Septic tank problems: what you need to know

problème de fosse septique - Sanibert / septic tank problems

If you live outside major urban centers or if you own a home away from the centre of a municipality, then you must use a septic tank. Although these facilities do not require excessive maintenance, it is very important to ensure their proper functioning by being alert to signs of malfunction. By doing so, you avoid all inconveniences and unnecessary expenses related to the repair or replacement of your septic tank. Besides, be aware that a defective sanitary installation can not only cause many costly problems, but also lead to pollution of lakes and source of drinking water.

Septic tank functions

A sanitary evacuation system consists of two devices: the septic tank and the septic field (also called tile bed). The role of the septic tank is to liquefy solids, by settling and fermentation through the action of anaerobic bacteria. As solids settle to the bottom of the tank in he form of sludge, the scum floats to the surface. The disposal field, meanwhile, continues the purification of wastewater through the action of bacteria that digest and eliminate waste such as solids in suspension. Once the process is complete, the filtered wastewaters infiltrate the soil.

Septic tank problems 

A septic tank that is poorly maintained, defective, the wrong size or improperly used often shows various signs of malfunction. Here are a few.

Backflow in toilets or other sanitary ware. It is also possible that flushing occurs much more slowly.
-Presence of bad smells in the house, in drinking water or near your sanitary installation after a rain.
– You notice that the soil around your septic tank or septic field is soggy. The presence of puddles of wastewater or effluents.
– If your sanitary system is equipped with a dosing pump, it could be running continuously.
– You will notice that the grass is much greener and thicker above your disposal field. Although you may appreciate it, this situation should still raise the red flag.
– If your home is near a lake or stream and you notice an accumulation of seaweed, this is a symptom of a defective septic tank.
– The water in your well shows high levels of nitrates, bacteria or other contaminants? Have your septic tank checked.

The right things to do

Although the role of a septic tank is to treat and filter waste water and organic waste, the fact remains that it is not a waste bin. Its use must respect certain rules. As a first step, avoid throwing the following items in your septic system :

  • Grease, oils and fats, petrol, antifreeze
  • Varnishes, paints and solvents
  • Cat litter
  • Tampons and sanitary pads, diapers, napkins and facial tissues
  • Condoms, plastics
  • Ground coffee, eggshells and other kitchen waste


Furthermore, consider emptying your septic tank at least once every two years for a year-round home and once every four years for a seasonal home. By doing the right things, you can avoid several problems related to your septic tank. Does your installation need maintenance? Contact a specialized company like Sanibert for quality service.

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