Cause of Septic Problems

Although a septic tank does not often fail, problems occur when the drainage plugs up, usually with solid material that should remain in the tank. Causes of problems include the buildup of fine solids and heavy water usage.

Excessive Volume

Failure can occur because of hydraulic overload, or when the total volume of water in the tank overloads the system. Leaky toilet valves represent a major source of excess water. They can leak hundreds of gallons into the tank each day, according to

Periods of Heavy Usage

Using a lot of water at one time, such as by doing multiple loads of laundry, does not allow solids to settle normally in the tank. They float up and can plug the drainage. Spreading out water consumption over a period of time can prevent this.

Use of Chemicals

The overuse of chemicals can kill the bacteria that help break down solid wastes in the system. Using automatic toilet bowl cleaners can harm beneficial as well as harmful bacteria.

Fine Solids

Washing machines and food disposal units produce solids that do not have much mass. They do not settle in the tank but remain suspended and plug up the drainage. Installing filters and reducing the use of the disposals can prevent this.

Septic Tank Life Expectancy

How long a septic tank lasts depends on factors like daily hydraulic loading and types of chemicals used, according to

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