Finding Solutions for Your Septic Tank Problems

What To Do When Your Septic Tank Is Overflowing Into Your Yard

by Senanur Norder

Have you noticed puddles of smelly water in your yard near your septic leech field? Unfortunately, this means your septic tank is overflowing. Take a deep breath -- the situation's not as bad as it sounds. All you need to do to remedy the problem is follow these steps:

Step 1: Stop using water.

At this point, the more water you discharge into the tank, the more is going to leak out. So stop using the water in your home completely if possible, or at least severely limit your use to essentials. Shower at a friend's house, do laundry at the laundromat, avoid washing dishes, and flush that toilet once or twice a day until everything's sorted out.

Step 2: Assess the cause of the overflow.

A septic overflow is not always a sign that something is wrong with your septic tank. The tank only has a certain capacity. If it gets flooded with too much water at once, it will overflow -- even if it's in perfect condition. So consider which of these possible causes may be to blame:

  • Too many people taking showers and otherwise using the water in a short period of time.
  • Heavy rains that have flooded your yard and caused water to leak from the leach field into the tank (there's no room left for water that comes through the pipes, so the tank overflows).
  • It has been a long time since you've had the tank pumped. It's now full of solid waste with little space left for liquids.

Step 3: Consider waiting it out.

If you have had the tank pumped in the last year or two and think the overflow may be due to rain or overuse of water, just wait it out. Keep your water use to a minimum for a few days while the tank drains into the leach field. If the problem does not resolve itself, you may have a clog or a leak in the tank itself, and you should call a septic pumping service.

If you have not had the tan pumped in a few years, the overflow is a sign that it's time to pump it out. A septic service can come remove the solid waste from the tank, leaving more room for liquids. Usually, septic tanks need to be pumped every three to five years, but if you have a garbage disposal, yearly pumping is recommended.

Until the problem is resolved, keep everyone out of the yard where the smelly water is accumulating. It could contain harmful bacteria from the raw sewage. If you accidentally touch this water, wash up immediately. Contact a company like Complete Septic Tank LLC for more information.