Septic systems are often put on the back burner of a homeowner’s mind. However, these systems are the unsung heroes for people all over the continental U.S. as a vital part of every day life. When something starts to go wrong with the septic system, it can be hazardous to the health of you and your family if left to fester. This article will go over some of the most common septic system problems, causes and possible solutions.

Clogs and/or BackupsImage result for backed up sink

This is probably the most obvious sign that something is wrong with your septic system. The most common cause is that the tank hasn’t been pumped for quite some time. Without routine pumping, the solids in septic tanks will build up and can reduce the tanks holding capacity. Another reason they might back up is improper disposal of household products. These products include: grease, gauze, diapers, excessive toilet paper, paper towels, feminine products, the list goes on.

Another reason for a backup is that your septic tank filters are clogged. The tank filters protect your drain field, keeping it from being overloaded with solids. Thankfully, all you have to do is pull out the filter and hose it off with your garden hose. Keep an eye out for any problems with the filter, or have a professional come and clean the filter. In order to avoid a clogged or backed up system, make sure to watch what substances are going down the pipes. Make sure you have your septic tank pumped regularly to keep it in pristine condition.

Tree Roots

Image result for tree with rootsThis is another common problem with septic tanks, especially as they are not routinely maintained. Tree roots are naturally attracted to the moist, nutrient dense waste that is held in the septic tanks and lines. Tree roots will slowly work their way around the tank and lines, looking for leaking fissures or holes. Once they find these weak spots, they creep into the system and expand the holes, which create problems, like backups.

Reputable plumbers will take into account the locations of trees on your property when installing your septic system. However, tree roots can make their way far from its main body. There are chemicals that you can flush or wash down your drains that will help keep roots away from your septic system. There are also root barriers, made from plastic or other materials, that are buried around the septic system to keep roots from reaching it. The best way to make sure that roots to infiltrate your septic system is with routine “check-ups” and maintenance.

Digging Damage

Image result for digging
One thing that homeowners might forget when doing a home project, is to locate their septic tank and drain field. If you are doing a home improvement project in your yard, and you have a septic system, you don’t want to start digging until you know the locations of the lines and tank. Homeowners can do this easily enough by calling in a locate technician. However, even with locates, accidents still happen sometimes, causing damage to your septic system. If you plan on doing any excavating soon, ask your plumbers to mark the locations as best they can, or call and have a locator do it for you.

Sewer Smells in the Home

Image result for sewer smellAnother obvious sign that there is a problem with your septic system is a distinct sewage smell lingering in your home. This problem typically is an indicator that there is a clog in the septic system ventilation. The best thing to do when you notice this is call and have your plumber come clean out the vent. This will help avoid the gas buildup in your home.


So, if you notice a smelly aroma, backed up sewage in your home, slow draining or you’re worried your tree roots might cause problems in your future, call us today so we can come make sure your septic system is set up for success!

One of the unsung, often forgotten heroes of every home is the plumbing. Whether it’s a sewer system or a septic tank system, the plumbing in your house is a vital part of your everyday life. From washing dishes, to bathing children and pets, to doing the laundry, all these things require a pristine  plumbing system.

plumbing problemsHow do you know when something just isn’t quite right with your plumbing system?

What are some signs to look for that indicate something might be wrong?

In this article, we will talk about some common problems with your septic system, what might be causing them and what needs to be done to fix them.

However, before we get into the article remember this: regular septic tank cleanings will go a long way in preserving and maintaining your system.

Check your lawnpooling in septic field


Probably the most obvious sign that your septic tank needs attention is pooling water. When you see pools of water on the lawn around the septic system drain field, its very possible that your septic tank is overflowing. When septic tanks get full, solid waste could be clogging drain fields pipe system, forcing the fluid to the top of the ground. This is a clear indicator that your septic tank needs to be pumped.

septic drain field growth

Lush grass

In contrast to the flooded lawn, an uncharacteristically healthy lawn is also a sign for concern. Just because there is a septic tank beneath part of your lawn, doesn’t mean that there should be any color difference from the rest of your lawn. If the grass atop your septic tank is lush and vibrant green, this could mean that your septic system is leaking water somehow. It is either full or damaged. Regardless of the cause, you need to call in the professionals.


Indoor plumbing signalsslow water drainage

Slow drains

If you’ve noticed that the drains in your home have slowed considerably, this could be a clear sign that your septic tank is full. If you’ve done all the septic-tank-friendly DIY fixes to help unclog your system, then it is time to call in a professional to come and assess the situation, and most likely drain your septic tank. It might sound redundant, but the solution to most septic tank issues is to have it pumped.

septic backupOdor

A clear indication that your septic tank needs your attention is, if you start to notice an unpleasant but unmistakable odor. As mentioned before, your septic tank collects all the dirty water that you expel from your house, like baths, laundry, dishes and your toilet. All that black water is a great cocktail for a scent that nobody wants to smell. This is a great time to have someone come out and empty your septic tank before the problem gets worse.

Sewage backupseptic backup in basement

Probably the most dramatic indication of a problem is sewer backup. This is also the most dangerous symptom that your septic tank needs attention. This is the ultimate cry for help from your septic tank. When the sewage backs up it will be in your lowest drains first, then the rest of them if its not dealt with soon. If this happens to you, don’t try to clean it by yourself! This problem is a hazardous waste issue needs to be dealt with immediately by professionals with the right hazard-safe equipment.

septic problemsConclusion

Don’t let a needy septic tank get in the way of your daily life.  The best way to make sure none of these things happen to you is to have your septic tank cleaned regularly. Call us today to schedule an appointment so one of our technicians can come make sure your septic tank is getting enough attention.

The internet is rife with crazy ideas for just about any information you are searching for to meet your home care needs. A Popular Mechanics article by Roy Berendsohn tackled a question like that last year about one urban myth concerning septic tank pumping.

Here is the question:

“’I’ve heard that tossing a whole dead chicken into my septic tank lessens the need to have the tank pumped because the bacterial action created by the rotting carcass is effective at breaking down sewage. True?”

Berendsohn said he actually spoke with people in the 1980s who had been doing the dead chicken thing, or using rotting hamburger or roadkill, to keep the job of pumping their septic tanks at bay. Unfortunately, this theory about coaxing decomposition is NOT the way to go.
The rotting carcass theory has the effect of pushing harmful pollution out of one’s septic tank, through the pipes and leach field, and into the groundwater. This can represent a major hazard to your general community.

Enough of this nonsense!

Yes, pumping your septic tank is a nasty, disagreeable job, but taking care of it on a regular basis protects your property from septic system disasters, which are even more disagreeable.
The real way to protect your septic system and ensure its longevity.

Pipeline, the newsletter for The National Environmental Services Center, recommends these basic steps for septic system maintenance.

Septic system location

Do you even know where your septic system is? Yes, septic system professionals can have trouble finding some systems, so don’t be shy about getting help. Knowledge is power, and a septic system professional can help you find your system components if you’re not sure where they are.
Here are three steps septic professionals may use to locate your system if there is no above-ground marker such as a septic tank riser.
• A look in the basement can provide helpful information for locating your septic system such as noting the direction your sewage pipes leave your house through the wall.
• When the inspector goes back outside, he can insert an insulated probe into the soil that will help locate buried pipes.
• Once your professional locates the septic system, it is important to draw a map that you can keep. This saves steps later.

Pipe Connections

Your septic professional may want to take a few steps to check the pipe connections in your home. This procedure can include flushing toilets, running the washing machine for one cycle, and running water into the sinks.

Find the manhole and inspection ports

This will require digging if you don’t use tank risers or elevated access covers. So, once you access the tank, Pipeline recommends installing one of these above-ground methods of easy tank identification.

Annual system inspections

These ensure that your septic system is working properly. Additionally, a regular septic tank evaluation provides you with the information you need to know how often your septic tank should be pumped.

Sludge and scum layers in your septic tank are indicators of your tank condition. Your annual inspection should include measuring the sludge and scum layers in your tank. Inspectors can do this by inserting a tool through your tank’s inspection port.

Additionally, septic inspectors should check all parts of the tank to verify that there are no cracks.

Drainfield Problems in Your Septic System

According to the Washington State Department of Health, some indications of drainfield problems may include the following:

  • Foul order around your property
  • Bright green, spongy grass near your drainfield or over your septic tank
  • Damp spots or standing water near your outdoor septic system components

Help for Septic Tank Pumping

The Pipeline article (Pg. 2) provides a guidance chart for septic tank pumping frequency. So, don’t rely on any crazy dead chicken myths when approaching your septic system health; it’s just too important. If you feel that your knowledge about septic system maintenance and tank pumping is limited and you live in or around Knoxville, contact the experts at J & J Septic to schedule your service. You may also call them at (865) 622-4428.

Knoxville Christmas Septic Tank ServicesIs your Septic Tank ready for the surge of people that are coming over for the holidays? The holidays are here again, and as usual, family and friends will come to your home to celebrate the spirit of love and togetherness. As the Christmas season fast approaches, probably you’ve already begun planning Thanksgiving menus and dinners, or even preparing additional sleeping accommodations for your guests. Hosting Christmas parties at your home can easily wreak your septic system if you’re not well prepared. No one loves having a clogged toilet during Christmas festivities, especially with the entire family and friends around.

Ensure your kitchens and bathrooms run smoothly during the festive season

The best approach to this festive season is to take precaution to ensure your kitchens and bathrooms run smoothly during the festive season. If you’re going to host a large family, it’s vital you make the essential preparations when it comes to your septic system to prevent incidents that may ruin your Christmas holiday. Here’s a short yet often ignored list of things to do when it comes to keeping Septic Tank ready for the Holidays.

Ensure your septic tank is pumped before the holiday season.

While it’s good to manage and limit water usage to avoid blockages and overfilling your Septic Pumping system, this will almost be impossible with a huge number of people around your house. Expect an increased bathroom and kitchen water use that comes with additional visitors. This is why you should prepare your tank by pumping it before the holidays. This hands-on approach will guarantee your septic tank won’t overflow when you need it the most.

Inform your visitors a “do not flush list.”

This is because most people who are connected to the main city sewer tend to flush everything down the drain, including items that are prohibited from septic systems. This includes washing trash and hard foods down the drain, emptying any kitchen grease or oils down drains, flushing tampons, excessive toilet paper, sanitary napkins, wipes and diapers down the drain. These will not only damage your septic tank but may also block your drainage system. Instead of washing these items down the toilet or sink, place them in the compost or garbage bag. Even if you own a garbage disposal system, you shouldn’t wash hard food down the drain because they don’t break the food waste products into the required size.

Educate your guests on efficient water use practices and how the septic system functions. Inform them of the effects of overusing water while showering, when washing dishes and doing laundry and when using the restroom. This can also cause your septic tank to overflow and backup.

Use an additive

Lastly, you can also use an additive. This will keep your septic tank healthy throughout your festive season. Additives have natural bacteria that help in breaking down solids in your Septic Pumping. Just use one packet to keep your septic tank healthy, and you’ll be assured of a perfect holiday.

Following these tips will make sure that your Septic Tank is ready for the Holidays. Also, consider hiring experts to perform checkups on your septic tank to ensure that it works efficiently.

We have come a long way with modern plumbing that we hardly even notice that we have drains and sewer. Unless the bath spigot turns a bloody red or the toilet overflows, exorcists, and plumbers will usually be the last things on our minds. Nowadays we just push a button or lever and get rid of waste without ever having to see it or even think of it once it goes down the drain. This article pulls you back from the fancy clean household spaces and to the backyard, where the green patch of grass leads to the covering of the septic system.

According to the American Ground Water Trust, up to a third of American households have a septic treatment system in their homes. These systems are made to be simple in that most of the effluent from the property leads to one pipe that empties into a septic tank in the yard. The system combines the waste water from the washing machine, sinks, shower, and toilet, all of which drain into the septic tank. In the tank, the mixture of solid and liquid waste starts to decompose. The heaviest material known as sludge typically sinks to the bottom of the tank, while the proteins, oils, and fats known as scum float on top of a middle layer made mostly of grey water known as effluent. The combination of all these layers is called septage.

Most septic systems are made to discharge the effluent from the system onto drain fields and leave the scum and sludge behind. This is achieved through a set of pipes in the tank that takes the effluent and releases it below ground where it is absorbed into the ground. Given how much organic material is in the effluent, the yard where it is discharged is typically the most fertile portion of yard on the property.

Septic systems may be some of the simplest installations on your property but you still need to monitor them if you do not want a mess on your hands. The thing with septic systems is that once the problem becomes big enough to notice, it will be time to bring in the big guns as simple solutions just will not do. Unfortunately simple as they are, fixing big problems with your septic systems could require labor and labor that could run a bill into thousands of dollars. As such, it is critical to perform regular maintenance on the system, so that you can notice slam problems before they morph into big expensive ones.

Is it a Good Idea to Pump Your Septic Tank?

Even if you have a healthy septic tank system where the microbial system is working as it should breaking down the septage, and disposing of the effluent on a good drain field, over time the tank will have a buildup of scum and sludge. That is why it is so critical to perform regular pumping of your tank. It always works best to pump your tank when the scum has risen to about 6 inches from the outlet pipe or when the sludge layer is about 12 inches from the scum. You need to be extra vigilant to know when your septage reaches these milestones so that you can act at the appropriate time.

The most appropriate period for checking the levels in the septic tank that has been found to work really well is about a year. The typical inspection will involve measuring the levels of the scum and sludge, checking to ensure that the mechanisms and pipes are working as they should and that the drain field is filtering the effluent efficiently. According to the EPA, An average sized septic tank system has to be pumped at intervals of between one to three years.

Some septic tank owners that do not want to pump the tank so regularly, have resorted to buying products that claim to break down the sludge. However, the claims of most the manufacturers of such products often turn out to be wildly exaggerated. For one, the additives do nothing to enhance the microbial reactions in your tank, and will at the worst mess with the natural ecosystem in the tank making it more difficult to break down waste. The EPA recommends that homeowners need to only do the traditional pumping and inspections and their tanks should be fine.

If you do not want your system to overflow, you need to set up a regular pumping schedule. Sometimes the overflow can back up into the house when the drain and toilets spew back what should be going into the septic tank. Overflow can also be bad for the drain field, which could be flooded with a sudden cascade of untreated waste. The overflow can cause havoc underground, where it can drain into underground water, while above ground it can run off into rivers and creeks or flood your yard. This could be very dangerous to human health, as unprocessed waste could contaminate drinking water with nasty bacteria and harmful diseases such as hepatitis.

From Yuck to Eureka!: How to Dispose of Septage

Any neighborhood or city with a lot of homes having onsite septic tank systems typically attracts local businesses that specialize in the removal of sludge and sum from those tanks. These services serve a critical role in preventing overflow from sludge buildup, which can be bad for not only the homeowner but others in the vicinity too.

Septic tank pumping will typically involve a thorough cleaning of the tank to remove all the scum, sludge, and effluent. Not so long ago, waste companies used to dump the waste they had picked up from onsite septic tanks in dumpsites. Thankfully the practice has now been outlawed given that it is a huge health hazard.

State and federal laws now govern what happens to household waste when it is removed from your septic tank. In some instances, the septage is combined with the waste from municipal sewer systems, taken to waste treatment plants, or transported to businesses that treat sewage. At the processing centers, the septage is treated with biological and chemical processes, which break it down into less harmful effluent. There are a few cases of septage being dumped in a landfill but under strict guidelines.

Given how complicated the disposal of septage can be, septage has found other uses including growing food. According to the USDA, if you have ever had any food that did not have the USDA Organic label, it is very probable that the food may have been grown using sludge as a fertilizer.

The use of septage as a fertilizer can stir up a lot of controversy. Those for it, which include most of the farmers benefiting, assert that everyone wins with the solution as farmers get fertilizer on the cheap, while municipalities do not have to deal with finding ways to safely get rid of the waste. Proponents argue that the septage as fertilizer should cause no hazard if it is applied to farmland in the appropriate way. Just like a drain field filters effluent, farmland should filter the sludge and leave water sources uncontaminated.

The latest use of septage is even edgier as it has been tapped to make electricity that can power homes. The Methane that is produced from the breakdown of sewage material can be tapped to make electricity. Methane can be used to power fuel cells at treatment plants, which can then be used to make electricity. What is even better is that this method of generation does not produce any pollution yet it packs quite a punch. A CNBC article reported that one such system made enough power that could be used by up to 1000 homes. I bet you never knew how much power lay in your septic tank.

The pumping and cleaning of septic tanks is a highly specialized job that any truck operator will accept quickly. Not only is it physically demanding but also dangerous due to its potential exposure to highly toxic substances and gases. The proper handling of hazardous materials is essential, as it could cause serious illness or death if not done correctly. For these reasons, each septic service must ensure that operators are adequately trained in the safety procedures involved not only in the use of the equipment but also in the handling of toxic materials to protect themselves and others. environment.


Septic Pump truck operators must pay maximum attention to two points during handling: during the execution of the actual work, during the emptying and cleaning of the equipment. Both can have equally devastating results if not done correctly, exposing the owners of a company to fines and other sanctions. Even the most attentive operators can have an accident. Therefore, it is essential that all employees are well trained, understand and comply with all corporate security procedures.

Protection of the work.

Below you will find several important points to consider when working on a property.


Septic tanks should be opened with extreme caution since solid waste can decompose and release toxic gases that fill the tank. Hydrogen sulfide and methane can cause a large explosion, be extremely toxic and suffocate or kill a person who breathes deeply. Bacteria are also present in the decomposition materials that could be harmful by direct contact. Therefore, it is essential to use safety equipment that includes a respirator, gloves, and protective clothing.


Naturally, dangerous gases can explode if sparks or flames occur. It is strictly forbidden to smoke or use any type of flame due to these gases.


During the aspiration of a septic tank, operators must be very careful since this procedure requires much more than waiting for a container to be filled. When materials are transferred from the tank to the truck container, gas, pressure, and temperature can accumulate. Any material left in the container with previous work can cause a chemical reaction. Workers should closely monitor the temperature and pressure indicators to detect any problems.

Protection of waste disposal.

Once the septic tank has been sucked safely and successfully, the disposal of toxic waste is the second safety concern.


Operators should know where approved landfills are located and should be able to document the type of equipment being transported to avoid toxic reactions, spills or other accidents. All rules established by the landfill or by any government agency must be followed strictly.


Vehicle maintenance must be carried out regularly to avoid possible system failures during the diving procedure.


Once the tank of the truck is empty, it must be cleaned thoroughly, since leaving a clean truck for the next operation is a very important safety measure. As mentioned above, any material left in a truck tank that can be mixed with new material from a future job could eventually cause a chemical reaction that would cause at least some delays during the treatment of the problem and, what is worse, could blow up the tank.


In the end, job security depends on the training of employees and the diligence required for the following precautionary measures; This must be required by each company. Accidents related to septic pumping can seem an unpleasant annoyance; Realistically, it could be much more serious than that. Appropriate safety methods are essential to provide safe and complete septic services and to reduce potential risks!