Septic systems are designed to provide long-term, effective treatment of household waste when operated and maintained properly. However, most systems that fail prematurely are due to improper maintenance. Less serious problems often stem from plumbing issues, such as pipe blockages due to tree roots growing into the pipe. In some cases, the septic tank can begin to deteriorate over time or have other structural problems. The most serious problems are the result of a clogged leach/drain field. Unfortunately, this is the most expensive to repair. Once the absorption field is clogged, it must be replaced and can cost thousands of dollars.
Typically when a septic system fails, the leach/drain field is not functioning properly. When a septic tank overflows, the effluent can pass to the leech/drain field, clogging up the drain pipes. This causes sinks and toilets to back up in the house. Other signs can often include: slow draining toilets or drain pipes, an odor of sewage, wet area on or near the leach/drain field, or contaminated well water.
Maintenance! Once your system has been properly designed and installed, it’s up to you! Have your system regularly pumped and inspected by one Gulliford Septic and Sewer‘s technicians (typically every 3-5 years), avoid excessive water use and WATCH WHAT YOU PUT DOWN THE DRAIN AND/OR YOUR TOILETS! And feel free to shoot us an email with any maintenance questions.
If it’s not human waste or toilet paper – it’s probably not a good idea. Avoid flushing dental floss, cat litter, hair, Kleenex, cigarette butts, cotton swabs, feminine hygiene products, paper towels, dryer sheets, diapers and disposable wipes (yes, EVEN THE “FLUSHABLE” kind). These items could clog your septic system components and cause a failure.
If you have multiple plumbing fixures backing up – toilets, shower drains, washing machines, etc. – you most likely have a clogged sewer drain.
Toilets have the most direct path to the sewer – along with the largest drain line – and you will most likely notice blockage here first. Check your sinks and showers upon noticing the toilets not draining correctly, and if they are also blocked or slow draining, a sewer line clog could be the culprit.
A sewer clean out is a pipe with a cap that provides access to the sewer line so that blockages can be removed. It is often ground zero for accessing – and removing – sewer line clogs. Unfortunately, not all houses have clean outs – and not all clean outs are in the same location. Call (217) 337-5996 to speak with a Gulliford Septic and Sewer technician, and many times they can walk you through locating your clean out over the phone.
To locate your sewer clean out, start by looking for a cap in your front yard. Make sure to look under and behind any landscaping close to the walls of your house. Next, look on the sides of the house – particularly where the bathrooms are. Lastly, look inside the house near or behind the toilets. It’s rare, but some houses have an inside clean out.
If you can’t locate or don’t have a clean out, your clog may be more labor-intensive to clear, so you may consider having one installed to help prevent future issues.
Watch what you flush and drain! – Solid objects that are flushed down the toilet – paper towels, diapers, feminine products, etc. – can become lodged and help accelerate a sewer line stoppage. Also, excessive food, oils or grease washed down the kitchen drain can contribute to sewer line clogs. You may also consider having a backwater prevention valve installed to prevent sewer backflows.