A well-running septic system requires very little day-to-day thought. The problem is that when something does go wrong, it can have immediate effects. Fortunately, there are usually symptoms of an impending problem if you know what to look for. Certain odors are one such sign. The following guide can help you follow your nose to root out the problem before it becomes too severe.
Issue: Rotten egg or sewer-gas odor near the drain field
The cause is likely a leaking or overfilled septic tank. If the tank needs to be emptied, the excess sewage will leak into the drain field before it has a chance to properly pass through the system. This results in sewage coming to the top of the drain field prematurely. You may also notice that the drain field has become overly wet.
You will need to bring in a septic-tank cleaning contractor to clean out the tank, and this will usually solve the issue. If the tank isn't full, the contractor will identify any blockages or similar issues that could be causing the overflow.
Issue: Odors in seldom-used rooms
Sewer-gas odors in rooms with plumbing that are rarely used, such as a guest bathroom, are often the result of a dry drain. All drains have a trap in them that prevents sewer gas from coming up from the septic tank. These traps work by keeping a small amount of water in them that acts to block the gas coming through the pipe. If a drain is rarely used, this water can evaporate, and then you will have nothing to block the gas.
The fix is simple—run some water down the drain. You will need to do this periodically, perhaps each time you clean the house, to prevent it from happening again.
Issue: Odors from all drains
A pervasive odor that comes from all, or nearly all, of the drains in the home can indicate one of two issues. A full tank can lead minor backups in the sewer lines, and that can cause the gasses to seep back through the drains. Often sewage may even back up through an adjacent drain when you are trying to run water through a different one when this is the case. Emptying the tank can solve the issue.
Another cause could be a clog in the main sewer line. This is likely the case if the drains are emptying slowly. Having the sewer line cleaned out should solve the problem.
For more help, contact a septic-system contractor such as Martin Septic Service Inc in your area.