Dealing with a leaky septic tank is one of the most uniquely unpleasant experiences any homeowner can suffer, and anybody whose home sewage system is linked to a septic tank will take great pains to avoid any mechanical problems with their tank.
However, there exists a common misconception that a well-maintained tank will never have to be emptied as long as no waste the tank's bacteria cannot digest is flushed into your sewage system. Unfortunately, the rate of waste disposal can far exceed the rate at which microbes can break it down in even single-occupancy homes, and sooner or later any septic tank will need to be professionally emptied.
It can be difficult to judge when your septic tank requires emptying (unless you fancy poking your head inside and taking a look), and keeping to a regular schedule generally helps you keep your tank from overflowing. However, a septic tank that requires emptying sooner rather than later can also emit a few distinctive warning signs; if you spot any of the following signs of a full or overflowing septic tank, have your tank emptied immediately before the problems get worse.
The sewage disposal systems in your home are designed to prevent foul smells from coming back up the pipes, even when a septic tank is full. However, septic tanks are also used to dispose of less hazardous greywater from sinks, showers and washing machines. If the pipes connected to these greywater appliances start to smell decidedly off, it may be a sign that waste water is backing up in the pipes and stagnating because of a full septic tank.
Most of the time, we assume slow drains are caused by blockages within the pipe and break out the plungers and pipe scourers. However, consistently slow drains that are suffering from blockages more frequently than usual can signify a full septic tank, particularly if the tank is struggling with the amount of solid waste that is deposited down your sewage pipes. A good way to rule out blockages is to check whether your greywater and sewage systems are both slowing down; if one system remains unaffected, start looking for blockages in the pipes of the other system.
A healthy lawn
This one may sound a little unintuitive, but the unpleasant liquids exuded by a leaking, overflowing septic tank function as an excellent fertiliser for grass and other green plants. Obviously you shouldn't have your septic tank emptied simply because your lawn is coming in well, but a distinctly healthier patch of grass around the area your septic tank is buried can signify overflowing problems.
This is generally the most serious sign of an overflowing septic tank and must be dealt with immediately before your home is damaged and the local groundwater becomes contaminated. Pools of water can appear spontaneously around your tank in very serious cases, but a more common occurrence is puddles of waterlogged soil stubbornly refusing to drain after rainy periods. Be sure to keep away from these pools yourself, as they may be contaminated with matter from the tank.
Contact a company like Able Liquid Waste Pty Ltd to inspect your tank for cleaning and emptying.