How To Check Septic Tank is Full

How To Check Septic Tank is Full – A Step by Step Guide

Getting a full septic tank is not a good thing for homeowners. It should be pumped as soon as possible. Otherwise, the whole septic system of the house would be seriously affected. Also, there would be the risk of health hazards. And if the problem gets bigger, you might have to pay a lot of bucks as a penalty for creating public health issues.

So, you should keep checking your septic tank often. I’ll be discussing the way of checking your septic system a bit later. Right now, let’s talk a bit about the signs that say that your septic tank might be full and should be checked. 

Signs Saying that the Septic Tank is Full

Signs Saying that the Septic Tank is Full

All the signs discussed here might not be the indication of a full septic tank. But whenever you see the signs, you should check the tank. 

Standing water

Standing water around the tank is a sign that says that your tank doesn’t have enough space for that water. So, if you see standing water around your tank and that is not from rain, it must be a sign of a full or damaged septic tank. In this case, you should check the amount of waste in your septic tank. 

This standing water may cause health hazards as it is from a septic system. So, don’t be late to take the necessary steps. 

Slow Drain

Wastewater from your house directly goes to the septic system. If the tank is full, it can’t carry more wastewater. As a result, flushing or draining becomes slower than the normal rate. 

If you think that such an issue is happening, you should check the tank as soon as possible. This may happen because of a clogged septic system too. 

Gurgling Water

In most septic systems, sometimes water gurgles and it is a common scene. However, if you see that the gurgling sound is more frequent than regular, it is time to check the septic tank.

When the septic tank gets filled and can’t take the load, it sends the wastewater back towards the input lines. This makes the gurgling sound. 

Backing up Wastewater

Wastewater from your toilet goes to the septic tank system. But when the tank is full, it has nowhere to go. 

The tank takes as much load as possible. Then it sends the rest waste back towards your toilet through the same sewage line. As a result, you can see waste and wastewater is coming back to your toilet again. 

So, if you see that your sewage is backing up, go check the septic tank and pump it as soon as possible. It is not an enjoyable experience to see sewage coming up again. It creates health hazards too. 

Bad Smell

The process of decomposing the waste creates gasses. When the tank is not full, the gasses don’t create an issue. But when the tank is full, gasses come out through your sewage line and cause a bad smell. 

This smell is unhealthy and causes several health hazards. If you find the odor of waste frequently at your house, check the septic tank. 

Too Green Grasses

Green grass in your lawn is an indicator of a healthy lawn. But when the grass is too green, especially around the area where the septic tank is situated, it indicates something unhealthy. 

When the septic tank is full, water overflows and spreads around. This causes the grass to be greener. So, instead of being happy seeing such green grass around, you should check the septic tank. 

High Nitrate in the well Water

If you have a well on your lawn, you should know that it is mandatory to check the well water regularly. In regular checking, if you find that the amount of nitrate is increasing in your well water, you should be worried about it. 

Human waste contains nitrate. When the tank is full and water is spread, it might mix with the well water. So, when you see such a condition of well water, check the tank and see whether it is full or not. 

In such issues, you should take professional help to check the tank as there is a chance that the tank is already full. Handling it won’t be an easy issue. 

In case you want to check the tank still, let’s see how to do this. 

How To Check Septic Tank is Full

How to Check the Septic Tank is Full

To check whether the septic tank is full or not, you’ll have to go through a process called septic tank inspection. It is not that tough but requires a lot of patience and caution. The process of septic tank inspection is given below.  

Step 1- Gathering the Necessary Things for the Inspection

To make sure you’re doing it right and safely, you’ll have to arrange some necessary things. Below is a list of the things you’ll need for the inspection.

  • 10 ft. PVC pipes (2 pieces)
  • End caps for pipes (4 pieces) and 90-degree elbow (1 piece)
  • One threaded coupler and two threaded adapters 
  • Old towel or sock or piece of cloth that you don’t use anymore
  • Glue and duct tape
  • Waterproof marker
  • Gloves (rubber gloves are better)
  • Garbage disposal bag
  • Sanitizing solutions 

Step 2- Making the Sticks

Now, you’ll have to make two different sticks using the 10 ft. pipes. Among the two, one will be used to measure the level of scum. We’ll call it scum stick. Another one is a sludge stick. I guess you’ve already understood why we’re going to call it like this. We’re measuring the level of sludge with it. 

For preparing the scum stick, you’ll have to take one of the pipes and cut it at 6 ft. Take the 90-degree elbow and add it to one end using the glue. Take the rest of the pipe and cut around 6-inches from that. Use the glue to add it to the remaining side of the 90-degree elbow. Take two end caps can put those in the ends.

The scum stick is ready. Now it is time to prepare the sludge stick. 

Take the other pipe and cut it in the middle. This will give you two 5 ft. sticks. Take the threaded adapters and add one to each 5 ft. stick using the glue. Then use the coupler to add the adapters with the pipes. Thus, you’ll get a stick that is a bit longer than 10 ft. This time, then stick is ready for the task we’re going to do. Use the rest two end caps to cover the ends.

The sludge stick is not ready yet. Take the towel, sock, or piece of cloth and wrap it properly at one end of the sludge stick. Use the duct tape to ensure that it is going to be there in its place. Make sure that the towel or anything you’re using covers around 4 ft. of the stick. Now it is done. 

Step 3- Reaching the Tank

The sticks are ready now, and you have other necessary things. Now you have to get to the tank. Before that, wear gloves and make sure that your body parts are protected properly with clothes. 

You should recognize the position of your septic tank. Take everything you’re arranged and go to the tank. 

Tanks with risers are easy to reach as the lid is placed on the ground surface. In this case, your tank is easy. If there is no riser in your tank, you’ll have to dig the ground to reach the tank. In this case, you’ll need tools to dig the ground. 

Step 4- Measuring the Thickness of Scum

At first, we’ll measure the thickness of scum. For this, you have to follow the process.

  • Pick the scum stick you’ve made and insert it into the tank. The elbow end should go first and the straight end should be in your grip. 
  • When the scum stick will reach the upper level of scum, you’ll feel it because the scum is thick. You’ll feel a barrier. Stop right there and mark the stick. To put the mark at the exact place, place another stick or anything straight across the opening of the tank. Let’s call it marking stick. Mark on the scum stick where the marking stick has touched. 
  • When marking is done, push the stick again through the scum. You’ll feel the pressure as long as the stick goes through the scum. Go slow so that you can stop anywhere.
  • After some time, you’ll feel that the backward pressure has stopped. Don’t stop there and go around 5-6 inches more. Then turn it around 90-degrees and start pulling it out. 
  • Whenever you’ll feel that the lower end of the scum has touched the stick, stop. You’ll feel the pressure again when the stick will touch the lower end of the scum. 
  • Put another mark on the stick. The distance between these two marks shows the thickness of scum. 
  • Be careful while pushing and pulling the stick. Go slow and straight.

Step 5- Measuring the Thickness of Sludge and Others

Now it is time to check how much sludge has accumulated in your tank. 

  • To make sure that you’re measuring the sludge thickness properly, you should make a hole in the layer of scum. Use the scum stick to make the hole because scum shouldn’t touch the towel at the end of the sludge stick. 
  • After making a hole wide enough, insert the sludge stick in the tank. The towel end should lead the stick. Make sure that it is going through the hole you’ve made using the scum stick.
  • See carefully and stop when the sludge stick reaches the top of the water, which is the lower end of the scum layer. Mark the stick using the same trick. Let’s think that the point is A.
  • Start pushing the stick again until you reach the end of the tank. After reaching the bottom, mark the stick. Supposes, this is point B. 
  • Now it is time to wait. Hold the stick firmly there and wait for around 5-6 minutes. Within this time, the sludge should stain the towel, sock, or anything you’ve used. 
  • Then pull the stick out. You’ll have to take two measurements. Measure the distance between A and B. We call it working depth. Also, see how long the sludge has stained the towel. It shows the sludge thickness. 

Step 6- Calculation

Now, let’s do some basic calculations. Even if you’re bad at math, don’t worry.

Till now, you have three measurements- Working depth, depth of sludge, and depth of scum. These three are enough for the calculation. 

Add the depth of scum and depth of sludge. Now compare the sum with the working depth. Typically, if the sum crosses 1/3rd of the working depth, the septic tank should be pumped. 

If you face the signs stated above, the sum must reach almost the working depth or cross it. So, don’t be late to call a professional pumping service. 

If the sum doesn’t cross 1/3rd of the working depth but you feel one of the signs, there is an issue in the piping system. Get a plumber to find out the issue and fix it. 

Step 7- Cleanup and Disinfection

In this whole process, your gloves and the cloth put on the sludge stick must be stained. You don’t have to wash those. Put those in the garage bag and throw the bag in the trash can. 

Take the sticks and use sanitizing solutions to disinfect those. Before keeping those in storage, leave those under the sun for a few hours. While strong, decouple the sludge stick for easier storing. 

If you don’t want to take the hassle at all, call us or any other professional service. They’ll get the job done quickly with better tools. This will save your effort and energy, but you’ll have to spend some bucks. A regular septic tank inspection service makes you spend around 100 to 150 bucks. 

However, if the tank is full, get it pumped as fast as possible to stay safe from potential hazards

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