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Indication of Septic Failure

The ground around the septic tank or over the leaching bed may be soggy or

spongy to walk on.

Toilets, showers and sinks may back up or may take longer than usual to drain.

Occasional sewage odours may become noticeable, particularly after a rainfall.

Gray or black liquids may be surfacing in your yard or backing up through fixtures

into the house.

E. coli or fecal coliform indicator bacteria may be found in nearby well water or in

a surface ditch close

to the leaching bed.

Wastewater is ponding in the distribution lines — inspection should be conducted

by a qualified practitioner or an engineer.

The water level in the septic tank is higher than the outlet pipe (this indicates that

the water is ponding in the distribution lines) — inspection should be conducted by a

qualified practitioner.

Do’s and Don’t’s

Do have the septic tank and pump tank pumped by a licensed septic tank pumper

every 3-5 years or more frequently.

Do keep your tank readily accessible by installing “risers”

Do maintain your septic system effectively

Never inspect or pump out a septic tank yourself. There is no oxygen in the tank

for you to breathe and the tank contains deadly gases which can kill you in only a

few seconds.

You should avoid putting anything into the septic system that doesn’t break down

naturally or anything that takes a long time to break down. Small amounts of paints,

solvents, thinners, nail polish remover and other common household compounds

flushed or poured down the drain can kill the bacteria that break down the organic

matter in the wastewater.

Household disinfectants such as laundry bleach or toilet bowl cleaner can be used in

moderation without affecting the operation of the septic system; however, overuse of

disinfectants can kill the bacteria in a septic tank.

Some manufacturers promote the use of septic tank “cleaners”, “starters” or “enhancers”

to aidin the digestion of the waste. These products are typically of little value and are not


For further reading on septic systems & maintenance please visit these

reputable links:


© 2010 Van Isle Septic Systems Inc.