8 Clear Signs Of A Septic System Failure

In this guide, we’ll discuss the common signs of septic system failure.

Whether you know it or not, your septic system plays a vital role. The importance of such a role only becomes evident when problems surface.

Then, what you’ve taken for granted becomes unusable and you begin looking for ways to have it fixed.

Common Signs Of Septic System Failure

The most appropriate response for a failing septic system is early detection.

Unfortunately, not a lot of homeowners pay close attention to what happens to their septic system. This is understandable due to the widely-spaced maintenance periods.

For instance, a septic tank will require inspection and pumping once every 3 to 5 years. This is quite a long time that results in people not giving it the attention it deserves in-between.

Here, we aim to discuss septic system failure symptoms.

With this knowledge, you’re able to detect early, and anticipate major faults before they occur. This way, you end up achieving better handling of the situation.

Septic System Failure Signs to Look Out For

Before a septic system is determined to have issues, you’ll need to be on the lookout for certain signs. Such signs point to the fact that the system isn’t functioning as it should.

In other words, there’s an abnormality in the way it functions.

Some of the most common signs include algal blooms in nearby ponds or lakes, slow draining of sinks, bathtubs & showers as well as foul odor around drain field or septic tank area.

Other signs include lush green grass around the septic tank or drain field that seems odd.

You’re likely to also find standing water or damp spots around your septic tank area and high nitrate & coliform bacteria in wells.

Are you hearing some gurgling sounds in the plumbing system? That is a sure sign of septic system failure.

Last but not the least is backing up of sewage and water in toilets and drains.  All these signs point to a possible septic system failure. You may notice one or more of these signs.

The most appropriate response to take should be to find the problem and have it fixed immediately!

  • Algal Blooms in Nearby Ponds or Lakes

Small water bodies around your homes such as ponds could be at risk of pollution from a failing septic system. Algae found in such water bodies are known to thrive in nitrogen-rich environments.

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However, with added nitrogen and phosphorus comes to increased food for such algae. This results in rapid bloom as algal growth rises significantly.

If you’ve observed an unusual rise in algal growth, you might want to pay close attention to your septic system.

  • Slow Draining of Sinks, Bathtubs & Showers

One of the most common observable signs of septic system failure is seen in slow drains. Such is observed with sinks bathtubs and showers. You’d notice that water doesn’t drain away as fast as it used to.

If this is detected, consider seeking urgent professional help.

Further probe of the system would reveal where the real problem lies. It may be due to a malfunctioning component or multiple parts. Allowing it to persist only worsens the situation.

  • Foul Odor Around Drain Field or Septic Tank Area

The foul odor generated from the breakdown of waste is usually channeled out through a tank vent that rises upward.

However, when such a foul odor is sustained, it becomes an issue. Detect where this odor is coming from. In the case of septic system failure, it’s likely to come from the drain field or septic tank areas.

  • Lush Green Grass Around Septic Tank or Drain Field

Another evidence of septic system failure is seen in the appearance of lush-green grass around your septic tank or drain field. This sign of septic system failure is even more convincing during dry weather.

Its appearance is odd and points to leakage of your septic tank.

The longer it’s left unattended, the worse it becomes. You may end up with greater septic system issues than the initial leakages. A further probe should confirm your fears of a possible problem with your system.

  • Standing Water or Damp Spots Around Septic Tank

As a vital component of the system, a septic tank is mostly lowered into a prepared or dug space. Now, when the backfill used in covering up the tank is loose, it ends up compacting or setting in the presence of moisture.

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Constant availability of moisture results in the settling of the soil. This ends up creating depressions around your tank.

Whenever you put on your sprinkler or when surface runoff water from rain or other sources is present, it fills up such depressions. This results in standing water.

The problem may be much worse as pipes connecting to, or from the tank may be leaking. Whatever the case is, you need to report any abnormality to your septic technician.

  • High Nitrate & Coliform Bacteria in Wells

When a septic system is compromised, its contents may leak out to groundwater. This poses a serious health risk as you’re likely to be exposed to harmful bacteria.

You should frequently test for high nitrate & coliform content in nearby water sources such as wells.

An unusually high content points to potential problems with your septic system. Such problems should be traced and addressed as fast as possible.

  • Gurgling Sounds in the Plumbing System

Gurgling sounds in your plumbing system are among the first signs of a possible septic system failure. You don’t have to wait for things to get worse.

Call for an inspection and possible repairs before it goes out of hand.

  • Backing Up of Sewage and Water

Sewage and water backup are common when the septic tank has issues. Such issues include clogging and a filled septic tank. In the case of a full tank, urgent pumping is necessary.

Clogging issues are also addressed with faulty components such as baffles replaced.

Calling the Experts After Detecting Failure Signs

Whatever the issue is, you’ll need to call in the experts to ascertain the real issue and have it fixed as fast as possible. Any, or all of the above signs are reason enough to seek help and you shouldn’t hesitate.

Are you experiencing any of these signs of septic system failure? Now you know what they mean and what to do. The faster you act, the better!

1 thought on “8 Clear Signs Of A Septic System Failure”

  1. Thanks for explaining how a failing septic system could affect your home’s plumbing. I plan to purchase a house in the future where I can travel to the office with ease. I’ll keep your suggestion in mind and consult a plumber when these signs happen.


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