For many homeowners, septic system maintenance falls to the wayside because of the infrequent nature of septic pumpouts. The EPA recommends that septic systems be pumped out every 3 to 5 years. If you’re having trouble recalling when your last septic service was, you should watch out for these warning signs that you need emergency septic service:

Sewage backup.
There’s nothing worse than the smell of sewage rising through your pipes and into your showers, sinks and toilets. While this is an advanced sign that your septic system needs service, it’s usually preceded by foul odors in your drains or bubbling in your toilet. Sewage has a very foul odor and will typically be black in color. Call your septic professional immediately if your septic system is backing up.

Your alarm is going off.
A septic system alarm can mean a few different things:

  • Your system is experiencing high water due to increased water use in your home and is having trouble getting the water out or processing the waste.
  • You could have a leak and your tank may be taking on ground water.

It’s important that you cease water use immediately, since a backup is usually the next step. You’ll want to call your septic professional (many of them have after-hours emergency septic service) and get to the panel to troubleshoot. If needed, they’ll dispatch someone immediately to come service your system before a backup occurs.

Nitrate concentration in your water.
If you use well water, you’ll want to have your water tested on a regular basis. High levels of nitrates can result from overly full systems leaching into the soil and groundwater. Keeping your septic tank maintained regularly and sealing any leaks will keep your well water clean and free of high levels of nitrates.

Drainfield Pooling
Pooling water near your drainfield is often an indication that that the tank is full. Wastewater should always remain in the tank or be processed through the drainfield slowly. When drainfields are clogged by waste because of poor maintenance, wastewater can collect and rise into your lawn.

It’s important that you’re as proactive as possible to avoid these types of issues happening. If you notice any of these symptoms happening, you’ll want to be sure that you contact your septic professional as soon as possible to avoid system or drainfield damage. Well maintained septic systems can last a lifetime, but a poorly maintained system can require costly drainfield repairs and premature replacement.

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