Septic System Odors

The causes of Foul Smells from your Septic Tank

Homeowners, with septic tank systems on site, often encounter problems relating to foul smells excreting from the tank. Although this is somewhat inevitable, some simple steps can be taken in order to reduce the likelihood of this occurring, and the extremity of the smells. However, it is important that homeowners are aware of the dangers posed by these smells. Gases excreting from septic tank sewage systems contain carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and methane which can be extremely harmful if they enter the home. These gases can be toxic and can result in explosions.

Areas Where Gases Can Become Problematic

Odors in the Home

Not only are septic tank smells in the home irritating, but they are also extremely harmful. The most common cause of excreting odors from a septic tank is that the tank is full and needs to be emptied. A key indicator is hearing gargling sounds from your sink. Having your septic tank emptied will prevent these harmful smells from entering the home through toilets and sinks. It is also advised to inspect the manhole cover of your drains in order to ensure that they are tightly secured. Manhole covers which are not fitted adequately, can result in sewer gases escaping into the home. Another explanation could be that the plumbing vent in your roof is not functioning properly. It is important to allow drainpipes to level as wastewater flows through, as without this vent, toilets and sinks could dry out and excrete odors into your home. In cold weather, these plumbing vents can also freeze shut or become clogged with leaves. It is therefore important to perform regular checks to ensure that this vent is functioning as intended. A final common cause of odors entering the home is due to septic tank failure. Septic tank systems can fail as a result of poor installation, poor waste disposal and poor maintenance practices. Odors and gases can then be blown from the tank into the home.

Odors in the Garden

If you garden begins to strongly smell of septic tank odor, this may be an indication that the plumbing vent pipe needs to be extended. In most cases, wind successfully carries odors away from the home; however, depending on where you live, a carbon filter may be required. Carbon filters are added to the top of the plumbing vent in order to help regulate the odors from the septic tank. It is advised to change this filter every 1 to 5 years.

Odors Surrounding the Septic Tank

Weak smelling odors surrounding a septic tank is completely normal. However, overpowering odors indicate an issue. Firstly, it is important to ensure that all manholes are tightly fastened so that no odors can be excreted. If you own a newer manhole, the lid should be plastic rather than metal. The rubber seal on these plastic lids prevents odors from escaping. Septic tank manholes are generally covered with up to 12 inches of soil.

Odors Surrounding the Soil Treatment Unit

If you are experiencing odors surrounding a drain or mound, this indicates a particular problem with this element of your drainage system. It is advised to check all pipes in order to ensure that they are covered and that they are not faulty or broken. A visual inspection should be carried out in order to identify any spongy, wet soil areas. These areas would indicate that sewage waste is reaching the surface. If this is the case, this should be corrected immediately as this poses a threat to human and animal health.

Odors Surrounding a Pre-Treatment Unit

The most common types of pre-treatment units installed onsite are aerobic units, peat, wetlands or soak pits and textile filters. If you think that odors are escaping from any of these units, it is advised to contact a professional and competent environmental cleaning company immediately.

Have you experienced problems with your septic tank system?

If you have encountered a problem with your septic tank system and have found a way to resolve the issue, please let us know so we can share with the other homeowners.