A septic system is comprised of three main components: namely, piping, a septic tank and a drain field. Read on to find out more about some of the most common causes of septic system issues.
Persistent heavy rainfall can wreak havoc on a drain field and cause problems with the entire septic system. The drain field's primary purpose is to act as a filter for the effluent produced by the septic tank; as this wastewater percolates downwards through the drain field's soil, the harmful viruses and bacteria within it are sifted out before the water reaches a well or other water supply source.
If exposed to heavy rainfall for several days or weeks, a drain field can become oversaturated to the point where the wastewater emerging from the septic tank can no longer be absorbed into its soil. When this happens, contaminated wastewater can end up backing up into the house, and the property's sinks and toilets may start to overflow.
This is why homeowners who have septic systems on their properties should be conscious of the effects that stormy weather conditions may have on their systems and take preventative action to negate these effects. For example, they may need to re-position their gutters to ensure the rainwater that falls onto their roof does not flow towards their drain field. Additionally, they might have to limit their water usage during periods of heavy rain in order to reduce the amount of water entering their septic system; this can be done by taking short showers instead of baths and washing clothes at a local launderette instead of using the washing machine.
If a homeowner's drain field does reach its saturation point, they should avoid using their property's waste system entirely until a septic system specialist has inspected it and performed the necessary repairs.
A lack of periodic tank pumping
A septic tank is designed to separate wastewater into liquids and solids. The latter settle at the bottom of the tank whilst the former flow out into the drain field. Over time, the solids left behind in the tank start to accumulate and need to be removed via a process called pumping. All septic tanks that are in regular use should be pumped once every few years.
Failing to stick to a consistent septic tank pumping schedule can result in a number of issues. For example, the solids may eventually fill the entire tank and cause a backflow of wastewater into the house. This backflow can create foul odours inside the property and make it impossible for household members to carry out any activities that require the use of their wastewater system (such as doing laundry, using the bathroom or washing dishes). A lack of regular septic tank pumping can also result in the aforementioned solids entering the drain field, causing major damage that could drastically shorten the drain field's lifespan and cost thousands of dollars to repair.