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    Do’s and Don'ts When Your Septic Alarm Goes Off

    Septic Tank

    First of all, when your septic alarm goes off, don't panic. It's not a fire alarm and may not even indicate an emergency. However, it does probably mean you'll need to get the issue diagnosed and repaired. If you have a septic alarm connected to a timer, here are some reasons why the alarm may be going off:

    • There's an actual septic function problem, such as a blockage in the field lines causing high levels in the tank
    • There's too much water in the ground right now (perhaps due to a rainstorm), causing a temporary high tank liquid level
    • There's too much water in the tank because you somehow overwhelmed it
    • The alarm itself is malfunctioning, perhaps due to an electrical short or a detached float
    • The septic pump may need to be replaced
    • The septic tank may have a leak (the kind that lets extra water get into the tank from the ground)
    • The circuit breaker to the alarm just tripped randomly
    That's quite a list, so you may be wondering, where does that leave you? What should you do when the alarm goes off? Here are some do's and don'ts.
    Don't Keep Using Water
    One of the more serious possibilities is that your tank is getting loaded down with too much wastewater and has nowhere to put it all. If this is the case, you certainly don't want to be adding to that. After all, if there's nowhere else for it to go, the water will just start backing up into your home. So avoid using your drains and toilets until the problem is solved.
    Do Check the Circuit Breaker and Give the Tank Time to Rest
    Your best-case scenario here is that the circuit breaker randomly tripped. But if resetting the breaker doesn't fix the problem, the next best-case scenario is that there's nothing wrong with the tank, but you just asked it to process more waste than it's rated for.
    So if you've washed several weeks' worth of laundry today, maybe the system just needs a little time. You can try waiting a few hours, without letting any water down the drains or toilets, and see if that fixes the problem. However, you may not want to wait a few hours in some cases. You don't want to end up calling for emergency service in the middle of the night.
    Don't Ignore the Alarm
    It's not a fire alarm, but your septic alarm does indicate that there's a problem with your system. So don't wait more than about 15 hours to get it checked out (or less if you really need to use your drains). This could mean the difference between being able to flush your toilets later and having sewage backup in your bathroom by the weekend.
    Do Check for Other Symptoms
    If your septic tank is experiencing problems and is about to back up into your house, there will likely be other symptoms as well. For example:
    • A compromised septic system can cause slow, smelly, or noisy drains
    • A system with leach field failure may have soggy ground above the leach field
    • A tank with a leak may have surface puddles nearby or strange odors coming from it
    If you've noticed these or any other common signs of septic trouble recently, be sure to tell your septic contractor about them to aid in the diagnosis.
    Do Call Your Septic Repair Company
    Once you've checked the circuit breaker and decided whether you want to give the tank a little time to recover or not, it's time to call your septic company. Whether all you need is a new float for your alarm or whether you need significant leach field restoration, calling for professional help is the only way to go.
    These do's and don'ts will help you take practical steps when your septic alarm goes off rather than panicking or simply ignoring it. Whatever the issue is, Hines Septic can help you get things under control again. If you need a septic alarm diagnosed and repaired in the Chesapeake area, be sure to give use a call.
    Contact Information


    1828 Mount Pleasant Road, Chesapeake, VA 23322

    Hours of Operation
    Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
    Emergency Service Available

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