Septic System Odors and Treatments

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Septic Tank System Odors and Treatments

This article is designed to help the reader locate and cure septic system odors and smells, whether they are originating from a septic tank and drain field or a city sewer system. This article will focus on just a few of the many types of different septic systems available on the market today. Because gas originating from a sewer source contains methane gas and hydrogen sulfide, it is important to focus in on the source and correct the problem immediately. These gases can be toxic and may be a hazardous to your health and in some cases fatal to humans and pets.

Because of the practicality of running sewer line for miles out of city limits, rural areas of the U.S. are typically forced to use some kind of septic system other than a city sewer water waste water treatment facility. There are several different types of systems available on the market today. The more common and practical system is the septic tank and drain field that is comprise of a septic tank that will catch the waste water from the house and also where the digestion takes place. The digested waste water commonly referred to as effluent is then leached back into the ground through the drain field where it under goes further filtering through the soil before it returns to the water table. In the north eastern part of the U.S. a system referred to as a cesspool or cesspit is more common and practical. These systems are typically used where city sewer is not available.

Septic Tank Pumping can always present an odor problem if not performed on a regular basis. The average family with a three bedroom house will require a septic tank pump out every 3 years or so depending on the amount of house hold waste and water usage. The purpose of pumping out a septic tank is to ensure that the solid waste do not enter the drain field, form a bio mat and clog up the drain field system. In a health septic tank system, there should be minimal solids if the digestion process is taking place. Coli form of bacteria produced by the human body works with the nutrients in the system breaking down the solids and creating the digestion process. Anti bacterial hand soaps and house hold cleaners can kill off health coli form bacteria causing the system to fail and causing a bio mat build up. Consider a bacterial septic tank additive as part of you maintenance program. Adding beneficial bacteria to your septic tank and drain field may extend the life of your septic tank, giving you years of virtually maintenance free service.

Dry drains in your home can also be the cause of septic odors. This is a common problem in homes where sinks and drains are not used on a regular basis. Most drains are fitted with a “P trap” or a “U” Shape pipe typically located under the sink. When the “P trap” or “U” shaped pipe is filled with water it works as a check valve preventing toxic gases from entering the home, if this pipe becomes dry it will allow the gas to enter the home. In the event you experience sewer odors, check all sinks and floor drains to ensure this the source of your odor.

Faulty Seals and Gaskets can leak sewage waste and also be a cause of septic odors. Older homes where the gaskets have become brittle and dry rotted. This may be the source of odors and gas entering into your home. Always be on the lookout for leaking pipes and odors especially in basements and crawl spaces.

Septic system vent stack located on the top of our homes can become clogged with leaves and cause toxic septic gas to back up into the house causing odors to build up. You can also experience septic odors outside your home if you are near the vent stack. Odors coming from a vent stack outside your home may indicate that your system is functioning as it should.

Septic system odors should be addressed immediately. Leaking pipes and drains can cause not only odors but toxic build up and be a serious hazard to humans and pets. Septic odors and leaking pipes can result in water damage causing expensive repairs. If you experience septic odors or a septic water leak, call a professional plumber immediately. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

By: Bradley Skierkowski