Skip to content

Full septic tank symptoms

5 Signs Your Septic Tank Needs to Be Pumped

To avoid malfunctions and emergency service, septic tanks must be pumped on a regular basis.
Most homeowners don’t give their septic system much thought… and who can blame them? However, if this results in neglect, it can become a serious problem. If properly maintained, every septic system is designed to efficiently treat waste for decades. Did you notice the word “if” in the above sentence? If a septic system is well-maintained, it can last for decades! However, if it is ignored, you will soon find yourself in the middle of a nightmare!

An efficient septic system maintenance plan must include several key components. The most basic, and certainly the most crucial, aspect of septic system maintenance is septic tank pumping on a regular basis. Most experts recommend pumping septic tanks every 3 to 5 years, according to most experts. However, it is advisable to evaluate your specific septic system and home water usage before making recommendations for your system.

There are certain tell-tale symptoms that a septic system isn’t being properly maintained and that a problem is brewing. Let’s look at some of the most prevalent warning signals that a septic tank isn’t being pumped frequently enough.

Drains that are sluggish and/or need to be flushed

The efficiency of your drains is one good clue that your septic system is beginning to show indications of strain. When your septic system starts to back up, you’ll notice that your sink, tub, or shower drains slower than usual, and your toilet doesn’t flush as quickly or thoroughly as it should. Don’t overlook this warning sign if you start to detect it in your home. Take action before the situation becomes much worse and more expensive.


As your septic tank fills up, there is less and less room in your tank for the odor-causing gases. These gases can sometimes come from your toilet or drains within your home. Furthermore, these odor-causing gases might escape through your drain field, leaving a sulphurous or sewage odor on the exterior of your home. If you notice unpleasant scents in and around your house, contact a septic service right once to address the issue before it gets any worse.

Green Lawn Surprisingly Lush Over Drainfield

When a septic drain field is working properly, the lawn above it shouldn’t appear any better than the rest of the yard. There is a problem if you can plainly map out your dainfield since the grass is more lush and green than the neighboring areas. This occurs as a result of the grass receiving additional fertilizer in the form of excess waste liquid. If this is occurring in your drainfield, you should have your system evaluated right once to avoid a potentially dangerous situation.

Standing Water

When your septic tank is full, you’ll observe water pooling in numerous locations throughout your yard. The area around the septic tank and/or the drainfield are the most likely areas for this to happen. If water is pooling in these spots, it’s a solid sign that your septic system needs to be pumped and inspected right away. Your septic system is overburdened, which could result in the worst situation of all: sewage backing up into your home.

Back-up of sewage

The most visible indicator of a problem is raw sewage backing up into the home, and it’s something no one wants to experience. If you do not have a regular pumping/inspection schedule for your septic system and disregard the warning signs listed above, you will most likely have to deal with this at some point. If this happens to you, call a septic service right away and stay away from the area. Hopefully, septic tank pumping will remedy the problem, but your complete septic system will need to be inspected to figure out what caused this unpleasant condition.

Following a regular pumping and inspection plan is the best approach to avoid having to deal with any of the above-mentioned unpleasant indicators. A well-maintained septic system can last up to 30 years (sometimes even 40 or 50) and save you a lot of money, effort, and aggravation.

Septic System Failure Symptoms

  • Toilets, drains, and sinks are leaking water and sewage into the house.
  • Bathtubs, showers, and sinks all drain at a snail’s pace.
  • The plumbing system is making gurgling noises.
  • Near the septic tank or drainfield, there may be standing water or moist places.
  • Odors emanating from the septic tank or drainfield.
  • Even in dry weather, bright green, spongy lush grass grows over the sewage tank or drainfield.
  • Blooms of algae in neighboring ponds or lakes.
  • Water wells with high quantities of nitrates or coliform bacteria.

Septic systems, like most other parts of your house, need to be serviced on a regular basis. If properly maintained, the septic system should last for many years. Owners risk severe and costly failures if their septic system isn’t maintained. Septic systems also have a limited lifespan and will need to be updated at some point.

A septic system that has failed or is malfunctioning can endanger human and animal health as well as contaminate the environment. Regardless of the age of the system, a competent septic owner is aware of the indicators of failure and responds swiftly when they are identified. A prompt response could save the owner money on repairs, as well as prevent illness and environmental damage.

When a septic system fails, what happens?

Untreated sewage is released and delivered where it shouldn’t be when a septic system fails. As a result, sewage may rise to the surface of the earth near the tank or drainfield, or back up in the building’s pipes. Without our knowledge, sewage could find its way into groundwater, surface water, or marine water. Pathogens and other harmful substances can be found in sewage. People and animals can become ill as a result of exposure to certain diseases and pollutants. They can also contaminate water sources, making them dangerous to drink, swim in, harvest shellfish from, or utilize for agricultural purposes.

What are some of the most typical reasons a septic system fails?

The pipe between the house and the tank is obstructed. Drains drain very slowly (perhaps slower on lower levels of the building) or stop draining completely when this happens. This is usually a simple issue to resolve. A service provider may usually “snake the line” and unclog it. Flush only human waste and toilet paper down the drain, and have your system inspected once a year to avoid a clogged line. Vehicle or animal traffic can sometimes crush or break this conduit. Plant roots might occasionally obstruct the pipe (particularly on older systems). To repair a crushed or root-damaged pipe, you’ll need to replace (at least) a piece of it.

The tank’s inlet baffle is obstructed. This failure is very similar to when the house-to-tank input pipe becomes obstructed. You can inspect your intake baffle opening for a clog if you have access to it. If you notice toilet paper or other debris, try using a pole to unclog it. Make sure you don’t harm any of the septic system’s components. For this rather simple and low-cost fix, a service professional can also be engaged. Avoid clogging your inlet baffle by flushing only human waste and toilet paper and having your system examined once a year.

The effluent filter or outlet baffle is clogged. Sewage may back up into the house or surface near the septic tank as a result of this. This problem could indicate that the tank is receiving too much water in a short period of time. If an effluent filter is present, it must be cleaned or replaced. If there is no effluent filter, this problem will almost certainly need having the tank drained to locate and remove the clog. Clean your effluent filter (if you have one) and have your system inspected once a year to avoid this problem.

The drainage system has failed. Sewage may backup into the home if the drainfield collapses or becomes saturated with water. You may notice spongy bright green grass growing above or around the drainfield, as well as wet, soggy places. There could also be scents in the vicinity of the tank or drainfield. This could be the last time this part of your septic system works. It’s possible that the system was set up incorrectly, allowing too much solid material to enter the drainfield, leading it to fail prematurely. Or perhaps the system has just reached its capability to accept waste after many years of service. However, if the drainfield has been saturated by too much water (due to high amounts of water pouring down the drain or flood water on the drainfield), the drainfield may be dried out and restored. To analyze the situation, contact a service specialist. If the drainfield has failed, if it is possible, a connection to the public sewer system should be considered. A new drainfield will have to be installed if this does not happen.

What can I do to avoid a setback?

Your septic system will have a long and trouble-free life with appropriate maintenance and operation. The rest is up to you if your septic system has been correctly designed, sited, and installed. Annually inspect your system and pump as needed (usually every 3-5 years). Avoid wasting water and be careful what you flush down the toilet and down the drain. Learn more about septic system maintenance.

Is it possible for my failing septic system to poison the water?

Yes, a failed septic system can pollute well water and nearby bodies of water. Untreated wastewater is a health problem that can lead to a variety of ailments in humans. You and your neighbors’ wells could be affected if this untreated effluent enters the groundwater. Shellfish beds and recreational swimming sites may be affected if sewage enters local streams or waterbodies.

Check out our article