Maintaining a Safe Septic System

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How Can I Monitor My Septic Tank?

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A septic tank service should come out to your home on a regular basis to check for issues and to potentially empty your tank. But there are also things that you can do in the interim to make sure that the tank is working properly.

Take Steps for Safety

Before discussing ways to monitor your tank, it's important to know what not to do. For instance, you should never lean over the tank or stick your head inside to see the conditions. Doing so puts you at risk of being overwhelmed by gases and potentially falling into the tank. It's best to confine your inspection to the exterior of the tank. 

Look for Depressions in the Soil

The first thing to look for in your visual inspection is the presence of any new indentations in the soil. If you notice that the soil around your septic tank is sinking, this is a sign that the area isn't stable enough to support the weight of the septic tank. This is an especially common issue for homeowners that live in an area where high amounts of clay are present in the soil. If the septic tank is sinking, you risk having the ground collapse and potentially spilling waste from your septic tank. If you see depressions in the soil around your tank, call in a septic-tank service to see if the tank should be moved. 

Look for Evidence of Leaking

Another thing that you can quickly see with a visual inspection is septic tank leaks. The grassy area around the tank may be a different color, for instance. A classic appearance is a ring of discolored grass or cement around your septic tank. A leak can be a potential health hazard if waste gets into your air or soil and releases bacteria, so call an inspector to check the integrity of your tank and drain field.

Unusually High or Low Levels

You can also use tools to measure the levels of fluids and solids in the tank. While a septic tank professional can do this in depth with a probing camera, you can also do a basic inspection yourself by using a probing rod to measure levels of sludge and fluid. Unusually high levels of septic waste may mean that you need to have the tank emptied sooner than scheduled, and low levels are a potential sign of a leak. Either way, this warrants some further inspection by a septic-tank service.