A septic system is an underground structure for treating wastewater. They are most commonly found in rural areas that don't have access to centralized sewers. The system consists of the septic tank and an absorption field or a drain field. The septic tank receives the material flushed into it and separates all the floating matter and organic materials away from the wastewater. The wastewater then travels to the absorption field or drain field, which is made out of unsaturated soil. When there is a problem with the septic tank, it can cause quite the mess. This is a guide to troubleshooting your septic system and when you need to call a professional.
Signs of a Faulty Septic System
When your septic system needs to be repaired, it may show telltale signs of an issue. Here is a list of common problems a system will have when it becomes faulty.
Drain field has a strong odor around it
Pooling water around the septic tank
Muddy soil by septic tank
Wastewater backing up in household drains, like the sink or bathtub
Bright green spongy grass on the drain field or absorption field
If you have any of these things happening, it's time to troubleshoot the issue and find out what needs to be repaired.
Drain Field Issues
When there is soggy ground around the drain field, it may be a sign that the tank wasn't pumped often enough. The septic tank is probably full of scum that builds up over time, which causes the tank to flood and the drain field to turn into a soggy mess. Once it's gotten this far, you will need to replace the drain field since the original has been ruined. Keep away from the original drain field until all the bacteria has decomposed. It can be extremely harmful to kids and pets, so rope the section off until the drain field has decomposed completely.
Wastewater Backing Up
There's nothing more disgusting than finding wastewater in your sink or bathtub. This usually happens when the drain field is overloaded with too much liquid, but it can also be the sign of a faulty septic tank. Check the water level of the septic tank by lifting the lid off of the tank. If the water is below the outlet, this is a sign there is a clogged or broken pipe somewhere between the tank and the house. Should the water be higher than the outlet, the issue is with the tank itself. You can have a septic tank pumping company come out and pump the tank for you to see if it resolves the issue. You may need to replace the entire system.
Before you call around for someone to replace your system, check with your city's health department regarding the procedure. Some cities may have a financing plan you can use for the repair if you are qualified. You can also apply for the Rural Community Assistance Program (RCAP), a program that provides assistance for water systems in rural communities.
Visit sites like http://www.24hremergencysepticservice.com to get a better idea of what septic services you may need.