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The Home Depot

How to Treat Septic Tank Overflow

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Septic Tank > How to Treat Septic Tank Overflow
How to Treat Septic Tank Overflow

Proper maintenance can go a long way in preventing septic tank overflow as well as other issues, but when dealing with a tank that is compromised due to old age or one that is simply too small for the amount of waste it must handle, even a well-maintained tank can overflow. Though this is hardly an experience any homeowner would welcome, it's not the end of the world, either.


Unfortunately, once an overflow occurs, there's just about nothing a homeowner can do except contact a professional. There are plenty of things you can do on your own, however, to reduce the likelihood of septic system problems.

    Unfortunately, once an overflow occurs, there's just about nothing a homeowner can do except call in a professional.
  1. 1.Yearly System Probes

    Septic tanks overflow when they get too full or they are somehow plugged up. Since they are underground, however, it is impossible to tell how full your tank is without physically probing it. According to a report from the University of Georgia, this should be performed once a year. Though many homeowners may not want to do this job themselves, a little unpleasantness is plenty better than a costly repair coupled with an overflow.


    Those who do not want to go through the process of probing sludge levels every year may need to have their system professionally cleaned once every five years to ensure proper operation. Those who monitor levels in their system and perform any necessary maintenance may be able to go 15 or more years without a professional cleaning.

  2. 2.Regular System Treatments

    Microorganisms that live inside a septic system are one of the key elements in its function. However, not all tanks can continue to support the number of organisms they need to perform properly. Septic tank additives that contain these organisms are readily available and, depending on your particular system, should be added periodically to ensure smooth operation.

  3. 3.Be Careful What You Put Down the Drain

    Septic tanks are designed to handle water, human waste, and not much else. Toilet paper, dish soap, and laundry detergent won't gum up the works, but items like drain cleaner, grease, waste from garbage disposals, and even coffee grounds can cause big problems. If in doubt, put it in the trash and keep it out of your system.

  5. 4.Prepare for Holidays

    Believe it or not, Thanksgiving is traditionally one of the busiest days of the year for plumbers. This is because systems (and individual components of those systems) that function just fine under everyday conditions are stretched to their limit when they have to deal with 10 more people's use. Calling for service during holidays is not only a nuisance--it's expensive, too! If you are planning on having lots of company during the holiday season or for special events like graduations and weddings, make sure to schedule service for at least a week before so you don't run into any problems during your gathering.

  6. 5.Beware of Trees and Their Roots

    Tree roots might grow slowly, but they can be extremely powerful. Powerful enough to damage (and dense enough to clog) septic systems if you're not careful! Though there's no reason to go cutting down all the trees on your property, those that are located near the septic tank may need to go in some instances.

  7. 6.No Parking

    Parking on top of a septic tank might seem like a no-brainer thing to avoid, but the simple fact is: it happens. Especially when moving to a new property or inviting guests over who are not privy to where your tank is located, it is important to mark off the area and make sure that no cars are allowed to drive or park on top. Septic tanks are designed for durability and long lives, but the weight of a vehicle is enough to cause serious problems that can end up costing you a bundle!

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