6 Common Septic Tank Problems and Recommended Fixes
In the United States, over 21 million homes rely on septic tanks for their waste management.
Washington State is amongst the states with the most septic tanks in use. If you live in Ranier, Olympia, or smaller towns like Centralia, you need to know about common septic tank problems.
Septic tanks do an excellent job of dealing with waste, but they are far from perfect systems. Outside influences, design flaws, and lack of maintenance can all lead to disaster. Here are six of the most common problems with septic tanks that you need to know about.
1. Ground Movement
The ground is not solid, it moves all the time. In Washington State, there are 5 active volcanoes and several active fault lines. These areas are hotbeds of geological activity and can cause the ground to shift.
Even in counties that don’t have volcanoes, like Thurston and Lewis, the effects can be damaging. The ground is less stable in these areas, prone to moving up or down. Earthquakes also have far-reaching impacts.
When taken together, the movement of the earth can cause cracks to form in a septic tank. If your tank needs emptying more often, there could be groundwater getting into it from the cracks. Often when this type of damage occurs the only solution is to get a new tank installed.
2. Collapsed Baffle
Septic tanks are large tanks, and inside of them are barriers known as baffles. The baffles keep solid waste from draining into the soakaway system. If these baffles collapse, nothing will stop solids from moving down the lines, which can cause clogs and blockages.
If your tank has a collapsed baffle you may not realize it until the wastewater begins to back up into your home. This will mean that raw sewage will invade through the toilets and drains back into the home. The only way to prevent this from happening is to have the tank inspected.
A septic tank should get inspected at least once a year. A comprehensive inspection will also check to make sure that the baffles are still intact and working. Having this type of preventative maintenance done is a great way to avoid a smelly, disgusting problem.
3. Root Damage
If you live in Chehalis, or anywhere in western Washington, trees are everywhere. They are beautiful signatures of the verdant deciduous rain forests of Washington. For those with septic tanks, a tree being too close to your unit can be a big problem.
As trees age, their root systems spread out deep underground. This means that even if a tree is not close to your septic tank, it could still damage it. These roots can break pipes, shift the ground around them to cause cracks, or pinch them in half on their own.
If this happens to your tank there are few things to do other than get the pipes replaced. If the tank is compromised, you may need to get an entire new system put in. Regular inspection can catch the problem, but if not you may begin to notice bad odors and soft, squishy ground around your tank.
Water trapped under the surface of the ground can create bog-like conditions. This is one of the classic signs of septic tank problems. If the problem is bad enough, you will even feel the ground shifting under your weight.
4. Improper Installation
It is true that not all septic tanks are installed the right way. When this happens, there can be problems that manifest as the tank ages. Another big concern is that the tank is not compliant with environmental or local codes which could lead to a fine.
To discover the condition and quality of your system, make sure to have a septic tank service company check the septic system and draining field. They will be able to offer you recommendations and solutions to deal with the problem.
This is a common problem if you have an older system or just moved into an area with older homes. If you live in a rural area it can also happen as some systems are installed by the property owners and not contractors.
5. Weight and Pressure
Septic tanks are sturdy and buried in the ground for further protection. Even with these precautions, you should be careful not to let vehicles rest on top of the septic tank. As time passes the weight of vehicles can cause the ground to settle, pushing down against the septic tank and lines.
This can cause cracks in the tank, breaks in the lines, and damage to the entire system. The best way to prevent common septic tank problems like this is to avoid putting anything heavy or parking over the top of your septic tank or drain lines. This can mean cars, trailers, or even equipment.
6. Lack of Regular Maintenance
If you’ve moved into a home with a septic tank, you need to know if it has received adequate care. A septic tank cleaning service can help make sure that your tank has received proper maintenance. If it hasn’t, larger problems can begin to surface that may mean total replacement.
Make sure to have septic pumping services clean out the tank at least once a year. Keeping up with this, inspections and treatments will prolong the life of your septic tank. It can also spare you from expensive repair bills that you aren’t anticipating.
Common Septic Tank Problems
Septic tanks are great at accomplishing their job as long as they are properly installed and taken care of. If you live in Thurston or Lewis Counties in the state of Washington, Goebel Septic Service can offer you the inspections, maintenance, and replacement work that you may need done.
We’ve been serving our communities like Rainier, Mossyrock, and Shelton since 1979. We’ve seen all common septic tank problems, and a lot more that aren’t so common.
Contact us if you need someone you can trust to get the job done and give you the straight answers that you’re looking for.