Septic tanks and household drain systems work together to manage wastewater from homes not connected to municipal sewer lines. When one part of this infrastructure fails or becomes clogged, it can cause problems for the other system.
A blocked household drain can back up sewage into the home, while a full or malfunctioning septic tank may overflow into drain lines. Understanding how these systems interconnect is important for maintenance and troubleshooting potential issues.
Septic tanks are designed to collect household wastewater and allow solids to settle to the bottom while liquids are dispersed into the drain field. When solids build up too much in the tank, they can be flushed into drain lines instead of properly decomposing.
Clogged drains prevent wastewater from exiting the home, causing it to back up into low-lying fixtures and potentially overfill the septic tank. If either system becomes overwhelmed, sewage can pollute yards, basements, or nearby water sources.
The Mechanism of Septic Tanks
Septic tanks utilise natural bacterial processes and simple mechanics to treat household wastewater. As wastewater enters the septic tank from the home, it slowly passes through an inlet tee or baffle that distributes the flow evenly across the entire width of the tank. This allows solids like food scraps, paper, and human waste to separate from liquids and settle to the bottom.
Liquids pass through an effluent filter and screen that captures the remaining solids, allowing clearer liquid to move to the drainfield. Heavier solids continue settling into the tank bottom, where natural anaerobic bacteria begin to break them down.
Within the septic tank, solids and scum rise to the top and form distinct layers over time. The partitioned tank separates the entering wastewater from the liquid, leaving for the drain field.
This allows solids to remain undisturbed as they gradually break down by bacteria over months. Gases produced from decomposition are trapped under the tank lid. Periodic pumping is required to remove built-up solids from the bottom of the tank before they are compacted and pushed into the drain field, which could cause clogs.
Signs of Septic Tank Issues
There are a few noticeable signs above ground that can indicate a homeowner’s septic system may be experiencing problems and need attention. Slow drainage or backups in sinks and drains are obvious signs the system is not accepting wastewater efficiently. Soggy or flooded spots in the drainage field, especially after heavy rains, could mean the leach field has been compromised.
Other warning signs include unusual smells emerging from the plumbing vent pipes, drainage field, or surrounding soil. If sewage backs up instead of absorbing in the drainage field, odour should be investigated.
Around the septic tank access ports, signs of an impending backup include fluid bubbling up or overflowing from the inspection pipes. This liquid may be sewage rather than the usual clarified effluent.
An unexplained decrease in the intervals between routine pumping schedules required could mean excess solids are accumulating faster than normal within the tank. Grass or plants growing excessively green and lush above the drainage field may result from extra nitrogen in the soil from a system malfunction.
These indicators warrant getting the septic system inspected and evaluated by a professional.
Septic Tank Woes Leading to Blocked Drains
When a septic tank becomes overfull or solids aren’t breaking down properly, it stresses the entire waste disposal system. Liquid waste that hasn’t been allowed to separate and clarify may carry more solid particles into the drainfield. This can eventually cause clogs in underground pipes.
Additionally, a backed-up septic tank needs somewhere to send the fresh waste entering it from the household. Sewage may then start backing up through low fixtures like sinks, showers, and toilets as the tank tries to compensate. Debris like toilet paper, grease, hardened faeces, and other solids can accumulate in drains as excess flow overloads capacity.
Malfunctions within the septic tank upsetting its balance of separation and decomposition have cascading effects. A clogged drain field prevents the septic system from properly discharging liquid effluent, reducing the available volume for new waste.
As a result, incoming solids and liquids that couldn’t settle out end up headed back toward the home’s plumbing. This causes a persistent cycle where either the drain lines or septic tank can become overwhelmed, leading to backups and unnecessary waste of valuable wastewater resources. Addressing the core septic tank issues is necessary to ease pressures throughout the entire system.
Tree Roots and Septic Tank Challenges
Tree roots growing near or into septic system components can create significant issues over time. The root systems of trees and shrubs are constantly expanding in search of water and nutrients. This search can take roots directly into septic tank lids, crack concrete and PVC piping, or infiltrate porous drain fields.
Once established inside closed septic structures, roots have been known to break into hard surfaces or completely fill tanks. They clog key filtration and flow areas, preventing proper separation and distribution of waste. In drain fields, roots choke porous soil and jam distribution lines, stopping absorption.
Pipes can be pulled apart by aggressive root growth. This tree root intrusion often leads to total system backups and failures, requiring expensive repairs or replacement. Homeowners must carefully consider plantings very close to buried septic system infrastructure.
Clearing Blocked Drains Caused by Septic Tank Issues
When underlying septic tank issues potentially cause blocked drains, it’s important to address both problems simultaneously to prevent future clogs. The first step is to have the septic tank professionally inspected and pumped if needed to remove built-up sludge that may be backing up into the home’s plumbing.
With the source of excess solids and fluid removed, drain blockages can be cleared more easily. A plumber may open cleanouts and run snakes, high-pressure water jets or air tools through the lines to dislodge clogs. They’ll check for tree roots or other intrusions and patch any breaks.
Clearing drains alone without fixing a dysfunctional septic system is only a temporary solution, as tank issues will continue adding more debris to overwhelm the drainage system over time. A full evaluation and repair of any septic tank faults is critical.
Tips for Preventing Septic Tank-Related Blocked Drains
Homeowners can take some proactive steps to help prevent their septic system from overloading and potentially causing drain blockages. Having the tank professionally pumped every 3-5 years to remove sludge buildup is key.
Limiting what goes down drains by not dumping fats, oils, chemicals, or excessive solids keeps things flowing smoothly. Repairing any leaking fixtures immediately conserves water. Adjusting toilet flushing and washing habits prevents wasting potentially hundreds of extra gallons per month.
Keeping trees and shrubbery at least 10 feet from all septic components avoids future root intrusion issues. Inspecting the drainage area yearly, looking for wet or lush growth and fixing any cracks or breaks helps the system absorb properly. Following these basic maintenance tips can help keep the septic tank and drains working well in harmony for many years.
Connect with Fixed Today Plumbing
Septic tanks and household drainage systems are intricately connected - when one faces problems, it inevitably affects the other as well. Issues like solid accumulations in the septic tank or root intrusions in the drain field can overload these systems, leading to blockages or back-ups.
It’s important for homeowners using septic systems to understand these connections and proactively maintain both infrastructure components. Suppose you suspect your septic tank may be contributing to blocked drains or ongoing sewage backups, creating bigger plumbing problems. In that case, it’s time to evaluate your entire system by a professional.
Fixed Today is ready to inspect, diagnose, and address any maintenance needs for your septic and plumbing. Our experts can ensure solid waste and wastewater flow smoothly again from your home to the septic field without overburdening household drains.
To discuss options for clearing your lines and optimising your septic performance long-term, don’t hesitate to contact Fixed Today. Our goal is to get your home’s wastewater system back in full working order.