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Serving Santa Cruz, Watsonville
Soquel and Surrounding Areas
Serving Santa Cruz, Watsonville
Soquel and Surrounding Areas

Is That Sewage Smell Your Septic Tank Backing Up?

The smell of sewage is never a good thing, but it can be especially disturbing when the smell is coming from your own septic tank. As a homeowner, it's important to be able to identify the cause and know what to do about the problem. 

The location of a sewage smell can be a big clue about its source. Sewage odors in the home are very different from sewage odors outside the home. You handle each problem very differently. 

Sewage Odors in the Yard

Before you can understand what might cause sewage odors in the yard, you'll need to understand how a septic tank works. A septic tank is a large underground tank that holds wastewater. When the wastewater reaches a certain level in the tank, it drains into a portion of the yard called the drain field.

Wastewater in the drain field is supposed to filter down through the soil into the groundwater. The soil cleans the water so that when it reaches the groundwater supply, it's safe. 

If the drain field clogs, the ground above the drain field may become saturated with raw sewage. Drain field clogs can happen for a variety of reasons. Bits of solid waste from the tank can flow into the drain field pipe, causing it to back up and malfunction. Other times, ground compaction or improper tank installation can be the cause.

When this happens, the ground around the drain field can become swampy. The smell comes from the water at and just below the surface of the soil. Often when this happens, homeowners may also notice that the grass around the drain field is especially green and lush. 

This is a serious problem that must be fixed by a septic tank repair professional. If you've noticed the smell of sewage in your yard, contact a septic tank repair person as soon as possible.

Sewage Smells Inside the Home

Sometimes it's the interior of the home that smells like a sewer, not the exterior. A completely different, easy-to-fix problem is often the cause in this case. To understand, you'll need to know how drains work. 

Most drains contain a bendy section of pipe called a P-trap. The P-trap holds water that refreshes every time the drain is used. This water creates an air-tight seal in the pipes that prevents gas from the septic tank from filling the home. If you don't use a drain often enough, the water in the P-trap can evaporate, and gas from the septic tank can enter the home.

This is often a problem that people experience when they don't use the guest bathroom frequently enough. To fix this problem, pour water down all the drains and flush all the toilets in the house. Air out the smell by opening the windows, running the fans, turning on air vents, and running the HVAC system. 

To prevent this problem from happening in the future, set up a schedule to use all the drains in the house on a periodic basis. If doing this doesn't fix the problem, it's possible that a decomposing clog has caused the odor in your home. Check for any slow drains in the house and contact a plumber if necessary. 

Have More Questions about Septic Tank Odors? Contact a Professional

Some odors can be indicative of a serious problem; others are not. Knowing the difference can help you take care of your home's septic tank and plumbing. If you have questions about septic tank smells in or around your home, contact a reputable professional in your area. 

At Pete's Outflow Technicians, we're happy to answer client questions about septic tanks and septic tank smells, so contact us today. ‚Äč