How to identify and fix septic tank blockages

Septic tank systems are important for waste disposal, especially in rural areas. If you experience a blocked septic tank, it's likely that the system is not being properly maintained. Septic tanks should be pumped out at least once every 2 years. This prevents debris from accumulating and the outlet field from becoming clogged.

A blocked septic tank will typically manifest itself within the home. You may find that your toilets are flushing poorly (or not flushing at all) or drainage sinks are getting backed up. But where should you start if you notice these signs? There are 3 main locations where septic tanks tend to become blocked.

A blockage between the main home drainage and the septic system

A common cause for blocked septic tanks is a blockage between the main drainage pipe of the home and the septic treatment system. This occurs due to items from the home clogging the pipes that lead into the septic tank. You will find that items such as hair, soap, grease and solid items tend to block drainage pipes over time.

To fix the blockage, the septic tank will need to be emptied and the drainage pipe from the home unclogged. If the pipe can be accessed without pumping out the septic tank, the unblocking process will be easier.

Blockage between the inlet and deflector

Another area where the septic tank can become blocked is between the inlet pipe (that leads to the septic tank) and the deflector. This blockage occurs due to a build-up of solid matter in the inlet pipe, which prevents waste from accessing the main area of the tank.

To unblock the inlet pipe, you need to access the tank and use a shovel to move solid debris away from the inlet. Once the debris is out of the way, the inlet pipe will resume regular flow into the tank. septic treatment systems may be necessary to remove large amounts of solid waste that have clogged the inlet pipe.

A blockage between the tank and the drainage field

A blocked septic system can also arise on the backend. This occurs when the flow of waste into the drainage field is blocked by either a clogged outlet pipe or blocked filters. Some septic systems contain filters that prevent solid matter from escaping into the drainage field and blocking the surrounding area. If these filters get clogged, they can cause a backup of the septic system as a whole.

To fix this backend blockage, make sure the filters are cleaned at least twice a year. You can also inspect the outlet pipe to ensure that solid waste is not stuck inside.