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Feb 17

Is My Septic Tank Backing Up: 5 Warning Signs

Are you wondering if your septic tank is backing up? We’ve seen it all! There are several factors that can influence whether or not your septic tank is experiencing a backup.

Here are five signs to look for when diagnosing if your septic tank is backing up.

1.   Someone flushed something down the drain (that they shouldn’t have.)

Sometimes common knowledge goes out the window (or down the drain, we should say.) Many people know that they shouldn’t put anything down the drain (other than water, natural waste and toilet paper) however, this is one of the most common reasons septic tanks back up. It is common for plumbers to find a buildup of hair, items like feminine products, q-tips, “flushable” wipes, and more. Here is a list of things to never flush down the drain.

2.   What’s that smell…? And that sound?

The first and most obvious sign of backup is the odor. If there’s a strange, persistent odor wafting from your drains or toilet, this could be the first sign of backup. This usually happens when your septic tank overflows, followed by the effluent passing to the drain field, which in turn clogs up your pipes. If you hear a gurgling sound coming from your pipes, it’s also a sign your septic tank is having issues.

3.   Slow draining toilets and drains.

Another sign of septic tank overflow is if everything is running more slowly than usual. Like we mentioned –  if the tank overflows, the pipes are clogged. Any matter flushed down the toilet moves more slowly. Another tell-tale sign of backup.

4.   Wet spots in your lawn or near your property.

If there are some wet areas nearby, this could be a sign that your septic tank has backed up. Other signs may include an area that is sunken-in, the earth feeling spongy or soaked in certain areas, even discolored grass and dead plants.

5.   You can’t remember the last time you had your septic system inspected.

The key to keeping your septic tank overflow up is keeping it maintained. If your system has been installed properly, the rest is in your hands. A good rule of thumb is to get your septic system inspected once a year. Also, professionals usually recommend you pump your septic tank quarterly. If you haven’t had your tank inspected or pumped in the last year, this also makes a septic tank backup a possibility.

If you’ve checked off a few of these items from your mental list, you may need help from a professional. Luckily, you’re in the right place. Give us a call or send us an email and we will stop by to inspect the situation.


Sources, for your reference:

Maintenance frequency recommendations:

Smell/clogging information:

Wet spots:

Contact Us to Schedule an Appointment

Matthew Micheletty

About The Author

Matthew has been Alpha's Director of Operations for over four years. He works directly with our clients in effort to provide exceptional customer service as well as managing the day to day of the company. When he's not at the office, you can find him at Red Tail Golf Club or cruising PDX in one of his project cars.