How to check your septic tank levels

Remember to keep an eye out on your septic tank level because if it overflows then it could lead to severe problems. When septic tanks operate properly bacteria cause organic materials from both the sludge and scum layers to be broken down into smaller-sized substances. To ensure the scum layer continues to be broken down you need to know when your tank is full and how to check the levels.

How to tell your septic tank is full and needs emptying

To know when to empty your septic tank you need to know what a "full" septic tank looks like. There can be three different definitions of full.

  1. Normal Level: Every septic system is designed to hold a certain amount of fluid. A tank is said to be in this stage when wastewater can flow smoothly in and out of the septic tank. At this stage when the tank is pumped it will become empty but as you use it it will return to the normal level.
  2. Accumulation of Sludge: The accumulation of sludge can also be considered a "full" septic tank. Sludge can build up and be trapped in the tank over time. This sludge will need to be removed to ensure the longevity of the tank.
  3. Overfilled Tank: Once septic tanks reach their full potential they will get to a point where they will start rejecting the water. Water will start backing up into the overflow tank when this happens.

The type of tank you have might also impact the upkeep of it. For example, concrete septic tanks do not rust as opposed to steel septic tanks which are prone to rust.

So now that we know the different ways a septic tank can be full, we can delve into the warning signs you need to look out for.

The warning signs

There are warning signs that your septic systems will give you which indicates that it is time to pump your tank.

Pooling water

A common sign that something is not working in a tank is the pooling of water in the surrounding areas of a septic tank. If your area has not received much rain recently but you notice puddles of water then you should be concerned.

Slow drains

Slow drains are never good especially if you have a septic tank installed in your household. If you notice your toilet, sink, or bath draining at a severely slow rate then something is wrong. This might be a sign of the system being too full and now needing to be emptied or evidence of a clog in the system.

Steps you should take if this happens is firstly to use a drain cleaner that is septic friendly. However, if the problem continues then it is recommended that the septic system gets emptied professionally.

Unpleasant odours

This is an easy sign to pick up on as it is quite disruptive. Septic systems hold your wastewater so when the liquid waste starts filling up it is a very noticeable odour.

The smell can be an indication that it is time to pump the tank or that there might be a leak in the septic system.

Sewer backup and trouble flushing

The evidence of sewer backup is an obvious sign that something is going wrong. You should keep an eye out for the low drains in your household as these will start showing signs of backup first.

As soon as you notice this you need to get your tank emptied .

If you notice your toilets struggling to flush or a weak flush then it could be linked to slow drainage. If you notice slow drains in all your household toilets then you may have a weak flush or your septic tank might be full.

Slow drainage can be caused by several things including an overfilled septic tank that needs to be pumped.

Gurgling water sounds

The consistent gurgling water sounds from your pipes is a sign that your tank might be full and needs emptying. When the drain field is not draining, it results in a running water sound. This might be because there is too much solid water or wastewater in the drain field, as a result of this wastewater flowing back into your tank.

Overly healthy lawn

An overly green lawn is a good sign that you need to drain your tank. This happens because the tank overflows and spills to the surrounding lawn. The liquid acts as a good fertilizer causing the lawn to look luscious and green. Whilst a green lawn isn't necessarily a bad side effect to most, it is something you shouldn't turn a blind eye to.

The fastest and easier way to understand if the septic tank is the cause of your good-looking lawn is by calling in a plumber to take a look.


The Importance of Septic Tank Emptying & Maintenance

 The easiest and most efficient way to keep track of when your tank needs emptying before it starts giving signs is to keep a schedule. A simple way to prevent the problem is to determine emptying intervals.

There are a number of factors that impacts the emptying intervals including size, number of people using the tank, amount of generated waste and volume of solid waste. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that tanks be emptied for 3-5 years.

It's recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency that tanks be emptied every 3-5 years. The exact timing will depend on a couple of things.

If you got your septic tank second hand it is a good idea to ask to ensure you ask the previous owner about the emptying schedule. If you are unable to get this information then empty the tank straight away as it gives you a clean slate to start your schedule.


Talk to a professional to get your septic tank pumped

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