If you own a Massachusetts residential septic system, chances are you have heard warnings about septic system failure. Every homeowner needs to know what it is and learn how to prevent septic system failure from happening in the first place.

What Causes Septic System Failure?
The answer to this question is simple: if the amount of wastewater that enters your system is more than the system is able to handle, the wastewater will back up either into the yard or into your home. This can create a health hazard for you and your family.

If you see any partially treated wastewater flowing up to the ground near your drainfield, or if you smell a foul odor inside your home or outside near the drainfield, chances are you have a septic system failure. Unfortunately, by the time you see or smell these signs, the damage very likely has already been done. At that point, it’s too late. The best way to deal with failure is to learn how to prevent septic system failure in the first place.

Water is one of the chief reasons for failure, outside of regular maintenance and septic system inspections in Somerset homes and all over Southeastern Massachusetts. Limiting the amount of water that you use will help reduce the amount of wastewater that gets into your system. Regular inspections, maintenance and pumping, when required, will also help to reduce your chance for septic system failure.

Signs of Failure in Your Massachusetts Residential Septic System
In addition to a foul smell and water pooling all over the surface of your drainfield, there are a few other obvious symptoms of septic system failure that you can easily watch for and identify.

  • muddy soil around the septic system
  • pooling water in your basement
  • toilets or sinks that back up when you are doing laundry
  • lush grass or other foliage on top of the drainfield

If you notice any one or more of these symptoms, you should call a professional septic system service company right away. Get regular inspections every couple of years and consider signing up for a preventative maintenance program that will help you learn how to prevent septic system failure from happening to your home.

Other Causes of Septic System Failure
In addition to neglect, improper maintenance, too much water and structural deficiencies, there are other things that can contribute to septic system failure. Once you learn what to avoid, you can learn how to prevent septic system failure once and for all.

#1 – Toxic Chemicals
Even something as simple as rinsing out paint rollers in a utility sink can send your septic system into a tailspin. Any solvents, oil-based paints and toxic cleaners should never enter your septic system – not ever. Any type of cleanup that involves chemicals should be minimized or eliminated entirely. If you have any leftover chemicals or products that could be harmful to your Massachusetts residential septic system, take them to your local hazardous waste collection center.

#2 – Household Cleaning Supplies
If a small amount of household cleaning supplies gets down into the drain and into your septic system, chances are your system’s bacteria will recover quickly and get back on track. However, there are some products that are more toxic than others. Check the labels and look for words such as “poison” or “danger” as an indicator that the product is hazardous in some way. Know what words on labels mean, for example the word “warning” says that the product is considered moderately hazardous. The word “caution” signals that the product is just slightly hazardous and the words “non toxic” or “septic safe” means that the product is okay to use in moderation.

#3 – Hot Tubs
While it might seem ridiculous, adding a hot tub to your property can be a cause for septic system failure. Your septic system was not designed to handle the large amount of water that comes from your new hot tub. When the water from the hot tub is emptied into the septic system, all of the solids get stirred up and can get pushed out into the drainfield. This can actually overload your system, resulting in septic system failure. If you must have a hot tub, make sure to drain the water after it has been cooled onto a landscaped area that is far away from your drainfield. Make sure to follow any local laws or ordinances regarding hot tubs.

#4 – Garbage Disposals
While some systems are designed to accommodate the extra waste and water associated with using a garbage disposal, many aren’t. You should never use a garbage disposal if you own a home that has a Massachusetts residential septic system. When you get professional septic system inspections in Somerset, your inspector should tell you whether or not you can use the garbage disposal if you aren’t sure. Avoid the whole potential for disaster and start composting your kitchen scraps outdoors to create beautiful soil for your garden and landscaping.