Why Septic Systems Produce Odors

When you smell something bad, that often means something is not right and this too is true with septic systems. Yes, the prime role of septic tanks is to collect human waste, and it is an obvious fact that human waste doesn’t smell good. Septic tanks are supposed to contain the bad odor, but if the septic tank is functioning properly, septic tank odor should not be present and that unpleasant odor should not circulate around the house. Smelly septic tanks indicate that something is wrong with the system and may mean serious problems.

We have listed some common causes of septic tank odors.

  1. Full Septic Tank. How often a septic tank needs to be pumped depends on its size versus the number of persons in the household who use the system. If a household owner doesn’t consider plumbing the septic tank in a regular basis (ideally, every 1 to 3 years), he can expect septic tank odor to leak eventually. If this happens, obviously, the solution is to just have it plumbed.
  2. Dysfunctional Septic Tank Vents. Vents function as equalizers to the septic system. It balances the pressure from inside and outside of the system so that sinks and toilets won’t produce unwanted sounds as water flows towards the septic tank. Clogged vents create back pressure which leads to over flowing of the septic tank, which eventually produces the stinky septic tank odor. In this case, you may contact a plumber to resolve this problem.
  3.  Broken Pipes. Odor may enter the house through cracked and/or broken pipes. You may ask help from a wastewater professional to resolve this matter. A smoke bomb can be placed in the septic tank to locate the cracks. The smoke may be harmful to human, so before the smoke bomb is activated, occupants are advised to leave the house and keep windows open for ventilation.
  4. Unwanted materials in the Septic Tank. We don’t want cooking grease, paint, solvents, feminine hygiene products and other non biodegradable materials to go down our drain for these materials don’t decompose, disrupting the sewage breakdown and eventually cause the unwanted septic tank odor.
  5. No Septic Tank Vent. This is even worse than a broken vent. Without the proper vent, unwanted, smelly septic gas may come up through the drains and spread inside the house. 

It is important to know the cause for each problem before a solution can be made. Before we can come up with a solution on how to avoid and/or stop septic tank odor, we should know first how it occurred. Not everyone is an expert on this issue, which is why plumbers and wastewater professional services are available for our use. We do not want our house to smell like human waste, or worse, our neighborhood. The odor alone may cause serious health problems, therefore needs to be avoided.