What Are The Signs Of A Failing Septic System?

Your septic system has a big responsibility. Every day, it eliminates wastewater from your house and then treats it to stop the spread of pathogens and contaminants that could affect the health of your family and pets, as well as the environment. 

At Jones Plumbing & Septic Tank Service, we provide septic tank service in Gainesville, FL, as a way to keep septic tanks clean and operational, and we strongly encourage homeowners to schedule services yearly. If these septic services are delayed, or an accident or natural disaster occurs, your septic system could be at risk of failing — and yes, that’s as bad as it sounds. 

When your septic system fails, untreated sewage exits the system and pollutes the groundwater (tainting the water supply), surface water (putting at-risk any lifeform it contacts), and marine water (threatening fresh and saltwater fish). Recognizing a septic system is failing allows you to contact a septic company to intervene and limit any damage. Here are eight signs your septic tank has problems.

Septic Tanks Alachua County, Florida

1. Bad Odors Arise From Septic Tank Or Drainfield

Aside from the noble purpose it serves, there’s nothing else attractive about a septic tank. However, most of the negative attributes of sewage treatment, such as bad odors, should be contained by the system. If you notice rotten scents emanating from the septic tank, this could signal the tank is either full or leaking. Similarly, bad smells coming from the drain field indicate the system isn’t removing biological materials properly before expelling the wastewater effluent. Don’t wait until you smell bad odors to schedule septic tank pumping. By that time, it may be too late to salvage the tank, and it may need to be replaced.

2. Water Or Sewage Backs Up

A clogged drain will cause water to pool and disappear slowly. However, if you notice water actively backing up out of drains, sinks, or the toilet, this could be signs of a septic tank back up. In serious cases, it’s not only water but also flushed sewage that make their way back up. When this happens, stop using the plumbing immediately and contact a septic company. Backed-up sewage produces not only an unpleasant sight and odor but also health risks, so steer clear of the area until help arrives.

3. Well Water Contains Nitrates & Bacteria

If you live in rural North Central Florida, chances are your water comes from a private well, while some Gainesville residents have wells, too.  Monitoring your well water’s quality is imperative to ensure healthy drinking water. If your water test reveals elevated levels of nitrates or coliform bacteria, these contaminants likely came from sewage from a failed septic tank. At this point, you should stop consuming the water — don’t give any to your pets or plants, either — and call for septic tank service. 

4. Yard Contains Standing Water

Standing water on the lawn is perfectly normal after a rainstorm, but if you’re finding puddles on days with clear skies, the source of that moisture could be the septic system. Granted, you could have left the hose running or accidentally knocked a sprinkler head with the mower, so investigate these possible causes as well. But what you shouldn’t do is ignore the problem. If your septic tank is leaking onto the lawn, it can kill the grass and put your family at risk. Let us come out and fix the septic system, so you don’t have to worry.

5. Algae Blooms In Local Ponds

Having a pond on your property is a great attribute, as it offers a place to go fishing and can boost your property’s beauty and value. However, excess algae can discolor the pond water as well as deplete  marine life of oxygen. Toxic runoff is a leading cause of algae blooms in rural areas, and one of the main sources of those toxins are failing septic systems. It’s to your advantage to practice proper septic tank care, not only to save money on repairs down the line but also to be a good steward of the environment around your home. If you spot algae nearby, inspect your septic system, or have a professional do it.

6. Water Drains Slowly

If the water in your sink or bathtub is draining slowly, the reason might be a clog. While these are typically the result of hair and soap residue (in bathrooms) or fat, oil, and grease (FOG) (in kitchens), another possibility is the septic tank is backed up or failing. If you have plumbing knowledge, inspect the drains for a clog. If you see none, call us right away for septic service. Also, if you’re uncomfortable working on the pipes yourself, call us for service and simply limit your water use until we arrive.

7. Bright Grass Grows Near Septic Tank

Bright green grass is considered desirable for a lawn, but not when it’s concentrated in a single patch. These strange spots of grass are caused by an effluent leak from the septic tank, which usually happens as the result of a failing drain field. As you tend to your landscaping throughout the year, pay attention to oddly colored patches of grass. If one develops, keep yourself and your pets out of the area and schedule a septic tank inspection.

8. Plumbing Gurgles

A plumbing system is like a mini-symphony — every component has its signature sound: the running tap, the flushing toilet, the sprinkling showerhead, and together they comprise the sonorous sounds of well-functioning pipes. But keep your ears open for odd notes, meaning strange noises emanating from the drains and pipes. Typically, these will sound like gurgling noises caused by air or gas and liquid battling inside the plumbing. Gurgles can indicate any number of plumbing issues and among them is a failing septic system.

Schedule A Septic Tank Inspection

If you’re wondering how to take care of your septic system, the easiest answer is not to mistreat your plumbing (don’t flush anything that shouldn’t be flushed) and schedule recurring septic tank maintenance. At Jones Plumbing & Septic Tank Services, our service areas cover most of North Central Florida, including Gainesville and Alachua County. Whether you’ve spotted one of the eight signs of a failing septic system, or you’re looking to schedule a routine septic tank clean out, contact our septic tank professionals at Jones Plumbing & Septic Tank Services.