Common Septic Tank Problems

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If you are someone with a septic system, have you ever walked outside, stood in your yard, and thought about the tank and greater septic system that lies beneath your feet? There's more to this system than you might know. It's not just a septic tank. It's a system of pipes that carry waste water away from the tank, and it's also a drainfield, made from soil. The next time you call a septic service to care for your tank, watch them work and ask questions. Also, make sure you spend some time reading this blog to become more aware of the basics.


Common Septic Tank Problems

2 May 2023
 Categories: , Blog

The septic tank, an integral part of your septic system, can malfunction and interfere with the entire system's performance. Below are issues that might plague your septic tank.

Floating Tank

Pressure from the surrounding ground can push the septic tank out of the ground. For example, pressure from underground water or earth movements can push out an empty septic tank. That risk means you should not pump your septic tank when the ground is flooded. That would lighten the tank and increase its risk of floating out of the ground.

Two problems arise if a septic tank floats out of the ground. First, the tank movement can damage the inlet and outlet connections. The damage can spill waste and pollute the environment. Secondly, the floating ruins the inlet and outlet pipe slopes, interfering with the waste flow.

Cracked Tank

Different issues can crack septic tanks. Examples include:

  • Shifting sands
  • Wear and tear
  • Expansion and contraction due to freezing and thaw cycles

Some tank materials, such as concrete, are more prone to cracking than others. A cracked septic tank leaks untreated waste into the ground, creating a health hazard. Groundwater can also squeeze into the tank, filling it quickly, reducing its capacity, and lowering waste treatment efficiency.

Collapsed or Crushed Tank

Different parts of the tank can collapse if pressure overwhelms them. For example, the tank lid or walls can crush if you operate heavy machinery over the tank's location. The pressure can also crush the following:

  • The baffles or dip pipe that divides the tank and guides wastewater flowing out of the tank
  • The inlet and outlet pipe that channel waste into and out of the tank, respectively
  • The risers that contractors use to service and pump the septic tank

The effects depend on the affected tank part. For example, a crushed riser means contractors cannot pump the tank without repairing the riser. Collapsed walls reduce the tank's internal volume and, with it, the waste capacity.


Waste takes time to decompose in the tank. Septic contractors size tanks to handle the expected waste from the house, depending on the household size and water usage habits, among other factors. However, you can easily overfill the tank if you force it to handle more waste than the contractor designed.

For example, you can overfill the tank if you frequently entertain guests, extend your home and increase your household size, or install additional water appliances. An overflowing tank will send untreated wastes, including solid waste, into the drainfield. The waste can also back up into your house.

For more information, contact a local company that offers septic system services.