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Signs You Need to Replace Your Septic System

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Black water damage may occur if there is sewer backup. Ultimately, the costs can quickly soar if you find yourself in a position where you need to repair the damages. If you’re a homeowner, then you might be worried about something like this occurring if you have a septic system. How do you know if it’s time to replace your septic system before it’s too late?

Review the signs you need to look out for so you can replace your septic system before any issues occur that cause damage. Finding the repair you need and knowing what signs to look out for can save you if it’s time to find a replacement.

The Basics of a Septic System

To understand the signs of you needing to replace your septic system, it’s important to first understand how one works. This is an underground system that processes wastewater and sewage that comes from your home.

The septic system, unlike other systems that process wastewater and sewage, isn’t connected to an exterior, main sewage system.

Predominantly, you find septic systems in rural locations or areas where homes are older. The main purpose of your septic system is to enable you to dispose of wastewater safely and have safe sewage digestion.

Septic systems function with the use of outlet and inlet pipes, combined with a soakaway and tank that has multiple chambers.

The majority of septic system tanks have two chambers in them. However, there are some that have three.

How It Works

A simple explanation of how septic systems work is that a series of steps occur. First, organic waste matter is drained or flushed through basins, sinks, showers, baths, and toilets of the home, after which it goes into the underground septic tank.

Once it enters the septic tank, it separates into three parts. The first of these is solids.

  1. The solids settle, in a sludgelike mass, at the septic tank’s bottom. These solids include both inorganic and digestible organic solids.
  2. The second type of wastewater and sewage that collects is effluent. This is mostly water and contains digestible organic waste. It will fill the majority of your septic tank. Effluent is where microbes are most active. It sits in the middle area of your septic tank.
  3. Finally, there’s scum. Scum sits on the surface after it floats to the highest part of the wastewater and sewage. Scum is mostly composed of fats, oils, and greases (FOG)

The pipes in the system have different functions. The inlet pipes make it possible for the wastewater to go safely from your property and into the septic tank.

As for the outlet pipes, these make it possible for the water, after it’s been treated, to flow from the septic tank into the soakaway or drain field.

Seven Signs of a Failing Septic System

1. Bad Odor

If you’re wondering when to replace your septic system, one sign to look out for is bad odor. Often, you’ll notice this problem even before you see any visible signs of your septic system having issues.

Do you notice a sewage-like smell coming from inside your house? Is this occurring near where your home’s drains are? Or maybe you can smell the stink coming from the area where the septic system is outside.

This bad odor can be a sign of two things. One is that a drain is blocked. Another is that your septic system’s tank is having issues.

Either way, you need a professional to take a look. This way, they can fix the problem before it becomes a bigger issue.

2. Pools and Puddles in Your Yard

Another sign that you might need a septic system replacement is the appearance of pools and puddles in your yard. This demonstrates that your septic system might not be properly disposing of wastewater.

Instead of the water exiting through where it should, it ends up being disposed into your yard.

Sometimes, this means that you need to repair your septic system immediately. Other times, this might need that you have to upgrade or replace it completely.

To find out how bad the issue is, it’s a good idea to bring in a professional to take a look at the problem. In addition to dealing with the issue, this will be better for your safety.

3. Contaminated Well Water

When you have a septic system failure, the sewage will seep into your yard. While it fertilizes the plant life and grass, it will also find its way into the groundwater, causing contamination.

Your water could end up with various worrying contaminants. These include bacteria (even dangerous ones like E. coli), nitrite, and high nitrates.

If you’re worried that your septic system might be causing your well water to be contaminated, the best thing to do is to carry out a test on your septic system.

This way, you can find whether it’s causing the contamination.

4. Backed-up Pipes or Slow Drains

Have you noticed that your pipes seem to be backing up frequently? This can be a serious sign of your home’s septic system starting to break down. If the system is completely failing, raw sewage could begin backing up into your toilet.

Some signs to look out for that demonstrate that you might have backed-up pipes include bad odors within your home and gurgling from the pipes. Also, look out for decreased flushing or improper draining.

To deal with the problem of sewage backing up into your home through pipes when your septic system isn’t working properly, have a professional come in to take a look.

They can complete an inspection of your septic system and let you know if you need a repair or a completely new septic system.

5. More People or Drain Fixtures in Your Home

While these aren’t signs of a septic system having problems, it’s certainly a reason to start thinking about septic system replacement costs. You might need to upgrade yours to accommodate these changes.

When you have more people living in your home, they are going to use up more water for showers and other everyday activities they do at home. Eventually, this could lead to faster wear and tear of your septic system.

To avoid this problem, you should consider getting your system replaced before these people move in.

The same goes in a situation where you’re adding more drain fixtures in your home. If there are more drain fixtures, more water will be going through the pipes, tank, and the rest of the system.

Avoid any potential problems by upgrading your septic system before you put these fixtures in or begin to use them.

6. More Frequent Tank Pumping

Have you noticed that, recently, you’ve had to pump your tank more frequently? This issue—and, really, any problem that occurs with the tank—is a sign that your septic system’s tank is not working properly.

For example, if it’s overflowing often, it could be a sign that the tank might not be correctly disposing of wastewater.

Another issue that could occur is that the tank has a high solids level. If this occurs, it could mean that the tank isn’t correctly breaking down the solids.

If any of these problems are occurring frequently, then it’s likely time for you to replace your septic system.

7. Current System Is Old

Another sign that you need to replace or repair your septic system is that it is old. Especially if it came with your home when you bought it, you should update your septic system so it’s working properly.

The fact is, over the years, you’ll need to upgrade or update your septic system.

Because it experiences degradation over time, you could end up with a serious problem that causes damage to your property or contaminates your groundwater. Avoid this problem by replacing your current septic system.

Need to Replace Your Septic System?

Now that you’ve learned about the signs that tell you it is time to replace your septic system, you might have decided that it’s time to replace it. However, you might not be sure which company to hire to do the job.

In this case, you should go with Alpha Environmental. We’re experts when it comes to septic systems, and we’re the leading environmental services company in Portland.

To learn more about how we can replace your septic system, contact us now.

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David D.
Lake Oswego, OR
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My wife and I experienced a hot water pipe busting in the crawlspace. It has been a total nightmare. However, Chris and his team provided expert quality care, with timeliness and the greatest degree of professionalism. I would HIGHLY recommend Alpha Enviornmental!
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Beaverton, OR
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