Your septic tank is still backing up after being pumped. We experienced this exact thing in the past. The pros came out and pumped, and we still had a problem.
We tried a dozen things, and nothing worked. In the end, a pro came back out and taught us some stuff that we want to share with you.
In this article, we’ll review the pumping process, what you can do to remedy your situation, and how to find the right pro (if you choose this path). To start, let’s review how the septic tank works.
How a Septic Tank Works
The first step to troubleshooting is understanding vaguely how your tank works. In simple terms, junk goes in, the solids break down and deteriorate, and the liquid goes out.
Everything you flush down your drains and toilets goes to your septic tank. Well, that’s the idea, at least. If there’s a blockage or obstruction, it won’t make it that far.
Your system is backing up because the drains don’t have a clear path to the septic tank.
Your sink, for example, feeds to your septic tank through a system of pipes and tubes. One large pipe combines all of your drains into one place before making its way to the septic tank.
The tank fills with solids and liquids. The solids will naturally break down over time, but the liquids won’t. That’s why the tank has sensors and pumps to get rid of liquids once they get to a certain level.
The liquids will drain underground and be soaked up by the soil. It’s as easy as that!
So this system seems pretty great, what’s the point of pumping it?
What Does Pumping a Septic Tank Do?
Pumping a septic tank does exactly what it sounds like. A pro will come out, assess the tank, and suck out material that won’t break down in the tank. Namely, the gunk and sludge that lingers in the tank.
By removing these, your tank will have more room for the solid waste that naturally decomposes and breaks down.
Some people might assume that the pros pump absolutely everything out of the tank. This isn’t the case. Pumping all of the contents from your tank will also remove the helpful bacteria that aide in the process going on in your tank.
In some cases, your septic system might work perfectly for a few days after getting pumped. Then it all goes downhill again, and that’s an indicator of a bigger problem.
So now you understand the general concepts at play here. Let’s dive into what you can since you’re still experiencing a backup, despite having your tank pumped.
Why Is The Septic Tank Backing Up After Being Pumped?
This is the most important question here. Why is your system still backing up despite having your septic tank pumped?
Well, pumping doesn’t remove issues, it just helps prevent future issues. In most cases, a professional pumping your tank isn’t in an effort to clear up a clog.
Routine pumping keeps the process alive in your tank. It keeps the bad stuff out and lets the good stuff keep working. Though it’s hard to call the stuff in your tank “good”, but that’s beside the point.
Your system is backing up because there’s an obstruction, blockage, or damaged sections elsewhere in your system. Remember, your septic system is comprised of many more parts than just your tank.
The real problem is finding where the obstruction is.
What You Can Do
There are some DIY solutions when it comes to clearing up the back-up. We have another post that goes into the DIY process in deeper detail, but this is a good start.
Look Under Your Sink
If water is backing up in specifically one or two sinks, there could be a local system problem there.
In the cabinet under your sink is a small section of piping. You’ll find your P-trap which is a U-shaped section of pipe.
With a bucket under your P-trap, unscrew it from both sides and remove it from the assembly.
See if you can find a block in either section of piping. Snake both sections of piping and see if that clears up your problem.
Search for a Clogged Pipe
It’s easier said than done but finding a clogged pipe can fix your problem. There could be a pipe upstream from the tank, and that’s why you’re still having a problem.
In this case, you need to find out what part of your system is interrupted. If all of your drains are backing up, the main pipe that leads to the tank is clogged. In this case, there isn’t a lot you can do besides bring in a pro.
If a section of your home is backing up, then there are one or many pipes in that area that need to be unclogged.
If you get lucky and the clog is within reach, grab a snake for the drain. Make sure you work the clog slowly and twist the snake a lot. If successful, you should see the pressure go back to normal across the house.
Use Gentle Chemicals
Using harsh chemicals will disturb the bacteria in your tank and destroy your system. Using a powdering of baking soda and some vinegar will do the trick. Put it in a drain of your choice and wait about 2 hours. After that time, flush the line with hot water.
This only works when the clog is small. The good news about this technique is you don’t have to see the clog or be able to reach it.
Find a Pro
The last method is to reach out to a professional. If you can’t find or clear the clog and you don’t want to waste any more time, get a pro.
This is also a good step if you’re not comfortable with your septic system. You won’t necessarily hurt your system through the troubleshooting process, but you might see, smell, and touch some pretty gross stuff.
How to Find the Right Pro
After reaching out to a pro, they will use their previous experience and knowledge of septic systems to find and fix the problem.
You might find them performing some of the same steps detailed above. The difference here is they have heavier-duty tools and chemicals. On top of that, there’s a lot to be said about their past experience.
As you’re shopping around for a pro, you will want to do some internet searches for your area. Additionally, you can ask friends, relatives, coworkers, and neighbors if they have any companies they can suggest.
So how do you know if it’s the right pro?
Find an Experienced Professional
The most important part is finding someone with experience. The last thing you want is a rookie to check your system and say there’s nothing wrong when there is. A septic expert will know where to look, what to do, and how to fix the problem.
To test the person’s experience, you might try some troubleshooting over the phone and listen to their responses to your questions.
Reach out to Multiple Companies
Speaking from experience, it’s always a good idea to reach out to multiple companies whenever you’re looking to bring in a contractor.
In this case, it will help you to understand the options you have available. You will have a better understanding of their knowledge, their price, and their abilities after having the same conversation with multiple different parties.
It also helps you find companies that aren’t worth your time.
Consider the Price
Price is another big piece of this puzzle. As you’re asking for quotes, you’ll undoubtedly get a variety of figures.
The price of their visit can vary, but you can expect to pay between $100-500 for their trip. This number also fluctuates depending on your area, how old your system is, and how severe the fix is.
Be hesitant when you hear a quote that is way too low, or way too high. This is an indicator that they don’t know what they’re doing, and they shouldn’t be trusted to fix your problem.