COMMON PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS OF SEPTIC SYSTEMS

Septic systems often have problems that are not from age and Biomat clogging.

Many problems have solutions that do not require septic system replacement.

The suggestions outlined below are merely guidelines.

Contacting Pirana System for assistance is your best first option.

  1. Pumping septic tanks. Standard or conventional septic tanks should be pumped at least every five years. If not, solids will build up in the tank. The floating solids can get so thick the inlet pipe from the house can become blocked and or solids can leave the tank and settle in the disposal field. Symptom: Plumbing fixtures, such as toilets and bathtub/shower drain slowly, make strange gurgling noises or completely stop draining as well has premature disposal field failure.
    Solution: Contact Pirana for assistance. Call a pumper to inspect your septic system. After pumping you will know if the disposal field is functioning properly. It may be necessary to install a Pirana in the septic tank to remediate the disposal field. If after pumping the tank there are still problems with plumbing fixtures draining properly, call a pumper to inspect the waste pipes to the septic tank.
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  2. Green growth or dead spots over the septic system. Standard installation depth for a disposal field is one to two feet below the surface of the soil. Over time, the disposal field will fill with septic liquid and often reach the root zone of plants growing over the septic system. Symptom: Vibrant green growth or stripping over the septic system and or dead spots.
    Solution: Contact Pirana for assistance.If your septic system is 20+ years old, it has probably reached the end of its design life. If reasonably less than 20+ years old, this problem can be caused by physical factors that need to be investigated. Contact a pumper and have the tank pumped and the septic system inspected. If it is determined that the disposal field is at the end of its useful life, install a Pirana and remediate the disposal field.
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  3. Wet spots or surfacing effluent over the disposal field or septic tank can have a variety of causes. If your septic systems is at or near its design life (20 to 25 years), the most likely cause is biomat clogging of the soil. If the age of your septic system is dramatically less than there can be numerous other problems.
    Solution: Contact Pirana for assistance. Review this list of to see if any of them apply. Follow the suggested guidelines.
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  4. Roots in the septic tank. Roots from trees and shrubs near a septic tank can enter the septic tank and the sewer pipe from the house. The roots can build up in the inlet pipe or the area in the tank where the inlet pipe enters the septic tank. If these roots become dense enough, they can trap solids from the house. Eventually these solids can slow down or completely block waste from entering the tank. Symptom: Plumbing fixtures can drain slowly or completely back up, make strange noises or liquid can surface or wet spots can form around the septic tank.
    Solution: Contact Pirana for assistance. Call a pumper to clean and inspect the septic tank. If the inlet pipe is impacted with roots, call a Rooter to remove the root mass. Consider removing the trees or shrubs that are the source of the roots. Have the septic tank inspected for cracks. Install a Pirana to keep the septic tank clean and during the annual inspection remove any new root growth.
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  5. Roots in the disposal field. Biomat growth in roots within the disposal lines and D-Boxes can cause clogging of the disposal lines. Symptom: Surfacing liquid, wet spots over septic system or backing up of liquid in septic tank.
    Solution: Contact Pirana for assistance. If you are told you have roots in the distribution lines within the disposal field, rooting or jetting the lines to remove the roots is a solution. Make sure the distribution lines are not made of Orangeburg pipe material. Jetting or rooting can break this old style pipe. Only jet or root plastic or ABS distribution pipe. Have the distribution boxes inspected to see if they need to be cleaned or replaced. Install a Pirana to remediate a disposal field impacted by roots.
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  6. Settling of the septic tank. Settling of the septic tank can cause inlet and outlet pipes to break or become separated from the tank. Symptom: Backing up of the plumbing in the house, a wet spot or surfacing liquid at the end of the septic tank that has this settled.
    Solution: Contact Pirana for assistance. Call a septic contractor to repair the pipes or realign and reconnect the pipes to the septic tank.
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  7. Liquid at inlet of the septic tank is above the inlet pipe. If a septic tank settles out of level toward the outlet end, this raises the liquid level relative to the inlet pipe. The liquid in the tank will back up into the inlet pipe. This slows the movement of solids into the septic tank. The solids have to be "pushed" into the septic tank by the weight of additional solids added each day. Solids build up in the inlet pipe. Symptom: Slow draining or backing up of plumbing fixtures.
    Solution: Contact Pirana for assistance. Call a pumper or septic contractor to realign the inlet pipe.
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  8. Effluent filters. Improper cleaning of effluent filters can cause septic tanks to back up. Any filter needs to be replaced or cleaned depending on usage. It is the same with an effluent filter for a septic tank. Symptom: Surfacing liquid or wet spot over the septic tank, plumbing backing up into the house.
    Solution: Contact Pirana for assistance. Remove and clean the effluent filter following manufacturer's instruction. If plumbing problems persist in the house after cleaning, call a pumper and have your waste lines cleaned. Check the filter every month until you understand how often it needs to be cleaned.
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  9. Bacteria and enzyme additives. The use of these products can cause premature septic system failure. Their frequent use can reduce septic tank pumping but for the wrong reason. The concentration of enzymes in these products break down the retained solids in a septic tank and cause them to suspend within the septic tank liquid. Bacteria in the products can live in the septic tank for a few days. In the septic tank they produce additional enzymes. These bacteria do very little digestion. More solids suspend in the septic tank liquid and leave the septic tank to be deposited in the disposal field. There these solids enhance disposal field failure. Symptom: Premature septic system failure. Any type of septic system failure can occur.
    Solution: Contact Pirana for assistance. Stop putting additives in the septic system. It may be necessary to call a pumper or Rooter and have your D-boxes and disposal lines cleaned. Install a Pirana to remediate the disposal field.
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  10. Driving or parking on disposal field. Driving or parking on a disposal field creates vibrations that can cause the soil to compact. Compaction reduces the spaces between the soil particles and thereby reduces the ability of the soil to absorb and percolate liquid. The smaller spaces between the soil particles allow Biomat to more quickly fill and clog these spaces. This process can dramatically reduce the life of a septic system. Symptom: Premature septic system failure. Any type of failure can occur.
    Solution: Contact Pirana for assistance. The course of any driveway or area for parking should be re-directed off of the disposal field. It some cases it is possible to loosen the soil with specialized equipment. Install a Pirana to help reduce problems from compaction by eliminating Biomat clogging.
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  11. Animals on disposal field. The outward pressure on the soil by the hooves of large and heavy animals can cause the soil needed to keep liquid in a disposal field to migrate away. This reduces the soil cap over the disposal area. Symptom: Liquid surfacing or wet spots over disposal field.
    Solution: Contact Pirana for assistance. Move the corrals and animals off of the disposal field. Hire a contractor to bring compactable soil to increase the depth of the soil cap over the disposal field. Install a Pirana to help reduce problems of soil compaction.
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  12. Medications and prescription drugs. Septic tanks need microbes. Pharmaceutical chemicals and drugs can be powerful poisons for microbes. The most problematic drugs are those used in chemo therapy, antibiotics and immune suppression drugs. Many other classes of drugs can also be toxic. Without microbes, solids can leave the septic tank and end up in the disposal field. Symptom: Premature septic system failure shortly after starting the use of drugs.
    Solution: Contact Pirana for assistance. Frequent inspections should be made to evaluate septic system function during period of drug use. If toxicity becomes an issue, measures should be taken to stop problems from septic tank malfunction. Most medications are excreted in urine. In extreme cases, have individual on medication use other means to eliminate urine. The Pirana system can be adapted and modified to reduce drug toxicity.
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  13. Water softeners that discharge backwash into a septic tank can cause problems two ways. The first is the increase in the PH of the liquid effluent in the septic tank that can reach concentrations that can kill bacteria. Salt is a preservative that kills bacteria that spoil (or consume) organic material we call food. Consuming too much salt will cause problems in our digestive tract by damaging the community of intestinal bacteria we have living in our intestines. These intestinal bacteria are the major community of bacteria living in an anaerobic septic tank. The second is the potential for salt to clog certain kinds of soils. Clays and other fine particulate soils can have the salt from the softener bind up and concentrate in these soils around the disposal field and inhibit the movement of liquid further into the soil. Symptom: Premature disposal field failure and septic tank problems.
    Solution: Contact Pirana for assistance. Call a local septic system professional or plumber to inspect the septic system with a point to diagnose the potential for the septic tank seperation process to be inhibited and soils to be impaired by salt. There are several chemical treatments or additives that can be used to mobilize the salt and remove it from the soils around the disposal field. If the people contacted don't know of these chemical additives, contact Pirana for more information. Redirecting the backwash discharge line to another place is an easy option. Pirana has suggestions and designs to accomplish this.
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  14. Chemicals, paint or paint thinner, oil or automotive products, caustic compounds or liquids. Many of these materials can disrupt the bacterial community in a septic tank. They can end up in the soil of the disposal field where they can cause long term damage by clogging and poisoning the soil. Symptom: Septic problems occur shortly after introduction of materials into septic tank.
    Solution: Contact Pirana for assistance. If any of these materials are put into a septic system, have the septic tank pumped and cleaned. Depending on the amount of material introduced into the septic tank, it might be advisable to have the D-boxes exposed and the lines inspected. Installing a Pirana in the septic tank can help to remediate the disposal field.
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  15. Hillside septic systems. Two forces affect hillside installations that do not affect level installations. Ground water moving through the soil by gravity and the increase in hydraulic pressure as Biomat reduces absorption and backs up liquid into distribution pipes. Symptom: Wet spots or surfacing liquid over or below the disposal field.
    Solution: Contact Pirana for assistance. If there is ground water or flooding issues, contact a contractor to discuss the installation of a sub-soil diversion drain up hill and around the sides of your disposal field. (also called a French Drain or Curtin Drain) This will move the ground water away from the field and allow it to function properly. If there is premature surfacing of effluent, hydraulic issues may be the problem. Contact a contractor and see about re-laying and compacting the soil over the area to act as a plug. It may be necessary to cap and fill the area. Install a Pirana to assist in drying out the area.


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