On Call Services What Causes a Septic Tank to Back Up

What Causes a Septic Tank to Back Up and How A Septic Pump-Out Could Help

Nobody ever wants to think about their septic tank backing up, but unfortunately it can happen to anyone – and you need to know what causes it and how to handle it.


Why is Your Septic Backed Up?

The first thing to consider when dealing with a backup is determining whether it’s the septic tank itself or a clog in the plumbing lines.

On many occasions we have turned out to pump a septic tank, but the backup is still there after the fact due to a clogged line. Here are some common septic clogs that lead to backups:

Tree Roots

On Call Services common septic clogs system damage causes include Tree Roots

One of the most common clogs we encounter in this business is tree roots that have grown into the system. Most folks love a large shade tree in their yard, but that beauty comes with it also comes with a threat.

A tree’s root system is significantly larger than its branches, and those roots will spread all throughout your yard looking for water. If a tree root finds the tiniest crack in your drainage system, it’ll send a tiny hair-thin root into the crack, where it’ll then grow and multiply. Eventually this will clog, then burst the pipe.

Water-jetting can help flush out those smaller roots, or a mechanical auger will work as well. After cutting out the roots, the living ends will need to be treated with a root-killing chemical to prevent reinfestation. If the area is too heavily infested and the pipe is too damaged, the whole pipe may need to be replaced.


On Call Services common system damage causes include Greese

Grease is another frequent clogging problem. You should never ever pour grease down a sink! As soon as grease meets water, it’ll coagulate and harden, clogging your pipes and backing up your septic.

Other Clogging Problems

Some of these may sound silly to you, but we’ve encountered them. Please never flush your:

  • False teeth
  • Sunglasses 
  • Baby wipes
  • Sanitary napkins and feminine hygiene products
  • Condoms
  • Bleach
  • Large quantities of antibacterial soaps

Improper Plumbing Installations

It’s tempting to try and DIY your plumbing to save money, but the pros are the pros for a reason. Novice plumbers make mistakes, and insufficient drop in the piping can cause the water to flush slowly. Solids can settle in the bottom of the pipe, and buildup can occur.

Effluent Filters on the Outlet of Your System.

Effluent filters are designed to protect your leach field from overload by keeping all solids within the septic tank and only allowing water to exit. However, these filters require regular cleaning and maintenance. If you don’t stay on top of their maintenance, they’ll eventually cause backup.

Excessive Rain or Fooding

If your groundwater and surface water aren’t properly diverted away from your septic tank and drain field, excessive rainy seasons can cause backup. French drains and other water-diversion systems can help protect your septic system from stormwater.

What to do After Your Septic Pump-Out

On Call Services Effluent Filters on the Outlet of Your System

There’s no need to add anything to your septic tank after pumping. Human waste and kitchen waste are full of enzymes and bacteria that are more than enough to break down the residential waste that comes from your home. 

There’s no reason to spend money on additives after a routine pump-out – just save that money for your next septic tank pumping! You should pump your system every three to five years.

That’s not to say there’s NEVER a reason for additives, however. Here are a few situations where additives may be beneficial:

  • Customers who are undergoing chemotherapy have experienced adverse effects on their septic tanks due to chemo-killing bacteria in the tanks.
  • If you’ve flushed an abnormal amount of bleach or clorox while cleaning, that can harm your tank’s bacteria.

BioClean is a great powder-form bacteria product that activates when it’s added to liquid. This can supplement the existing bacteria in your tank.

Leach fields can also become clogged from overuse. We can break up these solids with a hydro-jetting machine, then we’ll flush them with clean water and BioClean to help break down the remaining solids. 

To sum up, typically the best thing to do after a septic pump-out is to simply flush your toilet. If you need to schedule a septic tank cleaning, septic pumping, or septic inspection, don’t hesitate to call On Call Services at any time.

Here are some awesome videos to help you better understand your septic system: