What causes septic tank odors?

If you have a septic tank, you may find yourself plagued with an uncontrollable septica tank odour. There may be several reasons for a stinky septic odour, other than the obvious fact that it's a receptacle for human waste. They're supposed to contain the odour. Knowing what causes septic tank odours is important for any septic tank owner because sewage issues, if left untended, can contaminate the water supply, and create dangerous situations.

Septic Tank is Full

Hopefully this is the reason for the septic tank odour. It's often the easiest one to resolve: just have it pumped. A septic tank's size is usually determined by the expected water usage for the home. Most are designed to be pumped annually. If you've got a leaky faucet, or are using more water than usual, you may need to have your tank pumped more often to reduce the septic tank smells.

Clogged Septic Tank Vent

Every septic tank system should have a vent installed. This allows the gases from the sewage to escape, preventing a build-up of toxic and flammable methane gases. Sometimes the vent can become clogged by a wasp's nest, a bird's nest, snow and ice, or even a frog. Check your vent to see that the gases are escaping. You can use a gas sniffing device to check for the presence of the expected gases, or you could do it the old fashioned way (by smelling). Smelling things that could be toxic isn't recommended. If you have reason to believe that your vent is clogged, you can consult a plumber who will resolve the matter. A clogged vent could be the cause of your septic tank odours, which can be quite unpleasant.

Covered Septic Tank Vent

If your home has been remodelled or otherwise altered since the septic tank was installed, it may have been capped or covered up. Some tanks in older houses were built to vent into an attic, so if the attic has been finished into a room, that room may periodically experience septic tank odours. Some septic systems have a vent with a metal screen on top to prevent critters from climbing inside or otherwise obstructing the vent. These screens may fall inside the pipe and close it off, thereby causing the problem they were designed to prevent: septic tank odours in the house.

No Septic Tank Vent

Also, if the tank was installed by a contractor who wasn't paying attention, it may have been installed without a vent. Surprisingly, this happens. Without having a proper vent, the odours and gases from the tank will come up through the drains, making the kitchen and bathroom into the stinkiest rooms in the house. If you notice the odour mostly after showering then this is likely the case.of septic tank odours in the house.

Chemistry Problems

Some things simply shouldn't go down into the septic tank. These can cause problems with the decomposition of your sewage and lead to problems in your septic tank. Basically, you want to avoid letting cooking grease, oil or fat, industrial cleaning products, paints, solvents, feminine hygiene products, condoms, antibiotics and other expired medications, antifreeze, transmission fluid, or gasoline go down the drain. The disruption of the sewage breakdown can cause pungent septic tank odours.

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About the Author

Lisa Russell has been a writer since 1998. She's been published in Rethinking Everything Magazine, Playdate, AERO and Home Educator's Family Times. She has a Bachelor of Science in business marketing management and a professional background in marketing, education, cosmetology and hospitality.