There are varying opinions about how often a homeowner should have the contents of their home's septic tank pumped out. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a healthy, functional system may only need to be pumped at three- to five-year intervals.
But many factors can create the need for more frequent pumping or other forms of maintenance, including the development of conditions that should be considered an emergency situation. If you are charged with the care of your home's septic system, including deciding how often it must be pumped, these tips will help you recognize a developing septic emergency and how to address it.
The appearance of intense odor of raw sewage
The appearance or odor of raw sewage on the lawn in the area of your septic system is a classic sign of a serious problem, including:
- a ruptured or damaged septic tank
- a crushed or damaged section or joint in the drain pipe
- a failed drain field
In addition to surfacing on the lawn, homeowners who note the levels of raw sewage rising inside of their septic system's clean out ports or worse, inside the drains of their home are seeing signs of an emergency situation that will need to be addressed immediately to prevent their home from being flooded with raw sewage.
Rising nitrate levels in water testing
Many of the homes that use septic systems for their waste disposal needs also use a private water well to supply clean drinking water for their home. Like public water supplies, responsible homeowners should have their water tested regularly for contaminants. Rising nitrate levels in the reports for these well water tests indicate the strong possibility that the septic tank may not be functioning properly and may instead, be allowing raw sewage to seep into the soil and make its way into the groundwater that feeds the well.
Alerts from a septic alarm system
Many modern septic systems now have alarm systems to alert homeowners of a developing septic system problem. While the alarm can go off for a variety of reasons, a full or leaking septic tank is a frequent cause.
While most home septic systems function well with only minimal maintenance and assistance from the homeowner, noting any of the examples listed above should always be considered to be a septic system emergency. Homeowners who note one or more of the these signs should immediately stop using their septic system and contact a reputable septic pumping service for assistance. Contact a service, like Economy Septic Service, for more help.