Is your septic tank overflowing? Here are some troubleshooting tips from the UK Drainage Professionals!

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Written by Sam Warren

Fast Facts

  • Bad smells and surface puddling can be signs of a failing system, or simply a blockage within the drainage system
  • A regular emptying routine is vital. Interim empties may be needed after heavy rain or heavy use
  • Soft blockages can often be fixed by a drainage clearance company
  • A thorough professional inspection will be needed for more complex problems
  • The cost of a replacement system could be covered by your existing buildings insurance policy

Unpleasant smells and surface puddling near the tank can be early warning signs that all is not as it should be underground

If you have septic tank problems, your tank may start to overflow. If your property has a soakaway, and that has become blocked, the nasty stuff might even start to pool above ground in your garden. But that’s not the only sign of trouble, you might find your toilets slower to flush than usual. Or worse, the contents of your septic tank might start to back up into the toilets and sinks in your house.

If your septic tank is overflowing, you’ll want to get it sorted ASAP, as it's a problem that's unlikely to resolve itself!

With any luck, it will be quick and easy to fix. Follow our checklist below on what to do if your septic tank is overflowing:

Turn Detective to see if you can work out where the problem might be, here are our top tips

What evidence is there? Is the actual tank itself overflowing, either through a manhole or by dirty water pooling above the ground? Are your toilets taking longer to flush, or your showers and baths taking longer to drain away?

Check that the covers for your septic tank and any other manholes are intact - any breaks or splits can let surface water into the tank, which might cause it to overflow.

Is any part of your drainage system outside of the boundary of your property? This isn't unusual in the world of off mains drainage systems. If so, you'll want to go and check whether anything's happened in the area that the system is - for example vehicle movement above soakaway pipework, which can cause the pipes to collapse.

Check where you think the problem might be occurring. If you've spotted water pooling above the ground where your soakaway system is, it might mean that the soakaway has stopped working properly, and wastewater is making its way to the surface instead of passing through the sub soils. Has there been any movement in the ground around the tank itself? This might indicate damage to the walls of the tank itself.

If you can’t physically see any nasty stuff pooling in the ground near your septic tank or soakaway, but your toilets are taking longer to flush then there’s a chance that there is simply a `soft’ blockage in the pipe that runs from your house to the tank. This is the easiest problem to fix. A local drainage clearance company should be able to clear this for you.

In the meantime, make sure that nothing is being flushed down the toilets or put down the sink that shouldn’t be. You can read our article on what not to flush into your septic tank, but as a general guide, you should never flush these things down your toilets if you have a septic tank or any other off mains drainage system:

  • Sanitary products
  • Disposable nappies
  • Wet wipes (some claim to be `flushable’ – but it’s best not to take any chances)

You’ll also need to avoid putting any of these down your sink:

  • Fats or cooking oil – these can cause some serious soakaway problems if your property has one
  • Antibacterial products like kitchen cleaners and handwashes – these can kill off the good bacteria in your septic tank

If you think that someone has flushed something they shouldn’t have done down the toilet, it’s best to have a polite word with them and request that they stop doing it immediately.

When did you last have the septic tank emptied?

Most septic tanks need emptying once a year. And most good tanker companies will remind you each time when your next empty is due. It’s best to keep a record of when you’ve had your septic tank emptied for future reference, so dig out your receipts and see if an empty is overdue.

If you’ve only very recently had the tank emptied, and it seems to be overflowing again, this could be a sign of a problem. It’s not always the case that the septic tank or soakaway is damaged. If there has been a lot of heavy rain of late, or if you’ve had more guests than normal at the property, then this can overload the drainage system.

Either way, if your septic tank is overflowing or seems to be backing up, check when it was last emptied and get straight on to your local tanker company to ask them to come back out and empty it again.

Get an expert out to investigate

Emptying your septic tank will give relief to the immediate overflowing problem, but if there’s something more sinister going on with the tank or the soakaway, you really want to know exactly what it is.

Nobody wants to have to deal with problems with their drainage system, but ignoring it could make things worse, and could end up costing you more money to put right.

We’ve carried out hundreds of septic tank inspections. We can let you know exactly what the problem is and what needs to happen to resolve it. It’s quick and easy to book an appointment, just give us a call.

Don’t pay for anything you’ve already paid your Buildings insurer to cover.

Many people are unaware that most buildings insurance policies provide cover for damaged septic tanks and soakaways.

The team at the UK Drainage Professionals is unique in that we combine technical septic tank expertise and extensive insurance policy knowledge, which means that we can provide a specialist claims management service for people with damaged drainage systems. If there is any damage to your drainage system, don’t hesitate to call us. We’ll get to the bottom of the problem, check your policy has the right cover and manage everything on your behalf. We know that it can be stressful (not to mention unpleasant) when your septic tank has problems, and we do everything to take the stress away from our customers and get everything back to how it was.

It all starts with a quick call to our friendly team. They’ll explain everything and you can decide how you wish to proceed. We’re here to help and to get you back to where you were, so get in touch today!

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Sam Warren's Photo
Written by Sam Warren

Sam's career prior to UKDP was spent in the marketing and service industries, so she is focused on making sure we look after our customers – and getting the UKDP message out there! Sam has overall responsibility for business operations and for delivering the best customer service we can.

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