Septic System Failure – What to Expect

A septic system is considered to be “failing” when it fails to treat and distribute wastewater effectively and fails to prevent biological and nutrient contamination of your drinking water well and nearby lakes and streams. A septic system failure causes untreated sewage to be released and transported to where it shouldn’t be. Failure may cause sewage to rise to the surface of the ground around the tank or the drain field or to back up in pipes in the building. The sewage could also find its way into groundwater, surface water, or marine water without seeing it. The sewage carries pathogens and other dangerous contaminants. Exposure to these pathogens and contaminants can make people and animals sick. They can also contaminate water sources and make them unsafe for drinking, swimming, and agricultural uses.

The septic system can fail when any part of the system is not operating properly, although it is often the absorption area that cannot function. The most serious effect of a failing system is the spread of serious disease from untreated wastewater. Mosquitoes and flies that spread infectious diseases can breed in areas where wastewater reaches the surface. Replacing your entire septic system could cost $5,000-$15,000 or more. Regular maintenance and protection of your septic system are much less expensive than replacing the drain field or entire system.

Please note most septic systems will fail eventually. Septic systems are designed to have a useful life of 20 to 30 years under the best conditions. Older septic tanks with concrete or metal parts degrade over time. Eventually, the soil in the drain field becomes clogged with organic material. Many additional factors can cause the system to fail well before the end of its “natural” lifespan. Soil saturated by high water tables, pipes blocked by roots, crushed distribution pipes, improper location, poor installation, or poor original design can all lead to major problems.

The most common reasons for early failure are misuse or inadequate maintenance by homeowners. When a system is not pumped regularly, solids build up in the septic tank, then flow into the drain field and clog it.

Pro Rooter and Septic is the Central Valley’s preferred professional for all septic services; septic tank installation, pumping, abandonment, repairs, escrow inspections, and drain field installation or repair.