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For homes in rural areas, Septic tanks are a necessary component of wastewater treatment systems. Although we often don’t think about them until a plumbing problem arises, maintaining these tanks is crucial to the longevity and day-to-day operation of a home’s septic system.

It’s important to know the signs that indicate your septic tank is overfull to maintain it properly and to avoid disaster.

What Does it Mean When a Septic Tank is “Overfull”

A septic tank, by design, is always full. It maintains an operating level allowing approximately eight inches of airspace. As wastewater enters the tank, solid waste is retained, and liquid waste, or effluent, is forced from the tank into the soil absorption field, also known as a drainfield. Every 1-5 years, depending upon household size, the septic tank should be pumped clean. Soon after, the tank will be refilled with wastewater, and the process begins anew.

Sometimes, a tank may become overfull because it is clogged with sludge. As solid waste continues to accumulate in the septic tank, there is less available space. If too much sludge accumulates, sewage is allowed to flow into the drainfield, where it can impede the flow of effluent water, causing the tank to overflow.

To keep your septic system in good working order, remember that while it’s normal for the tank to be always full, you should ensure the sludge level does not build up to the point where sewage is allowed to enter the drainfield. The key to this is regularly timed pumping.

To avoid an overfull tank caused by sludge buildup and to keep the drainfield in good working order, the septic tank should be pumped every 1-5 years. The exact frequency of pumping depends on several factors, including the size of your septic tank, the number of people in your household, and the total volume of wastewater and solid waste your family generates. Some smaller-capacity septic tanks may need to be pumped more than once per year.

If you are moving into a new home, it’s a good idea to ask for documentation of the previous sewage maintenance schedule. In cases where this information is not available, it’s advisable to have the system pumped as a precautionary measure. Waiting too long to pump your septic system can lead to sludge buildup, which risks damaging your drainage system. Regular maintenance is essential to keep it functioning properly.

How Do I Tell If My Septic Tank Is Overdue For Maintenance?

If you’re wondering whether your septic tank might be overfull, there are several indicators to watch out for. Identifying these signs early can help you maximize the life of your septic system:

  • Challenges with Flushing and Draining: A common sign of an overfull septic tank is when toilets don’t flush properly or there are backups. Similarly, if all lower drains in your home are slow, it’s likely more than just a regular clog—it could indicate a septic issue.
  • Noisy Plumbing: Gurgling sounds from your pipes are a tell-tale sign. This noise is caused by air getting trapped due to an overfull septic tank, though it can also be due to blockages.
  • Changes in Lawn Appearance: If the grass above your septic tank is notably greener than the rest of your lawn, and the ground is soft or spongy, this could be a subtle sign of leakage from an overfull tank.
  • Pooling Water: Keep an eye out for water pooling in the area where your septic tank is buried. This is a strong indicator of overflow, especially if there’s a sewage-like smell accompanying it.
  • Unpleasant Odors: Any persistent sewage smell in your home or yard is a red flag. This could be due to a problem with your tank’s ventilation system or a sign that the tank is overflowing.
  • Visible Sewage Backup: The most serious sign is sewage backup in your home, particularly in lower drains like those in bathtubs or showers. This is a health hazard and requires immediate professional attention.

Regular inspections and responding promptly to these signs are great ways to prevent major septic tank issues. Should you notice any of these, it’s important to contact an experienced and reliable septic service as soon as possible.

How Can Aloha Sanitary Service Help with My Septic Tank?

If you’re in Oregon and facing septic tank issues, a professional service like Aloha Sanitary Service can provide comprehensive solutions. Here’s how we can assist you:

  • Inspection and Diagnosis: Aloha Sanitary Service can conduct a thorough inspection of your septic system to diagnose the problem. We use specialized equipment to assess the tank’s condition and level of fullness and check for any clogs or damage.
  • Pumping and Cleaning: If your septic tank is full, we can pump it out, removing the accumulated sludge and scum. This process is crucial for restoring your septic system’s functionality and preventing backups or overflows.
  • Repair and Maintenance: In case of damage or issues with your septic system, Aloha Sanitary Service can carry out any necessary repairs. We offer regular maintenance to keep your septic system in good working condition and reduce the risk of future problems.
  • Expert Advice: Our experts can provide advice on proper septic system care, including what not to flush or pour down drains. Our guidance can help you maintain your septic system and prevent further issues.
  • Regular Service Scheduling: To prevent future septic tank overflows, we can set up a regular pumping and maintenance schedule based on your household size, tank size, and usage patterns.
  • Emergency Services: In case of urgent issues, Aloha Sanitary Service offers emergency call-outs to address septic system failures or severe backups promptly. We’ll meet with you nights and weekends to meet your needs.

Using a professional service ensures that your septic system is handled safely and effectively and that it keeps your home’s wastewater system running smoothly.

At Aloha Sanitary Service, we have 60 years of experience with septic tanks in Oregon. Our reputation speaks for itself. If you have septic tank problems, call our friendly staff today at (503) 648-6254.