When to Repair or Replace a Septic System

If you have a private septic system, chances are you may need to repair or replace it at some point. The process isn’t cheap and it is best to have an idea what you are looking for and looking at in order to decide if you need to replace an entire system or have repairs done.

Whether you replace or repair, generally this is a job that needs a professional evaluation and is not exactly a DIY project. Being armed with enough information, though, to make an informed decision about the best course of action can save you money and headaches.

While there are different types of septic systems available and what is used is dependent upon regulations in the area, most septic systems work on the same basic principle: Waste flows out of the home, through a pipe, into a holding tank. In the holding tank, beneficial bacteria will break down the waste into liquid and eventually the liquid seeps through an outlet on the other side of the tank. That outflow will seep into a drainage field where it is absorbed back into the ground. Drain fields usually contain perforated pipes, gravel and sand as well as plants that help break down the effluent.

If you find sewage backed up into your home, you will need to check the water level in the septic tank. You can do this yourself by opening the lid of the tank which is located outside and taking a look to see if the level of the liquid is lower than the outlet. That could mean that a pipe between the house and the tank is clogged.

On the other hand, if the water level appears to be higher than the outlet, then the problem lies beyond the pipe from the house to the tank. It could be a problem with the tank, the drainage field or some other component of the system. You will need to call out a septic tank pumping company to have the tank pumped to get a better look. Any plumber you call will need the tank pumped so they can get a better look at the situation. This would need to be the first step before anything can really be done.

If you don’t want to check the water level yourself, you can call a septic tank pumping company to check it and if they need to pump the tank, they can do so while they are there.

A bigger problem such as one with the drain field usually means a replacement of some or all of the system will be required. Drain field issues can arise because the tank is not pumped out frequently enough or there has been a breakdown in the system that doesn’t allow proper drainage of liquids.

Ultimately, a professional will need to determine if there is an easy repair that needs to be made or if a complete replacement for the system will be required.

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