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Septic tank troubleshooting checklist

Sam Warren's Photo
Written by Sam Warren

Are you having problems with your septic tank?

Follow our Septic Tank Troubleshooting Checklist to find out what's going on!

If your septic tank has been quietly working away underground for years without bothering you, it can be a bit of a shock when things start to go awry. If you think you might have noticed problems brewing, here's our Septic Tank Troubleshooting Checklist to help you get to the bottom (excuse the pun) of what's going on.

Ok, so what do septic tank troubles look like (or smell like, might be more appropriate)? Trouble underground can show itself above ground in all sorts of unpleasant ways. You might notice your toilets taking longer to flush than usual, or hear gurgling sounds in the pipes. You might notice puddles of dirty water pooling above where the drainage system is, or even waste water spilling out of manhole covers. You may also notice some unpleasant whiffs coming from the system - the odd niff here and there usually isn't anything to be concerned about, but if it's persisting and putting you off your lunch, you'll want to investigate (or stand well back and get someone else to).

  1. Is it time for an empty? This might sound like an obvious starting point, but if you've had family staying over, or anything that might increase the usage of your septic tank, it might be needing an empty sooner than usual. So, first things first, arrange for the septic tank to be emptied. If this sorts the problem out, then I am glad to have been of service! What happens if you don’t regularly empty your tank? In short, bad things. Not emptying your septic tank regularly can result in several different problems - toilets taking longer to flush, gurgling sounds in your pipes, even waste backing up to your house. It can also mean that the wrong kind of waste escapes from your septic tank out into the soakaway system, blocking it up and forcing the waste to pool above ground. Not only is this bad news for you, it's also bad news for the environment as the waste can pollute local watercourses.
  2. Check what's been flushed into the system. Septic tanks and other off mains drainage systems can be sensitive things, and there are plenty of things that could be flushed into them which would cause them all sorts of upset. Things such as antibacterial cleaning products, grease and oil and even cotton buds can wreak havoc with your septic tank (especially if you also have a soakaway system). Read our full article here on the top ten things you shouldn't flush into a septic tank. If anyone in your household has flushed something down there that they shouldn't have, this might have caused a blockage.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 waste water 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.
  6. Get a specialist out to take a thorough look. Well, not just any specialist, get UKDP out to take a thorough look. Why? Because we'll be able to tell you what's causing the trouble, and we may even be able to get the costs of any works required covered by your existing buildings insurance. Find out how it all works here and call us today on 0800 028 9903 or 01628 788600.

Septic tank troubles can be a worry, but with any luck the problems will be quick and easy to remedy. And if not, don't panic, because with the UKDP team on your side we'll help to get things working again as quickly as possible - we might even be able to save you money in the process.

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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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