Causes And Solutions For Unpleasant Septic Tank Odors

All the waste in your home is decomposed and stored in a septic tank. Bacteria in the tank eat away at the waste, keeping it at a manageable level. However, some septic tanks can develop an odor if there are not adequate bacteria in the tank and the pH levels become too acidic. Learn the primary causes of septic tank odors and how you can eliminate these unpleasant smells.

Causes of Septic Tank Odors

  • Full Septic Tank: The most common reason for septic tank odors is a full tank. According to the Regional District of Nanaimo, most septic tanks require pumping every 3 to 5 years.  
  • Clogged Septic Tank: Some tanks require a vent which prevents sewage gasses from escaping the system. Occasionally, vents can become clogged, resulting in an odor.  
  • Covered Septic Tank Vent: If your home has been altered or remodeled since the installation of the septic tank, the vent may have become covered in the process. This can cause an odor due to the covered septic tank vent.  
  • Tank Chemistry Issues: Flushing certain items that should not be flushed down the toilet can result in chemistry problems in the septic tank. Items like paints, plastics, antibiotics, and gasoline can disturb the decomposition process, causing an offensive odor.

Solutions for Septic Tank Odors

  • Flush Baking Soda: Baking soda is a powerful cleaning agent that can help keep the septic tank's pH levels at the proper levels. Pour a cup of baking soda down the toilet or drain once a week to absorb odors and deodorize the septic tank.  
  • Avoid Excessive Water: Don't pour too much water into the toilet. Pouring too much water quickly dilutes the present baking soda, reducing its effects.  
  • Pour Vinegar Down the Drain: Pour a cup of white vinegar down the drain. This natural disinfectant works as a strong deodorizer and kills the bacteria in the septic tank responsible for emitting the bad odors.  
  • Don't Flush Certain Items: You should never flush certain items down the drain as the microorganisms may not be able to digest them. Avoid items like coffee grounds, cigarette butts, facial tissues, and plastics.  
  • Combine Soap and Water: Combine a bucket of hot water with a few drops of mild dish soap. Pour the water and soap combination down the drain. The soapy water mixture will help get rid of any septic tank odors that have developed.  
  • Rinse the Drain Cover: The drain cover can accumulate bacteria and sludge, which can result in offensive odors. Remove the drain cover and clean it with hot water and soap.  
  • Get Rid of Potential Clogs: If you suspect a clog, use a plunger or pour a drain cleaning agent to help get rid of the blockage. Clogs can be a major source of bad odors.  
  • Have the Tank Serviced: It's crucial to have your septic tank serviced on a regular basis to ensure that it stays in good condition. During a servicing, your tank will be thoroughly pumped and cleaned to get rid of the accumulated waste.

Many homeowners wait until there is a problem with their septic system before they undergo any maintenance. It's important to have your septic tank serviced before these problems arise. When your septic tank is properly pumped and cleaned, the sludge and scum layers are removed and the leaching portion of the tank is able to take a brief break.

Septic odors do not always indicate the need to pump your septic tank. If you are experiencing an unpleasant odor coming from your septic tank, call in a professional to diagnose and treat the problem. For more information about septic system maintenance, contact a professional.


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