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Septic Problems That Can Mimic Drain Clogs

Septic Tank
If you've noticed a slow drain or two in your bathroom, you may be considering pouring in some chemical drain cleaner. But in these cases, the best solution is always to call in the professionals for a diagnosis rather than using hazardous substances. Instead of a simple clogged drain, you could have a plumbing vent problem, a sewer line problem, or a septic issue.
Learn about three septic problems that can show symptoms similar to drain clogs.
1. Clogged Baffle
A typical septic tank has an inlet baffle and an outlet baffle. The outlet baffle keeps solids from traveling down the line to the leach field, since that could clog the pipes. The inlet baffle helps the wastewater enter the tank smoothly.
A clog in either of these baffles can prevent wastewater from draining correctly. Like a drain clog, this type of clog will slow or stop drains. But unlike a drain clog, you can't shift it with a chemical cleaner; you'll need to have a professional septic service contractor clear the clog.
2. Pipe Damage
The lines to the leach field aren't the only pipes that can become clogged and fail. There's also the pipe leading to the septic system from your house. Called the main sewer line, this pipe is often made of clay piping, especially in older systems.
No matter what it's made of, this main line is susceptible to clogs, earthquake damage, damage from large equipment being driven over the area, and tree root damage. However, clay piping is extremely brittle and has joints that tree roots can easily enter, meaning that it can be more susceptible to damage than other types might be.
3. Drainfield Failure
Some homeowners don't realize this, but septic systems have a limited lifespan. The leach field is expected to last for a couple of decades, and then you'll need a new leach field in a different location on your property. This is why regulations require you to have a reserve leach field site when you're constructing your septic system.
Drainfields can fail in a couple of different ways. One occurs when too much solid waste gets into your lines and they clog up so badly that they need to be replaced. This problem, often caused by neglect, tends to also damage the drainage capacity of the soil because of the types of bacteria that flood the area when solids are forced out to the leach field.
Another problem that can cause the leach field to fail early is compaction. If you walk frequently on the field, cover it with concrete or a structure, or drive and park vehicles on it, you may crush pipes and compress all the air out of the field. Since the field's operation depends in part on bacteria that need air in the soil to live, this can make the area nonfunctional.
But no matter the cause, a drainfield that's in the process of failing greatly reduces the wastewater processing abilities of your system, which can slow or block drains similar to a clog.
These three septic problems can sometimes present symptoms similar to those of a simple clogged drain. They can then progress to much more serious issues, such as sewage backup in your home. So be sure to have a professional come out to take care of the situation if you notice slowing drains.
Whether you need a diagnostic visit, a sewer line cleaning, or septic system cleaning and pumping, be sure to contact Upstate Septic Tank, LLC, right away. We'll be happy to help you keep your septic system as healthy as possible.