Why Your Septic System Still Seems to Back Up Even Though You're Careful

Posted on: 1 September 2016

Having a septic system means having to be a little more careful about what goes into the system. If you've recently started using a septic system for the first time, it may take some adjustment to fully get used to life off the city sewer system. Most of the changes really aren't that drastic, but sometimes it's the smaller things that can cause a big mess.


A simple rainstorm doesn't seem like it should affect your septic tank, but it can if the rain is heavy or the drainage in your yard is misdirected. While you have a leach field where the water released from the septic tank goes, that field can handle only so much moisture. If the field is already soaked from rain, the water in the tank isn't going to be able to push its way out into the field; it'll stay in the tank, and any other matter and liquid that tries to move into the tank (such as from a sink drain in your home) could back up into your house.

To solve this, have the tank cleaned out on a regular basis—more frequently if your area sees a lot of rain. Also check and see where rain runoff is going on your property. If the runoff from other parts of the property is ending up on the leach field, install drains (like French drains) to move the runoff down to parts of the land that are away from the field. You may also want to ask a landscaper to regrade or design your yard so that the rain naturally runs off away from the leach field, though this could be a big undertaking, depending on how your yard is currently laid out.

Wrong Toilet Paper

When you were in a home that used the city sewer system, you could grab almost any pack of toilet paper on the shelf and not worry about its effects on your plumbing. Now, though, you'll need to get a brand that's safe for septic tanks. Yes, that's why many brands have that little statement about being septic safe: there is a difference. The septic-safe brands will disintegrate a lot more easily and pose less of a clogging problem for the tank. Luckily, many brands are septic safe, so you won't have to search for a hard-to-find brand.

The Cleaners You Use

If you haven't already gone a little greener with your house-cleaning solutions, you may want to start. Harsh cleaning solutions can harm the bacteria in the septic tank. The bacteria break down the waste, and you don't want them to die. Avoid cleaning products that have any danger notices on their labels.

Surprisingly, bleach is not that bad in small amounts. HouseLogic reported on one study that said a septic system could handle a couple of gallons of bleach but only 1 teaspoon of a chemical drain cleaner. Try to go green (e.g., use baking soda and vinegar for your drains) as much as you can.

If you have further questions, contact a septic repair and cleaning company such as Southern Sanitary Systems Inc. They can inspect the tank and help you fix issues that may be affecting the tank's efficiency.