bubbling, or other unusual sounds in the home’s plumbing pipes.
If you observe any of these things in your home, consider them a major red flag and contact a professional such as Metro Plumbing, Heating, Air & Septic in Chattanooga, TN immediately. Emergency septic tank pumping may need to happen right away, but at the very least the technician will do an inspection and help you determine the next course of action.
It’s important to note that once solid waste has overflowed from the septic tank and made it into the drain field, septic tank pumping will be of no help. Do not wait for disaster to strike before calling a professional.
Avoiding a septic system catastrophe may be easier than you think. We’ve already discussed the importance of routine maintenance, but here is an important recap of some simple things you can do to keep your system running effectively and for a very long time.
- Know your septic system. This may seem obvious, but for homeowners who purchase a property in which the septic tank already existed, locating it is not always straightforward. You may need to find and follow pipes on the property.
- Keep good records. Have a diagram of the septic tank’s location on the property, as well as inspection, pumping, and other maintenance records.
- Be conservative with your water use. The less wastewater produced by your home, the less strain there is on the septic system and the less likely a failure is.
A safe, happy home is one where the septic system is in order, so take good care of yours. In addition to septic tank pumping, Metro Plumbing, Heating, Air & Septic also offers installation and repairs.
Contact us today to schedule your pumping or other preventative maintenance, and keep our number handy for those emergency situations as well!