Troubleshooting Your Septic Tank Problems

July 10, 2023
Tips & Tricks
Troubleshooting Your Septic Tank Problems

Owning a home with a septic tank comes with its own unique set of challenges. These systems, while efficient and environmentally friendly, can sometimes present issues that require a bit of troubleshooting. Understanding these problems and their causes is the first step towards maintaining a healthy septic system.

The information provided in this guide is designed to help you prevent some of the most common septic tank problems. It offers insights into potential causes of these issues and provides practical solutions to prevent them from recurring. From overflow of wastewater to strong odours around the disposal field, we cover a range of problems that homeowners often encounter.

Overflow of Wastewater: This problem is often associated with a strong odour around the tank.

It can be caused by solids from the tank blocking pipes or disposal field drains, damage to the disposal field from plant/tree roots or heavy vehicles, tank overloading, poor drainage due to soil conditions, or foreign objects. To prevent this, ensure your tank is pumped out at least every three years, fit a septic tank outlet filter to prevent solids entering the disposal field, plant only small plants on your disposal field, reduce the amount of water you use in the house, repair or replace broken septic tank lids, ensure your gully trap grate is sealed so solid objects are not able to enter the drain, scrape all dishes into a bin before washing to remove grease and food scraps, keep vehicles and large animals off the disposal field, and don’t allow roof water to discharge into your tank.

Stormwater Ponding on Surface of Disposal Field: This problem is often associated with very little or no odour.

It can be caused by a lack of or an inadequate stormwater drainage system or poor drainage due to soil conditions. To prevent this, divert all stormwater away from the disposal field by digging new drains or redirecting existing drains, plant small, water-tolerant plants on and around the disposal field to absorb water, and use shallow rooted/broad leaf plants around the disposal field.

Strong Odour Coming from Tank or Disposal Field with No Visible Signs of Problems:

This can be caused by bacteria in the tank being killed by the addition of chemicals or other substances, which means your wastewater is not being treated properly, or an increase in the number of people using the household, which overloads the bacteria in the system. To prevent this, use biodegradable products suitable for on-site wastewater systems, minimise the use of chemicals including shampoo and household cleaners, and reduce the amount of water you use in the house.

Wastewater Ponding on Surface of Disposal Field with Strong Odour:

This issue is often associated with a strong odour around the disposal field. It can be caused by overloading of the wastewater system, a disposal field that is too small, a disposal field clogged with solids, scum or unsuitable materials, or poor drainage due to soil conditions. To prevent this, reduce the amount of wastewater created, ensure leaky taps are fixed immediately, make sure the washing machine and dishwasher are full before using, use a front-loading washing machine to minimise water usage, don’t use a waste disposal unit in the kitchen sink, don’t flush materials such as sanitary pads, disposable nappies and rags, install a distribution box to allow parts of the disposal field to be ‘rested’, fit a septic tank outlet filter to prevent solids entering the disposal field, and talk to an expert regarding system improvements.

If you’re experiencing any issues or simply need some expert guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out to the team at Drain Ninjas. With their extensive knowledge and experience, they’re well-equipped to provide the support you need. Give them a call at 0800 475 008 to discuss any problems you’re experiencing and find the best solutions. Remember, a well-maintained septic system is key to a healthy home and environment, and the Drain Ninjas are here to help you achieve just that.

Reference – “Help protect our special places by maintaining your septic tank or high-tech on-site wastewater systems – A homeowner’s guide.”  Auckland Council

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