Septic Tank Problems – Understanding Why a Septic System Fails

The Causes of Septic Tank Problems Explained

In order to understand what causes septic tank problems you first need to understand how a septic tank works.

Knowing the functional purpose of each component of a septic system will give you a greater ability to determine the cause of your septic tank problems and how to maintain your system to prevent future issues.

Components of a septic system with a gravity fed drainfield
Components of a septic system with a gravity fed drainfield

Conventional septic systems operate in an anaerobic or oxygen-free environment, promoting the growth of a black, sludge-like layer called the biomat in the drain field.

“Biomat” is an impermeable black, slimy living organic layer consisting of anaerobic bacteria and organic matter that slowly grows overtime in your septic tank drain field.

The “Drain field” is the area of soil in which the contents of a septic tank are absorbed. “Drain field” is a generic term that refers to many types of system components such as: gravity fed and pressurized drain fields, mounds, trenches, cesspools, seepage pits, drywells and lagoons.

Without proper maintenance an anaerobic septic system will eventually fail due to one of the following causes:

 

  • Mechanical Failures including the collapse of an underground pipe, blockage from tree roots or deterioration of the plumbing system. The minority of failures fall into this category and are generally resolved by hiring a plumber or contractor to replace the damaged components.
  • Anaerobic bacterial environment in the septic tank: the inadequate anaerobic biochemical processing can cause system backups, septic tank overflow, sewage ponding in the yard and septic odor. The vast majority of system failures fall into this category.

Septic System Problems Commonly Occur in the Drain Field

Anaerobic system failures almost always occur in the drain field, but the root cause of system failures can be found in the septic tank and in the marginal efficiency of the anaerobic bacteria.

 

Here is a breakdown of the process:

Over time, an anaerobic septic tank allows enough unprocessed organic waste and anaerobic bacteria to flow into the drain field that a biomat begins to form.

biomat-2a2
Start of biomat growth in anaerobic septic system drainfield

The biomat grows at the outer boundaries of the drain field, clogging the pores of the soil intended to allow water to pass back into the ground soil. Biomat grows at a slow, but consistent rate. First across the bottom and eventually up the sidewalls of the drain field.

biomat-3a
Biomat growth progressing along bottom and sides of drainfield

The biomat eventually grows to completely cover all of the outer surfaces of the drain field. At this point, incoming wastewater has no place to go and collects in the drain field.

Incoming wastewater flowing into the drain field continually carries more organic solids that the biomat uses as a food source to live and grow. As this happens, the homeowner will start to notice slow flowing and gurgling drains.

biomat-4a
Biomat sealing anaerobic septic system drainfield

When the septic system fails wastewater continues to build up, high water levels in septic tank and ponding in the drain field start to occur.

ponding-2
Drainfield filled with wastewater

Effects of a Failed Septic System

When uncontrolled biomat growth backs up your drain field you will encounter problems such as extremely high wastewater levels in your septic tank and even “ponding”where the waste water has rose to the surface of your yard. You may also notice sewage backup in your house’s plumbing system.

Septic Tank Overflowing
Septic Tank Overflowing
Failed septic system flooding yard
Sewage collecting on ground above drainfield

Controlled Septic Aeration Will Solve Your Septic Tank Problems

Anaerobic septic system failure can be prevented and reversed by converting the septic tank to an aerobic environment.

Aerobic bacteria are dramatically more efficient at breaking down organic waste. Consequently, the wastewater leaving the septic tank is cleaner, greatly reducing the food source for a biomat living in a drain field. As a result, biomats can not live in an aerobic septic system. They are gradually starved and consumed by aerobic bacteria – Click here to learn more.

Aero-Stream® has been extraordinarily successful in executing controlled septic aeration conversions of anaerobic septic systems to aerobic systems, extending the life of existing systems and saving homeowners thousands of dollars in the process.

Aero-Stream® pioneered the conversion of septic tanks to a aerobic environment through controlled septic aeration. We have the most experience in the world in this field. Our patented septic aeration systems have superior performance that cannot be matched. Our patented Bio-Brush improves the treatment process by more than 30% as compared to septic aeration alone.

As thousands of other customers have found, our products are superior in Quality, Performance and Durability. Our customer reviews authenticate that our technical expertise and customer support are unmatched in the industry. Trust only the experts with over 15 years of experience in septic aeration!


The Septic System Owners Manual

Nobody plans for the expense of having septic tank problems. Whether your septic system is new or failing, this manual is a must read for any homeowner.
Understand the causes and discover the controlled septic aeration solution to your septic system and septic tank problems.