Part of a septic tank's regular maintenance involves draining the tank to prevent it from overflowing. How often you have to do this varies by the size of your tank, how many people live in your household and how heavy your water and waste output is. If everything is working properly, your tank should work without a hitch until the next time it needs to be emptied. If your tank seems like it's constantly full, however, you may have a problem somewhere else.
Your Tank Isn't Actually Full
If you've just had it emptied, it's highly unlikely that your tank is already full of water and waste. The problem is that everything you send down the drains isn't getting to the tank properly or that the tank can't drain excess fluids.
What Can Clog Your Pipes
If there's a clog in the outflow pipe, it will cause water to back up into your house whenever you use water, which looks identical to what happens when your tank is full. Water going down the drain has nowhere to go, so it will wash back up in your bathtubs and your toilets will bubble.
In many cases, outflow pipe clogs are caused by someone putting something down the drain they shouldn't have. For example:
- Paper towels: While toilet paper is designed to break apart, paper towels are much sturdier and won't disintegrate.
- Cooking grease: Cooking greases and oils are liquids, but they end up solidifying in your pipes. Over time this oil and grease can build up, and it will take a plumber to clear out the residue.
- Other items that won't dissolve, like many feminine hygiene products.
Where You Can Find A Clog
If you have a clog in your outflow pipe, the most common place you'll find it is in the vertical pipe near your septic tank. It will have a cap covering it placed low to the ground. Take a flashlight and look down to see if you can see standing water or evidence of a clog; if you see either, you've found your problem. If you still can't find the clog, contact a professional, like those at McDermott Septic Tank Pumping.
Heavy Rain Can "Flood" Your Septic Tank
Your septic tank isn't a completely watertight container. To help prevent it from filling too quickly, excess water and liquids drain out through the leach field, a system of pipes that branch out under the ground away from your tank. Liquid flows into these lines and disperse into the soil.
Too much rain can drench the soil and the lines and prevent water from escaping the tank. The good news is that your tank is only full of excess liquid, which is easy to drain when your leach lines work. The bad news is you may need to wait for the rain to let up and conserve water in the meantime.
This is also a good opportunity to check your leach field to make sure it's working correctly. It could just as likely be the case that the leach lines aren't working and will need to be replaced. If you have a lot of plants growing over your leach field, some of the roots could have worked their way down to block the lines.
If your septic system has a pump, make sure it's up and running. If you've had a power outage recently, you may need to reset the circuit for the pump. It's also possible that the pump itself is damaged or just not working correctly, in which case you will need to have it repaired or replaced, preferably by a professional.