Little can go wrong with the septic tank itself. Tanks sometimes suffer structural damage and/or deteriorate, but problems occur most often in the plumbing or in the leaching system.

If your plumbing backs up suddenly under normal use in dry weather, temporary blockage is the most probable cause. Blockages in the pipe between the home and septic tank can usually be cleared with plumbing equipment. Some pipe blockages caused by tree roots entering the drainpipes develop over a period of time. A professional may be able to clear these blockages.

More serious difficulties occur when the soil surrounding the leaching system becomes clogged. When sludge and scum is not removed periodically (every three years for dwellings and every year for commercial establishments) from the tank, they accumulate until they are transported out into the absorption field. The carry-over of solids from the septic tank is the most common cause of leaching system failure. When no maintenance is performed, the perforated distribution drain pipe or the pores in the earth walls of the soil absorption system become clogged.

You can suspect a malfunctioning absorption field if:

1. There are odors, persistent wet spots and/or lush green growth in any areas of your system.

2. Your waste plumbing becomes sluggish over a period of time.

3. Your system backs up into a shower or tub.

4. Problems persist even though the septic tank has been pumped/cleaned recently.


How a Septic Tank Works
The Typical Septic Tank
Leaching Systems
Maintenance Suggestions
Things are backing up.  What next?
How to Locate your Septic Tank
What can go wrong?
Pumping your Septic Tank
Septic Tank and Cesspool Sizes

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