Signs of Septic Failure

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There are many signs you can keep an eye out for that could indicate an issue with your septic system. These signs don't necessarily mean a system is completely failing, but it does mean you should contact a septic professional to take a look at your system and check for problems. It's better to catch issues early to avoid more costly repairs in the future.


  • Slow-draining fixtures
  • Sewage backing up into the house
  • The ground above the drainfield is soggy with unusually lush growth
  • Strong sewage odor
  • Sewage surfacing on the ground over the drainfield
  • Sewage surfacing around the tank

If you notice your fixtures are draining slowly or sewage is backing up into the house, this can indicate a problem with your tank or drainfield. If you try cleaning out your fixtures and that doesn't solve the problem, call a contractor. If the ground above your drainfield is soggy, growing unusually lush vegetation, or your yard suddenly stinks of sewage, you should schedule an inspection. If you start to see sewage surfacing on the ground around your tank or drainfield, that's a definite sign of a problem and you should call a septic professional immediately. While not all of these signs mean your system is failing, they can be good indicators that something is wrong. Contact a certified professional to inspect your system and determine next steps.


Additional problems you can look out for are: 

  • Tree or plant roots infiltrating your tank or drainfield
  • Cracks, leaks, and clogs in your system
  • An overaccumulation of waste in your tank

If you notice any of these things happening it doesn't necessarily mean your system is failing, it just means you may need to hire a contractor to make some repairs or pump your tank. If you don't fix these things after noticing them, it could lead to more severe problems down the line.

View a printable handout with signs of a failing septic system