Septic systems are widely used in America: about 20% of homes are connected to a septic system instead of a public sewer. The government is responsible for looking after the public sewers while septic systems are the responsibility of individual homeowners. If you have a septic system, you need to stay alert for signs that something is wrong with your septic system, like bad odors. Here's what you need to know about this warning sign.
What causes bad odors?
Your septic tank is full of sewage and other solid waste. Some of this waste is naturally broken down by bacteria while the rest of it eventually needs to be pumped out. The decomposition and accumulation of this waste leads to bad smells, but if your septic tank is working properly, most of the smells should be contained to the tank.
Bad odors in your home or yard can be a sign of a lot of different septic tank problems. For example, they could be a clue that your septic tank is rusted or damaged and is now leaking sewage into the soil. Bad odors can also be a sign that your septic tank hasn't been pumped in a while and is now overflowing sewage into the soil.
Are bad odors dangerous?
Bad odors can be dangerous. They can be an indication that gas is leaking out of your septic tank, and the gasses inside your septic tank are very dangerous. Gasses like methane and hydrogen sulfide are found inside septic tanks, and when they build up inside your home, they can be explosive. Doing everyday things like turning on your stove or lighting your cigarette can cause these gasses to explode.
Bad odors aren't always dangerous, though. A faint bad odor around the septic tank is normal. This is because your liquid waste isn't stored in the septic tank; it flows out into the surrounding soil to be treated. The soil filters out any dangerous bacteria or viruses, but you may still notice a bit of a bad odor near the area.
What should you do if your septic system smells bad?
Anything more than a very faint odor is a big problem. If you smell sewage inside your house, you need to evacuate your house right away due to the risk of explosion and call a plumber from a safe location. Don't try to pump or fix the septic tank by yourself, since the tank is also full of these dangerous gasses.
A faint smell near your septic tank is normal, but a strong smell inside your house or in your backyard is not. If you smell a strong odor, you need to call a company like Roto Rooter right away to have your tank serviced.