Almost every homeowner has experienced it, but there’s nothing like the dread that occurs when your toilet won’t quite flush all the way. Is your septic system backing up, and how should you handle the problem? Here’s what to do if your septic system backs up.
Signs that Your Septic Tank is Backing Up
First, let’s look at a few signs that your septic tank is functioning slowly. At the very least, you should inspect your pipes and tank if you notice any of the following issues.
- Slow Drains
- Foul Odor
- High Water in Toilet
- “Backwash” from Drains
- Pooling Water
- Sewage in Bottom Floor Tubs
Now, it is important to note that if only one drain is slow or clogged, you likely have an isolated plumbing problem on your hands. In this case, you can either treat the problem yourself (if minor enough) or call a serviceman to repair the pipe or drain in question.
On the other hand, if your tubs, sinks, toilets, etc. are all backing up at once, it’s a good sign that your entire system is backed up and to blame.
How to Handle a Backed Up Septic System
Whether it’s an isolated place that backs up or a system-wide problem, it is important to follow the correct procedure. Additionally, make sure you attend to the problem as soon as you notice it. Leaving a blockage unchecked only allows it to grow over time.
Turn off your water.
The first thing you should do is stop running your water. It is rare that the slow flow of water is enough to dislodge blockages. Instead, it is likely to make the problem worse. Wait to run your water until the root issue is located and removed.
Look for the source of the problem.
It might seem backward, but just because one tub is backing up doesn’t mean the problem starts there. Particularly in multi-level houses, upstairs drainage problems can result in bottom floor plumbing problems. When attempting to find the problem, start with the drain that appears to be the worst, but don’t be surprised if the problem goes a little deeper than that.
Snake your drains.
If only one drain seems to be clogged, use a small ribbed snake to check for hair or debris in the pipe. Of course, this tool only reaches a few feet down, so if the blockage is deeper than that, a professional snake becomes necessary.
Look for clogs in U-shaped pipes.
Another thing you can do is check the U-shaped PVC pipe underneath your kitchen and bathroom sinks. After turning the water off, loosen the pipe and check for grease, food, or dirt that may have gotten trapped by gravity in the “U” part of the pipe.
Do not put chemical cleaners down drains.
Avoid flushing out debris with non-septic-safe cleaners. Harsh chemicals do more harm than good, so clear any drain cleaners with your trusted septic professional.
Call a septic system professional.
For anything more than a surface-level problem, we recommend calling a licensed professional. The last thing you want to do when it comes to your septic system, is make the problem worse and more expensive to repair.
Tips for Preventing a Clogged System
The best way to avoid fixing a backed-up septic system is to properly care for it. Typically, a clogged tank or pipe is the result of foreign objects being sent through. Apply the following tips to avoid a backed-up septic system.
- Only flush toilet paper and waste.
- Never wash fat or grease down the sink.
- Use ONLY septic-approved cleaners.
- Do not plant trees or deep-rooted plants near your pipes or drain field.
- Schedule routine septic system inspections.
How Can Norway Septic Help?
Norway Septic Inc. is a service-oriented company dedicated to providing excellent septic tank cleaning and septic tank pumping services to homeowners and business owners in the Michiana area. We take pride in doing the job that others leave behind. If you need a new effluent filter or if you would like to schedule a septic tank cleaning by one of our professionals, call us today.