The most common misconception homeowners have about owning a septic tank is that it shouldn’t have to be pumped if it’s working correctly. While this isn’t necessarily wrong, owning a septic tank requires proper maintenance to ensure longer tank lifespans. Part of this is knowing when your septic tank is getting full, and the key is spotting the warning signs. We’re here to share what they are, so you know when it’s time to call the professionals.


What a full septic tank can mean

Before we go into the signs that your septic tank may already be full, let’s look into what a full septic tank means. There are three ways to define a “full tank.”


  1. Filled to normal levels– This means the water level is at the amount that your tank is designed to hold water. It also means the intake and outtake valve is allowing waste and wastewater to flow without any issues. When your tank is pumped and emptied, it will return to this level as it is used.
  2. Sludge accumulation– Paper and waste can get trapped in the tank when tanks are full and aren’t being pumped properly. This leads to wastewater flowing out to the drainage area.
  3. Overfilled tank– In this case, the drainage field stops accepting water, so the water backs up and rises to the very top of the tank.


Now you know what a full tank can include, here’s how you can spot the warning signs so you can remedy these issues early on.


Slow draining water

If you’re noticing slow drains in your home, it may indicate that your septic tank is full. Drains should flow quickly and easily. If they’re not doing this, there may be a problem. However, take note that this warning sign may also be caused by other plumbing issues. That’s why it’s helpful to determine if the slow draining of water is only a specific drain, or if it occurs at multiple drains. If only one drain is slow, then there could be a clog in that pipe, but if drains are slow all over the house, it’s a good indication that your septic tank is full, and needs to be emptied.


Bad odour

Unpleasant odours can be a telling sign that your septic tank needs to be emptied too. This is because properly working septic tank systems should not emit smells when processing and disposing of your sewage. If you have had your tank pumped recently, there can be a good chance that the odour is a sign of another problem, such as downdraft from your sewer vent pipes.


Gurgling pipes

If you notice gurgling sounds coming from your toilets or drain pipes, it may be because your septic tank is full. It’s time to call in the professionals so you can investigate the issue further.


Sewage backup

One of the most obvious signs that your tank is full is a back-up of sewage. As far as warning signs can go, this is a serious indication that you have a big problem that needs immediate attention, as raw sewage can cause health problems to those within the household. Don’t try to clean the mess up yourself, instead, call a septic tank company right away.


You may be overdue for a pump

It’s possible there are no clear warning signs, but you’re still due for a pump in order to avoid problems later on. Generally, septic tanks need to pumped every three to five years. The exact interval will depend on your septic tank’s size, household size, the amount of wastewater generated, and the volume of your solid waste. If you’re moving into a new home and can’t determine the last time a septic tank was pumped, it’s best to have professional inspect your current system and get it pumped right away to start a new schedule of pumping.


Regular pumping is key

Though it’s useful to know what the signs are to signify your septic tank is full, it’s better not to wait for these signs to manifest. Call Streamline to have our team of experts get your septic tanks inspected and pumped regularly. We offer septic tank cleaning to the highest standard at a cost-effective price. Call us today!