What can cause a septic system to fail?


Septic systems are designed to handle thousands of gallons of wastewater a year efficiently and effectively. They are extremely durable, and problem-free when used and maintained correctly. Septic systems last many years, and when and if they fail, it is generally because of extreme age, misuse, or neglect. With the newer and more increasingly complex septic systems now available, however, and the addition of pumps and machinery, there are more opportunities for things to go wrong.


Here are the main culprits in septic system failure:

⦁    The original septic system wasn’t installed properly, or not installed according to local building codes (usually only happens with very old systems as all states now have stringent requirements around septic system installations).
⦁    The incorrect kind or type of septic tank and/or septic system for the home was installed.
⦁    The septic system was installed in a poor site on the property, and/or the soil has poor drainage.
⦁    Putting inorganic objects and material down the drains, including:
⦁    diapers
⦁    towlettes or wipes
⦁    feminine hygiene products
⦁    paper other than toilet paper
⦁    cigarettes
⦁    dental floss
⦁    rubberized items, bandaids, condoms, etc.
⦁    coffee grounds
⦁    food scraps
⦁    grease
⦁    Improper use of garbage disposals.
⦁    Using harsh and/or toxic chemicals and allowing them to go down the drain or be flushed down the toilet.
⦁    If there is a pump system, there may be mechanical or electrical failure
⦁    Leaks and/or inefficient appliances can send an unnecessary amount of water into the septic system, overloading it.
⦁    Hot tubs and swimming pools, if not properly maintained and drained, can overwhelm a septic system.
⦁    The system has been poorly maintained; too long between pumpings and/or inspections.
⦁    Immoderate water usage, and/or more people are in residence than the system can handle, so that too much wastewater is entering the system in too short a span of time.
⦁    Extremely wet weather conditions for a long period of time, causing the soil in the drainfield to become saturated so it cannot process and disperse the effluent.
⦁    The drainfield has been compromised or clogged by roots from trees and/or landscaping that was planted too close to the system.
⦁    The drainfield has been driven over or used as a parking pad

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