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Keeping Your Septic System Healthy

When I purchased a home on the outskirts of town, I was pretty nervous about using a septic system. I imagined muddy, sewage-filled landscaping and toilets that wouldn't flush. However, after I did a little research, I realized that septic care is easy if you stay on top of it. The purpose of my blog is to help others to understand the intricacies of caring for their septic systems, so that you can tackle problems early. With a little attention and maintenance, your septic tank can plug along problem free for many years to come. Save this blog as a resource so that you aren't left guessing later.

Keeping Your Septic System Healthy

Three Reasons Your Septic Tank Is Filling Up Too Quickly

by Cathy Lewis

If you own a septic tank, you know that having your tank pumped regularly is a normal part of the process. However, if your tank seems to be filling so quickly that you need to empty it as frequently as every few weeks or months, this could indicate a problem with one of your plumbing components. Here are three reasons your tank might be filling so quickly.

Damaged or Non-functioning Drain Field

The biggest reason your tank only needs to be pumped every few years despite the amount of liquid it takes in is its drain field. While heavy waste sinks to the bottom, liquids remain on top, and excess liquids drain out into a series of horizontal pipes called a drain field or leach field. This water is then absorbed harmlessly into the soil, leaving room in your tank for more solid waste.

If this drain field isn't working correctly, either because it's damaged or clogged, then excess liquid won't drain as it's supposed to, and will have nowhere to go but the tank itself. Considering the average American uses 80-100 gallons of water a day, your tank will fill up very quickly.

Drain fields can be damaged by things like roots or if you drive heavy vehicles over the drain field area. It can also happen if you don't have your septic tank pumped enough. When it's left too long, solid waste can seep into the drain field, causing damage that may result in the drain field needing to be replaced.

Tank Being Flooded

Another possibility is that, even if your drain field is working fine, your tank is simply being flooded by too much liquid to drain as it should. This is unlikely to happen with normal use, so it could instead indicate some damage to the tank or a drain nearby that's causing it to suddenly take in more liquid. If your tank is damaged, water could be seeping into it from more places than just your drain, like the surrounding soil itself.

This problem can be hard to diagnose unless the problem is very obvious to start, but you can check on more easily accessibly parts of the tank, such as the lid, to see if it's in good shape or if there are any visible leaks. Either way, a septic tank pumping service should be able to help diagnose this problem for you.

Constant Wet Weather or Soil

If everything in your septic system is working properly, it's still possible for your tank to fill up quickly if the soil around your drain field is constantly damp. This can happen if you're having constant wet weather or if the soil is damp for another reason like sprinklers or other irrigation systems being used nearby, or even an unrelated plumbing leak. When the soil is damp, liquid inside the drain field can't be absorbed, so it backs up into your tank.

If this is due primarily to weather, there isn't much you can do except try to curb your water use. However, it's worth investigating to see if the problem might be fixable.

Another problem could arise in wet weather if you have any gutters that are directed into your tank or near your drain field. This can flood your tank, but only because noticeable during rainy seasons.