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  • Jodi Eberhardt

What Causes a Septic System to Fail?

Septic system failure is most commonly the result of:

• Improper design or installation of the system;

• Overuse of water in the home; and/or

• Improper maintenance.

When your system, or a neighbor’s system fails, untreated wastewater could come in contact with people, causing a public health hazard, or enter the groundwater and eventually the lake, adding pollution that can contribute to increased algae and aquatic plant growth and declining water quality.

What are the signs of a failing system?

• Sewage backup into the house or slow toilet flushing,

• Frozen pipes or soil treatment areas,

• System alarms sounding,

• Wet and/or black areas around a septic mound,

• Algal blooms and excessive plant growth in the water near shore,

• Sewage odors indoors or outdoors,

• Water or sewage surfacing in the yard or a nearby low spot, or

• High levels of nitrates or coliform bacteria in well water tests.

If you have a Problem:

• Contact your local Planning & Zoning Office for advice and/or licensed septic inspector.

• If the drainfield or household pipes are not clogged, have the system pumped for both solids and liquids as a temporary measure.

• If there is surface pooling of wastewater, fence off the area to prevent contact with humans and pets.

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