What Should I Do If My Septic Tank Smells This Winter?

Residential septic tank being pumped out during the winter with snow on the ground.

A smelly septic tank is not only an inconvenience, it’s also a pain to deal with. Unfortunately, they’re also quite common. Nonetheless, knowing how to minimize and even avoid septic tank smells is extremely important, which is probably why you’re here right now. In this article, we’re going to get to the bottom of how to diagnose and eliminate bad smells from your septic tank.

Since there could be several reasons why your septic tank smells, we’ll take a look at some of the most common and likely reasons. But first, it’s important to know the location of the septic tank on your property. Here is some information on how to locate the skeptic on your property. Now that you have located the tank let’s review why it might smell so bad.

Pipe Cracks

Your sewer system consists of a large series of pipes that run from the inside of your house to the outside. It’s possible that one of these pipes has cracked, especially if they’re made of steel or cast iron. If a sewage pipe has a crack in it, you’ll definitely have some septic tank issues inside your home. If you can smell the septic tank outside your house, it’s possible that a cracked pipe is the cause. If this is the case, you are likely to have other septic tank issues too.

Partial Blockage

Another common problem with a septic tank is a blockage inside your home line. A pipe that is clogged with waste and/or other material will cause a buildup of toxic material. The blockage will prevent your sewage from properly draining and will often cause a backwash and foul odor. Depending on the location of the blockage, the odor will eventually make its way into your home.

Blocked Vent Stack

Wherever there’s a plumbing pipe that drains water, there must be a vent stack. Vent stacks are pipes that run vertically through your roof, and they allow sewage gases to escape to the outside where they can safely dissipate. These pipes also encourage proper drainage and airflow throughout the system. Similar to a blocked pipe, if a vent stack is clogged or can’t vent the gases for some reason, you will likely have a vicious sewage smell throughout your home. One way to avoid a smelly septic tank from impacting your home is to make sure your vent pipes are properly maintained.

To keep your vent stacks clear, you should flush your toilets and run water in all of your sinks and tubs at least once every three weeks. You are likely to use your facilities more than this on a regular basis, but this is the minimum amount of use required to keep your vent pipes operating as they should.

Animal Nests

It’s also possible that an animal has built a nest inside one of your vent pipes. Birds, squirrels, and a variety of other rodents seek warmth and shelter during the cold Canadian winter. A vent pipe provides an ideal environment for small rodents and birds to keep warm during cold weather. Therefore, it’s not unheard of for them to build their nests in vent pipes from time to time.

Ice Buildup or Frozen Drain Field

Most of the situations mentioned above that can result in a smelly septic tank can be resolved with some help from a professional. A frozen drain field or leech field, however, is one of the more serious problems that can occur with your septic tank during cold weather.

During extremely cold weather, the liquid inside the septic tank can freeze. If this happens liquid and waste trying to make their way into the storage tank is unable to do so, due to the frozen blockage. If this situation, you’ll need to call in a professional quickly to resolve the issue before the frozen line causes a bigger problem (like a busted drain line).

Tank Needs to be Pumped

While the inside of a septic tank smells foul, you shouldn’t be able to smell it above ground or in your home. If you do, there’s a good chance that your septic tank needs to be pumped. If you’re wondering “How do I get rid of septic tank smells,” pumping your tank is one of the easiest and fastest solutions. Pumping and regular septic tank maintenance will go a long way to keep your septic tank from smelling.

Depending on the size of your tank and daily usage, it’s recommended to have your septic tank pumped out at least every two to five years. To pump and dispose of the waste properly, have a professional service perform this routine maintenance. If you think this might be the reason you can smell your septic tank outside your home, visit this link for more information.

Multiple Causes? Let the Pros Help

Whether you know why your septic system smells and can’t fix the problem or you’re not sure why it smells, your local Mr. Rooter can help. We can inspect your septic system to determine if it is operating properly. If there’s a problem, we’ll offer solutions on the best way to fix it, so you don’t have to deal with a septic tank that is smelly or not working properly. Septic tanks are never going to smell good, but you shouldn’t have to live with their odor inside or outside your home. Call us or visit us online to schedule an appointment.

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