Septic Tank Backups, Leaks, Odors
If sewage is backing up inside your home’s drains or surfacing outside, or if you notice odors around your
home, your septic system may be failing. The most likely culprits:
- Lack of maintenance — If solid waste builds up too high, it can be forced out of the tank and into the
drainfield, where it clogs the gravel and soil. This can cause wastewater to back up or erupt from the ground.
- Missing, broken or worn fittings — Tee fittings and baffles are tank parts designed to slow down the
inflow and outflow of wastewater. The goal — to give bacteria time to digest waste and allow for
separation of solids, grease, and scum from liquid. If these fittings are broken, the system fails to work as it
- Age — Some septic tanks that were permitted under the outdated "perc" soil testing method are
installed in soils that would not pass a site review today. Also, different factors, including routine
maintenance, can affect the longevity of a septic system. No septic system is designed to last forever.
- Incorrect installation — Tanks facing backward, unlevel drainfield parts, soil compacted by heavy
equipment — a lot can go wrong during installation.
- Improper use — When more people live in a home than the home was designed for, it can create problems. For
instance, a septic tank designed for a three bedroom home that is later converted to rental property that
“sleeps 12” will be prone to failure.
See our septic tank
Flooding - What to Do
When grass outlines the tank or drainfield, it’s a sign of a leak or other problem.
An exposed septic tank pit filled to ground level with nasty looking backed-up septic tank waste.
Your Legal Responsibility
If DHEC receives a complaint about a failing septic system or tracks a pollution issue to a septic tank, the owner
will receive a notice telling them they are in violation of Regulation 61-56 and must repair
their failing septic tank system. We usually allow 10 days for the repair.
South Carolina does not provide any funding or financing options for individual homeowners to help repair or replace
failing septic systems or new home septic system installation.
are the best and cheapest way to keep your septic system in good working order.