Septic systems are crucial for homes that don’t connect to a public sewer system. They’re more common in rural areas and require routine maintenance to ensure they work properly.
In fact, over 15% of Canadian homes rely on septic systems to treat their home’s wastewater. These convenient systems consist of four main parts: a pipe travelling from your house to the septic tank, the tank itself, an absorption field, and soil.
But how do you know if your septic system is bad and in need of repair or replacement?
There are various things to look for in your home and yard. Or, for a more in-depth investigation into your septic's inner workings, make sure to have a professional septic inspection done.
Keep reading to discover when your septic system needs service and who to call for septic tank repair in Newmarket.
Signs Within Your Home
There are signs within your home that point to a septic system in need of repair. Ignoring these issues can compound problems, turning a small problem into a much larger, more expensive one.
For starters, noisy plumbing is a red flag. It may sound like your pipes are gurgling, and you may notice it in every plumbing fixture in your home, down to the toilets.
If you hear any suspicious noises, don't hesitate to get a professional over to your house. This may be a sign of a blockage somewhere within your septic system.
Check your drains. Are they draining particularly slow? Don't assume normal build-up is causing your drains to work slower. Slow drains could be a sign of a more serious issue.
Are you flushing over and over after using the bathroom? If so, there may be an issue with your absorption field.
You may have a clog in your absorption field if this is the case. This can lead to your entire absorption field failing to work, so don't hesitate to seek professional help. Failing absorption fields typically need replacement, so act fast.
If you have a two-story house and notice your first floor has water backing up through the drains, then there's a good chance your septic is in trouble. Ignoring a sign like this can result in unnecessary expenses.
Do you smell sewage anywhere on your property? This can include inside your home as well as outside on your property. If so, it's time to enlist in emergency professional assistance before things get out of hand.
This may not seem like a "bad" sign, but it is. While most homeowners want a beautiful green lawn, if you notice an unusual onset of new, green grass (or weeds), a failing absorption field may be the culprit.
Waste held in your septic tank may be backing up into your absorption field, causing plant life to grow in excess.
Water in Your Yard
When a septic system is malfunctioning, standing water may start to accumulate in your yard. You may notice puddles of water everywhere, signifying a problem that can't be overlooked.
What's worse, by the time you notice things like bad odours and standing water in your yard, chances are your absorption field is already beyond repair. The failure to pump your tank is usually to blame.
A thick layer of sludge accumulates in your yard, preventing any new wastewater from filtering out.
If you notice any of these signs, then odds are your septic system is in need of repair or replacement. Schedule an appointment with a trusted professional before a minor problem becomes a bigger one.
A service technician will set up a time to inspect your property in order to diagnose the root cause of your septic issues.
Septic Tank Inspection
Septic tank maintenance is crucial. Failure to take care of your septic tank can have costly repercussions.
For best results, have your septic tank inspected at least every three years. Find a reputable septic inspector to come to your home and perform the inspection.
When the inspector arrives they'll review the history of your septic system, so it's important to provide them with any information you have. The inspector will also discuss maintenance with you and whether or not your tank has been routinely taken care of.
If you're noticing any current issues with your septic tank, make sure to bring it to your inspector's attention.
Your inspector will begin with a visual inspection, looking to identify problems with tools such as mirrors and cameras. These items will be placed within your septic tank. This will also provide a clear picture of your filtration system and potential issues.
Once this part of the inspection is complete your inspector will move on to your absorption field.
Absorption Fields 101
Absorption fields are also known as leach fields and are an important part of your septic system. Absorption fields consist of perforated pipes placed in a field close to your septic tank.
They work by transporting the wastewater from your septic tank and releasing it into an absorption field. This happens after any solid materials collect in your septic tank. The perforations in the pipes allow the wastewater to slowly drain into this special field.
You may be wondering where your waste goes. Most systems have a distribution box that collects the wastewater prior to distributing it within your absorption field.
Unfortunately, even the best-maintained septic systems need to be replaced when they reach a certain age. The absorption field can hold only so much waste, causing it to become clogged with age.
In addition, smaller absorption fields need replacement sooner than larger ones.
No matter what size your absorption field is, routine maintenance is essential. On average, a well-maintained septic system will last 20-30 years.
Some will last longer if the absorption field is large enough and the tank is concrete and well cared for. Steel tanks, on the other hand, may rust after 15 to 20 years of use.
Absorption Field Inspection
Once your inspector has concluded the visual inspection of your septic tank, they'll look at your absorption field.
The inspector will need to dig a series of holes in your yard, all around the septic system. They'll check to see if standing water has accumulated in any of these holes. If so, you probably need your septic system serviced.
There are other telltale signs your absorption field is in trouble and needs repairs. For starters, your entire absorption field may become soaked with water.
The presence of spongy grass indicates the ground is saturated and your absorption field is to blame.
Unfortunately, when your absorption field becomes sodden with water, you may also see sewage backup into your home through sinks, toilets, and tubs. You may also notice unpleasant odours near the location of your absorption field.
If issues are spotted by your inspector, a plan will be made to either repair or replace your septic system.
On average, a brand new septic system can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $13,000 and more, depending on how extensive the job is and the size of your property.
Routine maintenance and regularly pumping your septic tank can help prevent major issues from happening which allows you to maximize the life of your septic tank and save you money.
Septic Tank Repair
If you've been told your septic system is in need of repair, then you're probably wondering what this means and what you should expect.
For starters, absorption fields that fail inspection usually need replacement. Once the ground has reached a certain level of waste accumulation, little can be done but replace the entire field.
Septic tanks, however, may need repairs depending on the issue.
In fact, if the absorption field is your main issue, try to reuse your existing tank in order to save money.
If you routinely pump your tank but are still noticing that water is draining slowly or backing up into your home, then there's a good chance you have a clogged pipe somewhere. This can happen after flushing items down the toilet instead of throwing them in the trash.
A professional will be able to identify the source of the clog and clear it out before problems get worse.
As a precaution, make sure you never flush anything besides waste and septic safe toilet paper. Things like feminine products, diapers, and baby wipes are strictly for the trash can.
In addition, make sure to scrape food from dishes into the trash can before rinsing them off, don't use garbage disposals, and never put any kind of cooking oil or grease down the drain.
The less that goes down into your septic system, the better. Look for toilet paper and detergents labelled as "septic safe," and aim to do your laundry throughout the week instead of all on one day. This would minimize undue strain on your septic system.
Clearing Out Tree Roots
Tree roots, like any other type of vegetation or plant life, will grow and thrive where there is ample fertilizer. This makes them prone to seeking out your septic system and forcing their way through its inner workings.
As a result, this can wreak havoc on your septic system. This can cut off water flow and block drainage pipes.
Tree roots can be an expensive problem for your septic system, so take preventative measures to keep them at bay.
Figure out exactly where your septic tank and absorption field are. Be mindful not to plant in this general area, keeping that space free and clear from tree roots.
If you do opt to plant any trees in your yard, do your research. Look for trees that have slow-growing roots. They'll take longer to grow and likely cause less damage to your septic system.
If your septic system has a leak and needs repairs, begin by having your tank pumped. Then, have it cleaned and dried before adding a layer of cement filler to seal the crack in your tank.
Don't attempt to do this yourself as dangerous chemicals are often used. Trained professionals need to handle the materials used when sealing a leaking septic tank.
If the crack is beyond repair, you'll need a brand new septic tank. Contractors will break your old tank into pieces and either bury it or haul it away, before installing your new tank.
If part of the problem was due to location, then consider moving your entire septic system elsewhere onto your property. However, if the problems you experienced were due to a faulty tank, then a new one should do the trick.
Keeping up with septic tank maintenance should help prevent leaks and cracks before they start.
In addition to regularly scheduled septic tank inspections, make sure to pump your tank at least every three years. Make sure to inspect your yard, especially the area where your absorption field is. Call a professional if you suspect any issues are happening within your system.
Make sure all septic tank lids are securely in place. Don't waste water, as this only accumulates within your tank. Be mindful of the foliage you plant and be sure not to block your septic lids, ensuring easy access when needed.
Be mindful of the cleaning agents you use in your home, never putting any chemicals down the drain. This means never using any type of chemical product to unclog drains. When in doubt, opt for natural solutions like vinegar and baking soda to unclog drains or use sink snakes and toilet augers for clogs.
If you suspect you need septic tank repair, then contact us today. A member of our dedicated staff will be happy to schedule a service appointment for you.
Don't let a little issue turn into a big one. Call (905) 895-6966 today to schedule your routine septic service.