Septic Tank Odors: Common Causes And Solutions

If you have an onsite septic tank in your home, you may have experienced awful odors coming from the system at one point or the other. Most homeowners often ignore mild odors, but they can soon become much more intense and embarrassing, causing unbearable air pollution. In such extreme cases, it would help to call in experienced professionals to figure out the cause of the problem and fix it.

Septic tank gases usually escape from the system if the tank is full and needs emptying, or when manhole covers are loose. These are, however, not the only causes of bad odors. Here is a look at other common causes of septic tank smells.

Vent tank problems

Onsite septic tanks release toxic gases, such as methane, hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide, that not only cause unpleasant smells, but that may be toxic and explosive. This is why the tank has to be vented to allow these gases to escape high into the air, thus averting a buildup in the home.

The venting typically goes through a vent stack at the top of your roof, so blockages in this pipe, either by snow, leaves and branches or even critters' nests can hinder the escape of septic tank gases, resulting in foul smells in the home. Another problem may be strong, down blowing winds that push vented gases back into the home, in which case an extra-tall vent stack may be required.

In some cases, a remodeling project could have covered up the vent stack, resulting in the buildup of toxic gases. This is especially likely in cases where the attic has been converted into a living space.

Dry drains and faulty seals

Septic tanks typically have built-in, U-shaped 'trap' devices designed to seal out odors in the drain pipes. These trap devices usually contain water that stops the flow of toxic septic tank gases into sinks and toilets.

Should debris fill up these traps and displace water in them, gases are often able to find their way into guest bathrooms or other areas where the drains are used rarely. The simple solution to this problem is to pour water down the drain so as to flush down debris and refill the affected trap.

Faulty seals and gaskets around drain pipes, such as at the base of toilets or sinks, could also cause bad odors to build up in that particular area. In such cases, call in a plumber to locate and repair the faulty gasket as soon as possible.

Talk to a service like AAA Pumping Service for more information.


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