How to know if your septic
system is failing
These symptoms tell you that you have a problem:
- Sewage backup in your sink and tub drains or toilets. This is often a black liquid with a disagreeable odor.
- Slow flushing of your toilets. Many of the drains in your house will drain much slower than usual, despite the use of plungers or drain cleaning products.
- Surface flow of wastewater. Sometimes you will notice liquid seeping along the surface of the ground near your septic system.
- Lush green grass over the absorption field, even during dry weather. Often, this indicates that an excessive amount of liquid from your system is moving up through the soil, instead of downward, as it should. While some upward movement of liquid from the drain field is good, too much could indicate problems.
- The presence of nitrates or bacteria in your drinking water well. This indicates that liquid from the system may be flowing into the well through the ground or over the surface. Water tests available from your local health department will indicate if you have this problem.
- Unpleasant odors around your house. Often, an improperly vented plumbing system or a failing septic system causes a buildup of disagreeable odors around the house.
Occasionally a system suffers an upset, when the septic tank bacteria are harmed or destroyed. This can happen if the home is vacant for a long period and the tank receives no fresh wastewater, or if strong cleaning agents are flushed down the drain. After a few days of normal use, the biological system in the tank should re-establish itself. In this situation the biological additives may help speed the recovery of the septic tank.
Every septic tank needs to be pumped periodically, because all wastewater contains inert matter that cannot be degraded in the tank. No additive can do away with this need.
Could an additive harm my system?
The biological additives are unlikely to be harmful. The chemical additives could definitely harm your system. These products have the potential to sterilize your system temporarily. The resulting passage of raw sewage into the drain field will accelerate its failure. The acid and alkali products can corrode the plumbing and the tank. The organic solvents pass through the system unchanged. They can then infiltrate into the groundwater, creating a chemical plume that endangers nearby wells.
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