Septic Tank is Getting Full? Here are the Signs to Look For

words Alexa Wang

Septic Tank full

Septic systems are an amazing compliment to the home as it allows you to naturally and properly dispose of your water waste. The system has been tried and tested for decades and it’s still the most preferred disposal system by some because of its merits. As the septic system takes care of your water waste for you, you should take care of the system in turn.

Septic systems don’t require too much maintenance. In fact, the US Environment Protection Agency suggests having it checked at least every 3-5 years. The system does most of the work but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. One of the most common issues that happen in the system is centered around the septic tank.

The septic tank is basically where all of your water waste goes. In it, the solids are dissolved by bacteria colonies where it sets in the bottom as sludge. On the top rests the oil and grease called scum. The resulting water – called the effluent, is drained out of the pipe and into the drain field to percolate into the soil.

Eventually, your septic tank will get full because of the sludge and scum build-up. Seeing as septic tanks are usually buried underground, it’s tough to know when it’s full. People only notice the issue when it’s already too late and the tank is already overflowing. Here are a few signs that you should look for.

Pools Of Water In The Drainfield

One of the first things you should look for is pools of water in the drain field. This should be pretty obvious. The reason for pooling water is that the septic tank is no longer releasing water at the right rate. As the water is already seeping out of the tank, the soil isn’t able to handle the amount of water trying to percolate through it.

Most of the pools of water will be nearby the access rise of the septic tank. If you click here, you can read that the access rises if the lid where pumps are usually placed to clean the septic tank.


When the septic tank is full, water will be released from the tank at a rapid rate. As the soil can no longer accommodate the speed of the water’s release, you can expect to smell a foul odor coming from the drain field. Keep in mind that the septic tank is filled with water waste, sludge, and scum.

In most cases, only the effluent water comes out of the full septic tank, says the EPA. However, since the release is too fast, it will be harder for the soil to absorb the water and mask its odor. The smell can be described as being similar to sewage smell. Of course, you’d want to have this fixed ASAP as your neighbors could be bothered by it as well.

Slow Drains

When your septic tank is already full, the pipes are going to start clogging. The water from the septic tank will find other means to try and escape so this means they go up the pipes as well. Once the septic tank is full, you’ll begin to notice that your drains are starting to move more slowly – some drains might not even take up any water at all.

The drains will be slower at lower parts of the house. This will make it bothersome for others to do the dishes, take a shower, and just do any other task that requires the drain

It also goes without saying that your toilet won’t be able to function properly as well. When flushing, it will take a lot longer for the water to go down.  When the water does finally go down in your pipes and toilet, you should hear a gurgling sound coming from the drain which is also an indicator that the septic tank is full.

An Unnaturally Healthy Lawn

A healthy lawn means that your septic tank is working properly. However, if the grass is too lush and the part that covers the top of the septic tank looks unnaturally healthy, that means that the tank is already full. This may seem like an odd sign that your tank is full but it definitely means something is amidst.

Septic Tank

An unnaturally healthy lawn means that the grass is getting a ton of water from below. The septic tank releases just the right amount of water to keep the grass alive and healthy. It may look beautiful to see such a healthy lawn but eventually, this could result in major complications for your septic tank.

Sewage Backup

This is possibly one of the worst signs that your septic tank is already full. Check out the drains from the lower parts of the house. If you see that there’s sewage backing up, you need to call the cleaners ASAP. Water Waste serves as a serious threat to your health so you may want to get your septic tank drained.

What To Do When It’s Full?

Some people try to fix the problem themselves. However, septic tanks are harder to clean than you’d think. Aside from making sure that you are safe from the bacteria, you also need to ensure that you have the right equipment to clean the inside of the tank. As such, it is more advisable to call professional cleaners to have the tank cleaned for you.

They will empty your tank of all that’s inside. They’ll also dispose of the wastewater and sludge properly. If you were to do this on your own, you won’t have any safe means to dispose of the water. Of course, it will take you a long time to have the septic tank cleaned considering that you lack the proper equipment.

Unless you don’t take care of your septic system, it will take years before your septic tank fills up. Avoid having a full tank by scheduling regular checkups every 3 or 5 years. Having your tank pumped, emptied, and cleaned ensures that you are going to be living in a healthy and sanitary environment.


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