Owners of septic tanks may find that they forget they’re there, whether its because they’re so used to having one or they’ve never had one before so the thought never comes to their mind. This can, of course, be an advantage of them but only as long as they are running under normal conditions. At DT Groundworks, we believe it’s worth knowing what the potential issues with a septic tank can be so that you’re not caught off-guard when something does go wrong.

Now, there is actually very little that can go wrong with the septic tank itself, but they can suffer from structural damage or deteriorate if they are very old. However, the majority of problems that you face with septic tanks is from the plumbing or their soakaway system.

No matter how well your septic tank is fitted, eventually it will run into problems – either the septic tank itself or the soakaway system or both – because that is the nature of them. Let’s get into some of the potential problems you could face.


Of course, one of the most common problems you’ll face with your septic tank or sewage treatment system is the same as any plumbing system you will come across and that is blockages. These can occur in the pipe that connects your home plumbing to your septic tank and is one of the easiest problems to solve within your septic tank system. Although, you may find that is harder to fix if it is not caused by household waste and occurs due to tree roots growing into the drainage pipes. You need to get a professional to find the best way to resolve this issue, so get in touch today.


If you’re somewhere that has recently been through an exceptionally wet period, you may find that your drainage system may overflow with effluent appearing at ground level or your pipes becoming backed up. If your septic tank effluent somehow finds its way into local streams, no matter how this happens, you should know that it needs to be replaced by a sewage treatment plant due to the new septic tank regulations that are coming into place in 2020. This should be completed well in advance of this date, so you have time to get it fitted as the process can take a few weeks.


Improper maintenance of your soakaway system can lead to the surrounding soil becoming clogged with sludge and scum that hasn’t been removed from your septic system on schedule. It is recommended that your tank is emptied every 3 years or the build-up can leak into the soakaway. This is, in fact, the most common problem we see with septic tank systems, so it is very important to have a regular maintenance system in place. If it isn’t, the drainage pipes can become perforated or the soil surrounding the soakaway can easily become clogged.

This problem is easy to detect as you will begin to notice unpleasant smells, wet spots in your garden or a large amount of green growth around the system. You could also start to see that your waste system is taking longer than usual to clear and back up can be seen in the bath or shower. Any problems that occur with your soakaway will persist even if your septic tank is emptied regularly, so it well worth keeping an eye on.

Irregular Maintenance

However, one of the most worrying causes of septic tanks breaking is that they have not being emptied as often as is recommended. As a general rule, septic tanks only have the capacity to hold roughly one year’s worth of sludge and should be emptied on a regular basis. This problem can be exacerbated when more people are using the system more regularly. Mostly, this occurs when someone has moved into a house that previously only had a couple of people living in it and this number increases to four or five. If this happens to you, you may find that the septic system cannot keep up with the extra daily flow.