How to Check if a Septic Tank is Full
Septic tanks are an important part of any home, and it is crucial to make sure they are functioning properly. One way to do this is by checking if the tank is full. In this guide, we will walk you through the process of how to check if a septic tank is full.
Keep in mind that this guide should only be used as a reference; always consult with a professional septic tank inspector before making any decisions about your tank.
What Does a Full Septic Tank Mean?
Before we get into how to check whether or not a septic tank is full, it’s important to first understand what this means. A full septic tank means that the wastewater in the tank has reached its maximum capacity and can no longer hold any more sewage.
When this happens, the wastewater will start to back up into your home or business, which is definitely not a situation you want to find yourself in.
So How Do You Check if Your Septic Tank is Full?
Now that you know what a full septic tank could result in, let’s take a look at how to check if yours is full. Here are the steps:
Locate your septic tank
Step one is pretty self-explanatory. Before you can do anything about your potential problem, you first need to find your septic tank. This is usually located in the front or back yard and can be identified by its large size (usually around 1000 gallons) and round shape.
If you’re having trouble locating it, ask a family member or friend for help, or contact your local septic tank professional.
Measure the level of wastewater in your septic tank
Once you’ve found your septic tank, it’s time to measure the level of wastewater inside. To do this, you’ll need a long stick or rod that can reach the bottom of the tank.
Carefully lower the stick into the tank and note the level of wastewater. If it’s below the outlet pipe, your tank is not full. However, if the wastewater reaches or exceeds the outlet pipe, your tank is full, and you’ll need to take action.
Contact a septic tank professional
If you think your septic tank might be full, it’s important to contact a septic tank professional right away. They’ll be able to inspect the tank and determine if there is a problem.
Pump out your septic tank
Once you’ve contacted a septic tank professional, you can then make arrangements with them to pump out your septic tank. This process involves using a large truck to suck out the wastewater from your tank and transport it to a treatment facility.
Once the tank has been pumped out, it will be empty and ready to start collecting sewage again.
10 Signs that You May Have a Full Septic Tank
Now that you know how to manually check if your septic tank is full, it’s also important to be aware of the signs that may indicate that this is a problem. These signs are things that you may notice, and can just as easily inform you that your septic tank may be full, without even having to manually check. Here are ten common symptoms of a full septic tank:
Sewage backup in your home or business
This is the most obvious sign that there’s a problem with your septic tank. If you see or smell sewage anywhere other than the toilet, it’s time to take action.
Sewage backup can happen for a number of reasons, but the most common is that the septic tank is full and can’t take any more waste. When this happens, sewage starts to back up into your home or business through the drains.
Slow drains in your home could mean that the septic tank is full
If you are noticing this, pour a gallon of water into each drain in your house and wait 30 minutes. If the drains are still slow after doing this, then it is likely that the septic tank is full and needs to be pumped.
If you are noticing that your drains are constantly getting clogged, this could be a sign that you have a problem. When the septic tank is full, solids can start to build up in the pipes and cause clogs.
You may need to have your septic tank pumped more often if you have a lot of clogs. You can also try using a drain cleaner to help clear the clogs, and prevent them from happening in the future.
Gurgling sounds from drains
If you are hearing strange gurgling noises coming from your drains, it could be a sign that the septic tank is full. This noise is caused by wastewater trying to back up into the pipes.
Bad smells coming from drains
Another sign that the septic tank is full is bad smells coming from the drains. This is caused by the build-up of sewage in the septic tank. Having nowhere else to go, the foul odors of the sewage will often waft up into your drains.
The soggy ground around the tank
If you are noticing that the ground around your septic tank is wet and soggy, it could be a sign that there’s a problem. This happens when the tank is full, and wastewater is beginning to leak out.
Malfunctioning septic pump
If your septic tank has a pump, it may start to malfunction when the tank is full. This can cause the pump to run constantly or not at all.
Leaky tanks or pipes
If you notice that your septic tank or pipes are leaking, it’s a sign that the septic system is not working properly. This can be caused by a number of things, but the most common is a full septic tank.
Erosion around the tank
If you are noticing that the ground around your septic tank is eroding, it could be a sign that there’s a problem. This happens when wastewater from the tank starts to leak out and cause damage to the soil.
Tank is filled above normal level
The final sign that your septic tank is full is when the water level in the tank is not at the normal level. This happens when the solids in the tank have nowhere to go and start to fill up the space.
If you notice that the water level in your septic tank is high, it’s a sign of an overflowing septic tank. This can cause serious damage to your property, and is a major health hazard. If you suspect that you may be facing this issue, it’s important to contact a septic tank professional right away.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is solid waste buildup in my septic tank a sign that it's full?
Yes, when the septic tank is full, solids can start to build up and cause clogs. This can also lead to bad smells coming from the drains.
How to determine proper emptying intervals for my septic tank?
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that you have your septic tank pumped every three to five years. However, this may vary depending on the size of your tank and the amount of water used.