Your septic tank is a large, waterproof, concrete tank in the yard of your home. The septic tank collects wastewater that has been flushed down drains, showers and toilets. Inside the septic tank sits a layer of sludge on the bottom, scum on top, and relatively clear water sandwiched between.
With all that bacteria, grease and other waste from your home buried on your property, you’ll probably notice a variety of smells coming from your septic system over time. Some of these odors are expected, but in general, your septic system should not fill your house with a scent. If you do notice a smell, there are a variety of ways to handle the problem on your own.
Your home is connected to the septic tank through a network of pipes. Water trapped in the pipes prevents the odor from the septic tank from backing up into your home. Sometimes, usually in unused bathrooms or utility rooms, this water dries up and smells from the septic tank enter the home. If this occurs, the solution is simple: add water to the pipes.
In the future, you can prevent the P-traps in your drains from drying out by periodically running all showers, sinks and toilets, and by regularly dumping water into any floor drains.
The plumbing vent is a pipe that connects to your plumbing and exits through the roof of your home. The vent pipe equalizes the pressure in your pipes and prevents a variety of problems from occurring (this includes gurgling toilets, dried out P-traps, smells and more). This vent can easily become clogged with falling debris, tennis balls and even dead birds.
To unclog the vent pipe, you’ll need to climb onto the roof your home. Do not attempt to do this alone or without taking proper safety measures.
Once you’ve gained access to the opening of the vent pipe on the roof, there are two standard ways that a homeowner can unclog the pipe.
Snake the pipe. Not all homeowners own drain snakes, so this isn’t an option for everyone. Drain snakes are available for sale at home improvement stores. Professional-grade snakes are also available to rent.
Pour water down the pipe. If you don’t own a drain snake, you can also use water from a hose to dislodge the clog. The weight from the water will push the clog out of the vent pipe.
There are many resources online that homeowners can turn to for more information about septic systems and how to prevent and stop odors, including this detailed article about the many reasons why odors occur both indoors and out.
What problems have you encountered with your septic system? How did you solve the problem? Leave a comment in the box below. We’d love to hear about your home remedies and solutions to these common problems.