Have you recently moved from a house with a city sewer hookup to one that has a septic tank? Do you know how to tell if something has gone wrong with your septic system? For the most part, a septic tank system is extremely low maintenance. So long as you avoid putting things like so-called flushable wipes, condoms, or tampons in the toilet, your septic system should continue to function well for a long time to come. But no matter how careful you are, all septic tanks will eventually need to have the more solid waste pumped out and taken away. Since your septic tank is buried underground, here are some signs to look for that indicate that your septic tank is getting too full.
Greener grass: A septic system processes waste by allowing the sewage solids to collect in the bottom of the tank while the liquid passes through and out to a specially constructed drainage field. This liquid waste is full of nutrients that plants love, so the lawn directly above the drainage field may always be slightly greener and faster growing than the rest of the lawn. However, if you notice that the area is even greener than usual, perhaps accompanied by a strong odor of sewage, this is an indication that the septic tank is allowing solid waste to escape. A septic pumping will remove this solid waste, helping to prevent damage to the drainage field.
Slow-running toilets: When connected to a sewer system, a slow-running toilet is often an indication of a problem with the toilet itself. With a septic system, a slow-running toilet can be a major indicator that you're due for a septic pumping. With a septic system, gravity and water pressure push and pull sewage along until it is deposited in the septic tank. As the septic tank fills up with sewage solids, the water pressure and gravity needed to push the solids along increases until your toilets start to flush slowly. Having your tank cleaned out will restore your system to its normal function.
Time: It's a good idea to have a septic pumping company come out to clean out and inspect your system every couple of years, whether or not the tank is full. For example, if the system is attached to a summer cabin that only gets used for a couple months out of the year, it could take years for the septic tank to actually fill up. But during those years, it's possible that your septic tank could develop a leak that could cause issues if not remedied soon. An inspection of your tank will let you know if there are any potential problems, allowing you to fix them before they become expensive issues.