September 27, 2022

5 Common Septic Tank Problems and How to Fix Them


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Country houses and summer cottages are often equipped with autonomous sewer systems, since central sewerage is not always available in areas remote from the city. With the sanitary and technical arrangement of private properties, one cannot do without a special installation responsible for collecting and treating wastewater from domestic and chemical pollution. In order to ensure environmental safety not only on your site, but also in the whole area, it is important to regularly check the septic tank for proper operation. Problems with a septic tank are fraught with the ingress of destructive substances and pathogenic bacteria into the soil, and from there into groundwater and local water bodies.

Types of faults
Modern factory equipment enjoys high confidence among consumers. Potentially, this can weaken their vigilance and lead to overlooking serious deviations in the operation of the septic tank. But avoiding a catastrophic situation is not difficult if you identify problems in time and fix them immediately after detection.

What problems can the owner of a private house face when operating a septic tank?

1. Septic tank flooded.
2. Clogged septic tank (water does not leave the plumbing).
3. Mechanical damage to the body, system leakage.
4. Freezing of the septic tank body or inlet / outlet pipe.
5. Bad smell from the septic tank in the house.

When circumstances develop in such a way that it is necessary to take urgent measures, the owners have a reasonable question: is it possible to independently return the septic tank to working capacity?

Possession of basic information about the design of septic tanks, the principle of their operation and possible malfunctions will help you quickly navigate in a critical situation.

Causes of malfunctions and their elimination
Problems with the operation of a septic tank are not always noticeable on the first day. Sometimes violations cannot be detected during a cursory examination – this is especially true for areas that are empty during the season, for example, in winter a septic tank may freeze due to poor insulation or factory defects. There is no universal method for each specific case, so all possible malfunctions require a detailed review.

Too much water in the septic tank
When a high water level is detected in a septic tank, it causes concern to site owners. The question immediately arises: water in the septic tank, what to do? The reasons for this situation can be different, and they differ depending on the type of septic tank and the condition of the mechanical elements of the water treatment system.

If the septic tank is electric, then the following problems are possible:

The operation of pumping equipment was disrupted, i.e. it no longer pumps purified water. The result is an overflow of the septic tank.
The hoses have shifted.
One of the key elements has gone or clogged – a pipe, an airlift or a switch.
Important! Before diagnosing all the elements, a septic tank full of water must be opened and all liquid must be pumped out with a drainage pump.

If, nevertheless, the septic tank is flooded with water and you only need to return the parts to their original state, then outside help will not be needed here. Another thing is the presence of irreversible damage that requires replacement parts. In this situation, you will need advice or the services of specialists.

The operation of autonomous septic tanks can be complicated by the following circumstances:

The accumulation of deposits – siltation of the septic tank, due to their untimely pumping.
The solution to the problem is to remove excess sludge.

Suddenly appeared groundwater, which was not previously in this place. To eliminate the overflow of the septic tank, it is necessary to dig out and install a pump at the outlet pipe, which will forcibly pump out purified water. Sometimes this cannot be done – in this case, the device will have to be concreted, and the outlet pipe should be removed as far as possible from the territory with the exit of groundwater.
Error at the stage of installation of equipment. Any inaccuracy in the calculations of the volumes of drains or the angles of the slope of the pipelines will lead to the fact that the septic tank will not be able to cope with the amount of liquid in excess of the technically calculated one. The surest way to get rid of the problem is to completely reinstall the system with data recalculation and change / supplement the existing design.

How to clean a septic tank?
Septic tank silted up? To avoid this, cleaning should be carried out at least once a year. We list several methods:

If there are silt pipes, it is required to resort to their help and remove the silt.
In the absence of such pipes, a sewage machine with suction pipes should be used. This is how water is pumped out of the septic tank.
If there is a congestion, then you can use the sewage equipment.
There is another way in which cleaning a septic tank with your own hands is not difficult – bacteria. You can buy liquid with their content in special stores. With their help, the question immediately disappears: how to eliminate the smell from the septic tank. Even if the septic tank stinks, the microorganisms will quickly cope with this problem. They will purify the water to the required level. A few tips for the procedure:

1. Do not pour liquids containing chlorine into the septic tank. Otherwise, you can kill the right bacteria.
2. In case of contact with chemicals, add other means to the autonomous sewer. So you correct the situation and provide a new settlement. Don’t forget to add plain water.
3.In case of hardening, fill the septic tank with water and re-place new bacteria.

Answering the question: how to clean a septic tank? It is safe to say that it is not necessary to pay money for this, everything can be done independently.

If the septic tank freezes in the winter, then certain measures will need to be taken. They are aimed at eliminating the effect of cold on the structure, freezing of the structure and maintaining operational characteristics.

But how to insulate septic tanks? There are several methods, their use depends on the seasonality of residence, design and many other factors. Consider the main options.

Insulation for seasonal living
Warming a septic tank when living only during the summer can be done using the simplest means. In autumn, its location can be covered with dry grass, spruce branches, pressed with boards and stones.

With a sufficient amount of snow falling, the cover can provide excellent insulation and completely eliminate freezing. If its quantity is not enough, then you can manually heat the snowdrift over the septic tank.

The advantages of such insulation:

Zero cost, only improvised materials are required.
Ease of implementation.
Sufficiently high efficiency.
For year round use.

Several insulation options:

Bookmark below the freezing depth. In some areas, it can reach 2.5 meters, and it will be necessary to provide the necessary level of slope for the system. As a result, the amount of excavation work and the cost of construction will increase.
Heating a septic tank with a cable. Special electrical wires are laid inside the structure and provide its heating, regardless of external conditions. But there is also a drawback – power outages occur in rural areas, and additional funds will have to be allocated to purchase autonomous power supplies.

Application of thermal insulation
Thermal insulation is the best option that is suitable for most owners. Pipes and structures can be wrapped with tow and mineral wool, polyethylene foam or polyurethane foam can be applied.

As a rule, foam and mineral wool slabs are most often used for septic tanks, they are installed around the structure. Pay special attention to the insulation of the top. The thermal insulation layer must be sprinkled with sand with additional washing with water. The specific solution depends on the type of septic tank and your financial capabilities.

During operation, toxic gases accumulate inside the structure. They are formed during the breakdown of organic matter and must be removed from the system. In addition, it is necessary to ensure the supply of oxygen for the respiration of aerobic bacteria.

The simplest solution is a ventilation pipe. With its help, the aeration of the septic tank, the removal of gases and the flow of fresh air into the structure are ensured. The pipe should be installed during installation, punch a hole in the concrete rings and bring it inside. The connection must be sealed, ventilation must be brought to a height of at least 50 centimeters above the ground.

Waterproofing for a septic tank
Waterproofing a septic tank is an important process on which its further operation depends. Its main goals are:

Prevention of groundwater penetration into the structure and its pollution.
Exclusion of leakage during operation, ingress of effluents into the soil.
Preventing the possibility of displacement of concrete rings.
Septic tanks can be sealed in several ways. Recently, the application of plaster under pressure is gaining popularity. Non-shrinking cement is sprayed with compressed air, it provides a complete seal. Two layers are superimposed using a special gun, their thickness can be up to 1 centimeter. It is necessary to withstand a certain break for the setting of the material, so the whole process can take about 10 days.

Sealing with bitumen is a fairly common solution. This is an inexpensive and affordable material, but it can break down and flake off over time, including during sudden temperature changes. For use, a mixture of gasoline and bitumen is prepared.

Sealing a wastewater treatment plant with a bituminous mixture

The first layer of hot bitumen should be applied with a compressor, the second and third with a brush. Then the surface is covered with a layer of mastic, waterproofing materials, including roofing material, are attached to the outer part.

Waterproofing concrete rings for a septic tank should include the processing of seams between the rings and junctions with pipes. You can use a special bentonite-rubber gasket, sealing tapes. Classical materials are widely used, including bituminous and silicone insulation, “liquid glass”, etc.

If you want to learn more how to fix any kind of septic tank issues easily click here

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