As a self-contained underground wastewater treatment system, a septic tank is quite an efficient system for disposing household wastewater. However, it can get blocked, which can cause some problems for you such as slow drains, pooling of water, slow flushing toilets and unpleasant odour from the drains.
Fortunately, a blocked septic tank can be unclogged most of the times. In this article, we show you how to unclog your septic tank and what to do to prevent further clogging in the future.
Diagnosing a blocked septic tank
Your septic tank can clog up because of many reasons. That is why is diagnosing your septic tank is vital before you fix the problem.
Your most recommended option is to let a professional inspect your septic tank. Most likely they will use a scope—a camera attached to a flexible pole—to inspect the problem. This will help them determine if there is any damage to the septic tank or if there is a blockage.
How to unclog a septic tank
If your septic tank is clogged, you should not attempt to unclog it if you don’t have the right tools or have minimal training. It’s always best to call a professional to fix the problem.
Here are a few things you can do to unclog your septic tank:
Determine the blockage
After diagnosing your clogged septic tank, you will be able to determine what the blockage is.
Start by looking for visible clogs inside your septic tank so that you can clear it. You can do this by lifting the access lid off the tank and looking at the inlet baffle to check if anything is blocking it.
If the water is below the inlet pipe, then the blockage maybe between the tank and your property. However, if the water level is above the inlet and you don’t see a blockage, then the problem may be in the septic drain field.
Clear the scum
The scum is the layer of solid waste that builds up near the top of the septic tank. Sometimes the scum can block the inlet pipe. Use a long piece of metal to move all the scum away from the inlet so that the water fills up the tank.
If the clog is deeper, then probe the metal stick further into the pipe to scrape the sides of the pipe and pull the waste into the tank. This should help break apart the blockage and let water flow into the tank.
If the blockage is deeper, you may need to use a mechanical auger, which is a long stiff cable with a pointed and twisted end, to reach deeper into the pipe. If this does not work, you should call a plumber.
Close the septic tank
If the clog is fixed, put back the access lid. Slowly move the lid back to cover the hole and make sure it doesn’t move around. Never leave the septic tank open if you’re not working on it.
Clearing blockage with bacteria
Bacteria will grow in your tank naturally because of the solid waste entering the system. These beneficial bacteria feed on solid waste and convert it into liquids and gases which can safely be removed into the drain field.
However, when there aren’t enough bacteria and microbes, your septic tank can clog up and/or overflow.
To combat a blockage in your septic tank, you can add the correct type of bacteria into your tank. Use the recommended dose and let the bacteria do its job. Adding regular bacteria can also prevent future blockages.
How to prevent septic tank clogging
Septic tank clogs can occur because of several reasons. However, you can take some steps to reduce and prevent clogging.
- Maintain your septic tank regularly and pump it every three to five years. Talk to a professional who can help you with septic tank pumping and maintenance.
- Avoid using or rinsing your drain with harsh chemical cleaners as it can kill the natural bacteria.
- Make sure you only allow water and natural waste to go down the drains. Anything else like paper towels, wet wipes, food scrapes, oils and fat, chemicals, paint, and other stuff can block the pipes and the septic tank.
- Avoid using too much water as it can overload your septic tank, and it won’t drain properly. The excessive water will not allow solid waste to settle and can reduce bacterial activity, which then increases the risk of solids clogging the drain field, including the septic system breaking down, and other issues.