A common belief is that if a septic alarm goes off, the septic tank needs pumping. That is NOT true! Septic alarms have absolutely nothing to do with the septic tank.
Septic alarms are an urgent warning that something is wrong in the pump tank (also called the dose tank). What is a pump tank? Pump tanks are typically only several hundred gallons, which is much smaller than your septic tank. After the solids have settled to the bottom of your septic tank, the remaining relatively clean water in the septic tank, called effluent, is ready to be returned to the environment. A properly functioning septic system sends this effluent to the pump tank, where it can be pumped up and out to the drain field or sand mound.
A sewage effluent pump in the pump tank is used to pump the effluent up and out of the pump tank and send it to your sand mound or elevated drain field. The sewage effluent pump is extremely heavy duty and is designed to work in harsh wastewater environments. When effluent arrives in the pump tank from the septic tank, floats automatically turn the sewage effluent pump on. When the effluent has been pumped out, the floats turn the pump off.
Septic alarms are tripped or triggered when the sewage effluent pump SHOULD have come on, but did not. That means the effluent arriving in the pump tank is NOT being pumped up and out to the sand mound or elevated drain field.
This is an emergency situation, because once the effluent reaches the top of the pump tank, it has nowhere to go. Depending on the water usage in the house, within a matter of hours the septic tank can back up into the house.
There are several basic reasons why the effluent or sewage wastewater pump did not come on when it should have, and why the septic alarm went off:
The good news is that we offer a full range of septic system pumping and repairs, and that includes problems like these. If your septic alarm goes off, the first thing we do is send a technician and one of our big orange Berks Septic pump trucks to empty your septic tank and pump tank. This will IMMEDIATELY remove the threat of a sewage backup into your house for a week or so, depending on how much water you use in your house. After pumping, we send an expert pump repair technician to troubleshoot and identify the cause of the problem (electrical, floats or effluent pump), and then we fix it!
So if your septic alarm goes off, call us right away and we'll get to work on the problem!
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Randy Weeber, RE/MAX of Reading
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