You've just got home from work and hear an odd buzzing type noise coming from your basement — it's the septic alarm. What do you do now and what could be the problem? Here, you'll find a little information about sounding septic tank alarms and what to do when they go off.
Stop Draining Water!
Right now, make sure that everyone in the home knows not to run any water down the drains or flush the toilets. Every little bit of water that goes into the septic system counts at this point. Too much, and it'll end up backing up into your basement. If you have to, shut off the water main so that nobody can run the water in the house.
Check the Breaker
Go to the breaker panel and check the breaker for the septic tank. If it's tripped, try resetting it and giving the system a few minutes to work. At that point, reset the alarm on the septic tank and see what happens. If the power being restored to the pump fixed it, the alarm shouldn't sound. If it's still buzzing, this did not fix your problem.
Tug the Float
Septic pumps function with a float system. When so much water gets into the tank, the float rises. Once it reaches a certain point, it activates the pump and pulls the water through the system into the leech bed or sand mound.
Sometimes, the components corrode or become coated with debris and the float does not trigger the pump. Get a long stick with a hanger attached to the end of it. Send it down into the tank and feel for the float. If you're lucky, you'll be able to snag the float just enough to pull it upwards. At that point, the pump should kick on. If not, the pump likely needs to be replaced.
Have the Tanks Emptied
The only way to get to the pump and the pipes in the septic system is to have the tanks emptied. This isn't something that you can do on your own — contact your local septic tank services professional to have them come out with their truck and pump the contents of the septic tanks out.
Note that your septic tank should be emptied about every three years — more often if the system is overworked. Your septic professional will be able to help you decide a good schedule to follow for servicing the system.
This is a dirty, stinky, messy job, but it's one that needs done. If you don't feel comfortable taking it on yourself, don't do it. Call in the professionals. For more information, contact companies like Roto Rooter.