Septic Smells - What To Do?

Outside your Home

If you have a " conventional or traditional-style" septic system and have an odor, it may indicate that:

  • The tanks need to be pumped, or
  • The drain field may have failed or tanks may be leaking sewage.

If you have an aerobic treatment system and there is a odor from the septic tanks themselves or when the sprinklers activate – especially a strong septic odor, which has also been described as a "rotten-egg smell" – this type of odor may indicate:

  • Your tanks need to be pumped
  • One of the manholes may not be completely covered or a concrete lid may be broken, or, if a plastic lid, the seal on the lid may be leaking
  • The aeration tank may not be receiving the appropriate amount of air, which can be caused by a stopped-up air system, broken air lines, clogged air filter or improperly operating air compressor or aerator
  • Overuse of water, such as washing a lot of laundry in one day
  • Septic odors are being trapped near the ground by high air pressure, especially on a very hot, windless day
  • One of your neighbors has a septic problem and the septic odor is coming from their sprinklers when they activate
  • Other operational problems, not listed above, peculiar to your particular brand of aerobic treatment unit.

Inside The Home

If you have a septic odor coming from your drains in your home, it is most likely due to a dried out p-trap (possibly in a bathroom that is rarely used) that is rarely used, that is allowing septic gasses from your septic back into your home. One remedy is to periodically fill the rarely used sinks and tubs with water and let them drain out. Also, if there is a floor drain, such as in a laundry room, that drain should periodically be filled with water so the p-trap will not dry out.

  • Septic odors could also occur because of a clogged plumbing vent on your roof. These vents, which equalize pressure in your drainpipes and keep odors out, will need to be periodically cleaned out – just as your gutters need to be cleaned.
  • If a septic odor in your home persists, you will probably need to call a professional plumber.

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