Anyone that owns a septic system will tell you that a backup or slowing of drainage is a major nuisance and can strike at any time. There are several reasons why this might happen and unfortunately, most homeowners do not think about using preventative measures until its too late. Let’s take a moment to look at all of the reasons why these backups occur and how it might be possible to fix the system on your own.
One area of concern is that of overuse where excess liquid or solid enters the main system. These systems are designed to handle a certain amount of water and solid material at one time. Studies have shown that the morning hours are the busiest times for septic systems since the household experiences a lot of traffic while the occupants prepare for the day ahead. This rush of activity might include showers, meal preparation, laundry and other daily events which task the system. By focusing on breaking your daily events and chores which are usage related, the system will be better able to handle the workload since staggered use is more easily handled as opposed to an “all at once” type of usage. Staggering your water use will extend the life of your system and will help keep internal tank and field pressures at bay.
Tree roots, large and small, are a huge enemy to septic systems. Root penetration can cause a plethora of issues including blockage and major damage. Have you ever notice how tree roots, over time, will actually move a sidewalk right off the ground? Well, that is the same thing that can happen to your sensitive leach lines should the roots gain entry. Smaller roots tend to spiral up within the lines where they catch material passing by, leading to clogs and backups. If you allow the roots to create a backup condition, the remedy can cost a hefty amount since the lines will need to be bored out, repaired if necessary and treated chemically. Make sure that you plant trees and large bushes away from your septic system. Shrubs and small ornamental bushes, as well as flower beds will be okay to plant as these roots have a very little impact on the operation of these systems.
An imbalance in bacteria will be another large problem that an owner will have an issue with since most household cleaner have a tendency to destroy bacteria and enzymes. In some cases, toxic chemical cleaners purportedly designed to restore failed system, are poured into the system. These anti-bacterial type chemicals are often times the direct cause to this imbalance and can only be corrected with the addition of bacterial additives. If your system is weakened or has a reduced bacteria colony count, seek out and administer a bacteria shock treatment to help restore balance to the ecosystem. While there is a healthy amount of bacteria in human waste, this amount is no where near what is needed to combat the detrimental effects of most household cleaners.
If you have a system that has not been pumped out regularly, you may wish to schedule an inspection to see if a clean out may be needed since all systems require emptying from time to time. Failing to pump out the system will allow sludge and solid levels to rise beyond acceptable limits where they may move into the leach line areas. Since the lateral lines are not designed to accept solids, problems will result and this event should be prevented at all cost. If you have been using a bacteria additive regularly, you will experience great reduction in pump-out frequency.
These are just a few of the reasons why a septic system will back up. Now that the causes are known you can take the needed steps to avoid this issue in the future and go out of your way to make sure that your system does not back up again. Prevention will be your best friend in the process of getting a system that will be able to provide the needed functions that you require. The main thing is that you try to avoid problems at first and make sure that you know how to fix anything before you try. This can save you thousands of dollars in repairs.