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Why Do Septic Tanks Back Up?

Septic tankIf you’ve experienced a drain clog in your home that seemingly can’t be remedied, a septic system backup might be a culprit. The symptoms are similar to those of a blocked sewer line. Below are the top six causes of septic tank blockages:

1. Tree roots

Tree roots can penetrate septic tanks and septic tank drain field pipes. Older clay pipes connecting the house to the septic tank may experience root intrusion at the connection points or at a pipe joint. The roots grow inside the pipe causing obstructions that debris gets caught on. As more and more wastewater flows through the pipe, the obstruction grows, limiting or cutting off water flow. When building your outdoor landscape, be vigilant about the location of your septic tank and avoid planting trees or large shrubs nearby. Stick to grasses and shallow-rooted perennials.

2. Garbage disposals

Homes with septic systems should not use a garbage disposal. If any debris is not fully broken down, the sludge can build up inside the pipe between the house and septic tank creating blockages, or sludge can accumulate more quickly in the tank itself requiring more frequent pumping.

3. Heavy machinery

Heavy equipment, including passenger vehicles, moving over a septic system can compress the earth below enough to damage pipes and tanks. Before beginning any construction projects, clearly mark the location of sewer lines and septic tanks.

4. Harsh chemicals

Natural bacteria play an important role in breaking down waste material in a septic system. Overloading the system by pouring harsh chemicals such as antifreeze, solvents, herbicides or pesticides down household drains can disrupt the bacterial balance. Moderate amounts of household cleaners and detergents are usually fine, but harsher chemicals should be taken to a hazardous waste facility for proper disposal.

5. Hydraulic overloading

Hydraulic overloading occurs when too much water rushes into the septic system at once, causing wastewater to back up into your drains. Space out high-volume activities like laundry, showering and running the dishwasher. Check the home for leaks and replace aging fixtures with new water-saving ones. Also, remember that unusually wet weather can contribute to hydraulic overloading.

6. Non-flushable solids

Many of the personal hygiene products we use every day are not flushable. Paper towels, facial tissues, feminine products, condoms, baby wipes and cleansing towelettes are not safe for septic systems. In fact, many “flushable” wipes on the market still aren’t safe for septic systems. Only toilet paper marked “septic safe” should be flushed.

Parents, beware: if your kids like to discover whether their toys can swim, consider installing toilet seat locks as well as sink strainers to avoid a potentially costly clog (and a broken heart when that toy is gone forever).

Roto-Rooter technicians and plumbers are fully trained in the use of state-of-the-art equipment and technologies to solve all of your plumbing and drain problems, including sewer repair and sewer line replacement. Many of our locations also install and service septic systems.

To schedule any of our Roto-Rooter outdoor plumbing services, including sewer line repair and others like outdoor faucet repair, call 800-768-6911 or book online. We can also help you keep your plumbing system up to snuff with our outside plumbing tips.

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