Getting Rid of Septic Tank Odors
Septic tank odors are a “di-stink-tive” sign that your septic tank is not functioning as it should. In some causes the problem may simply an issue with a drain or pipe, more often it is a problem in the tank. Let’s face it, septic tanks are giant receptacles for human waste; however, they are designed to contain odors. There are many reasons why you may be plagued by the stinky septic smells depending where the odor is coming from. The terrible smell of septic waste is not only offensive but may also be a serious health risk.
Septic systems hold human waste and water from the home. Inside, micro-organisms, bacteria, digest and break down the waste. The breakdown of waste produces methane and hydrogen sulfide gases. Septic tank systems are required to have a vent installed, to prevent the build up of these toxic and flammable gases. Within the home plumbing system, gases flow through pipes and out through the main vent stack on the roof. Many times a clogged or obstructed vent will cause gases to exit other ways such as through drains in the home. Because the vent is usually on the roof, bird or wasps nests or even snow and ice can clog a vent. If this is the case, by removing the obstruction the septic tank odors should go away. Short or poorly positioned vent pipes may also cause odors to enter the home instead of dissipating into the atmosphere. Winds may carry the odor back into the home instead of away from it. This can be fixed by extending the length of a short vent stack.
Another common issue that will cause septic tank odors to enter the air, are leaking or damaged pipes. If there is a definitive area in which the smell is coming, check the pipes in that area for cracks, holes, loose seals, or leaks. Sometimes a leaking pipe will allow septic liquid to saturate the ground around it, this will release that awful stench. Replacing or fixing broken pipes, and cleaning the saturated area will eliminate smells.
Drains are also designed to keep septic odors from entering the home. Dips in the piping located near drains are called traps. Traps are designed to seal gases and odors from entering the home by holding water to eliminate air movement in the drain. When a trap is dry, septic odors will enter the home through the drain. A trap can become dry from under-use, high or low pressure in the piping system, or a leaking trap drain. By slowly pouring water down the drain , the trap will refill to eliminate odors from escaping the line. U-shaped Pipes in bathrooms and kitchens also have water in them to restrict septic gases from returning into the home. Make sure u-shaped pipes have water in them to keep out septic tank odors.
More often then a pipe, or vent the septic tank odor is the result of a chemical imbalance in the septic tank. Bacteria inside the septic tank break down waste and the byproduct is toxic methane gases. These gases make the pH level in the tank too acidic for the bacteria to continue breaking down waste. When this happens hydrogen sulfide is released, causing a stench similar to rotten eggs. When the bacteria cannot continue breaking down waste, it builds up. This can be corrected by adding a cup of baking soda down the drain to level the pH balance. After correcting the pH balance, a septic tank treatment product containing both bacteria and enzymes should be added to the tank so there is a sufficient level of bacteria to digest the build up of waste.
The most common cause of septic odors is a build up of things that should not go into the septic system. The build-up of these can cause problems with decomposition and lead to more serious problems with your septic tank. In this case the odor coming from your septic is a warning that the bacteria in the septic tank are not able to do their job. Bacteria can not digest items such as: cooking grease, fats or oils, industrial cleaning products, paints, solvents, feminine hygiene products, condoms, antibacterials and other expired medications, anti-freeze, transmission fluid, and gasoline. Also, avoid flushing coffee grinds, plastic, cig butts, cat litter, and facial tissue. Disruption of the sewage breakdown can cause pungent septic tank odors.
If septic tank odors are plaguing your home or business, use a septic treatment product that contains bacteria and enzymes. These septic tank cleaners contain lipase, amylase, and protease, enzymes that breakdown household waste. They also contain high counts of bacteria that will immediately start to decompose the waste in your septic system. Since septic odors usually signify an issue with the bacteria in the tank, by replenishing the bacteria, odors will go away. Using a septic tank treatment product that contains bacteria and enzymes is the best way to properly maintain your septic system. The monthly use of a septic treatment product will not only eliminate existing problems, they will prevent odors, clogs, and back-ups. Don’t wait for intrusive septic odors to make their way to your home, maintain your septic system and use a septic tank treatment with both enzymes and bacteria.