Septic Tank 101: Troubleshooting Foul Odors

21 May 2020
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The smell of sewage or sulfur from your indoor plumbing fixtures or out on your property should never be ignored. These odors indicate a problem with your septic tank. With proper troubleshooting, you can determine the cause of the problem and have it fixed by a septic service in your area.

1. Field Areas

It may seem okay to ignore sewer odors outdoors, especially if the smell seems to come and go. Unfortunately, sewage odors outside can indicate major issues with your septic system. If the smell comes from the location of the tank, you need to check the access cover to make sure it is sealed properly. If it is, then verify that the tank isn't full and due for pumping. Issues with leaks in the sewer lines can also cause odors. Odors from the drainfield can indicate issues with the field that need to be repaired, especially if there is standing water on the surface of the field.

2. Indoor Fixtures

Sewage odors should never come up through the drains in your home. If you occasionally hear gurgling in the drains or if you catch a whiff of sewer gas, you have an issue. In some cases, toilets may bubble and then produce the foul odor, particularly right after flushing. The issues could be something as simple as a clog in the sewer line, which can be cleared by a plumber.

Often, though, the issue is with an overly full septic tank. A septic service can inspect your tank to see if it is due for pumping. If so, then having the tank pumped and cleaned should solve the issue. Don't put off this task. Failure to pump a full tank will lead to more than sewer gas coming into your home—eventually the raw sewage itself will begin to back up the drain and into the house.

3. Around the House

Every home has plumbing vents. Most of these vents are up on the roof, although occasionally there may be vents on walls or near ground level. Venting is necessary to keep the flow of water and effluent through your pipes running properly. If a vent becomes blocked or otherwise compromised, then sewer gas can back up the vent and lead to lingering bad odors around the outside of your home. You will often catch the odor in passing. You may also notice poor drainage or slow-moving drains as a result of the poor venting. The vents need to be inspected and cleaned to remedy the problem.

Contact local sewer tank services for more help.