Maintenance Tips to Stop Septic Tank Smells

Does your septic tank smell bad? A funky odor coming from a septic system is a sign that something is amiss. Whether the septic tank smells in the house or the septic tank smells in the yard, odors indicate there’s an issue. And while the problem could be minor, unfortunately, it might be significant. In any event, if it stinks, it has to be fixed!

What causes the septic tank smell in the house? Smelling septic tank odor indicates something inside the plumbing lines is not working correctly. Septic tank odor problems can be traced to a build-up of gases including hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide and methane. 

The system’s microorganisms can’t digest these gases as they are too acidic. A dry trap – the seal used to keep out sewer gas – is often a source. If the water in the trap evaporates due to lack of use of a shower or toilet or due to a clog or blockage, the smelly gases will enter the home.

Beyond being unpleasant, septic tank smell can be harmful. A too-high concentration of a combination of the gases – known as sewer gas – can be hazardous. Thus, a septic tank smell in the house is dangerous. Besides possibly proving costly to repair, a dysfunctional septic system can explode if the gases build up to an unsafe level.

Septic tank odor can also be toxic, as inhalation can cause hydrogen sulfide poisoning. Low levels of exposure to hydrogen sulfide causes irritation of the eyes and respiratory tract. Prolonged exposure causes other symptoms, including nervousness, dizziness, nausea, headache, drowsiness and even loss of smell. 

How to Get Rid of Sewer Smell from a Septic Tank

  • The easiest way to stop a septic tank from starting to smell is to tackle the causes of odors before they start. Consult a professional home inspector or septic tank service to determine a recommended pumping schedule. The “how often” will depend on the tank size and usage levels. But an overly full tank is almost sure to smell eventually. 
  • Treat drains and toilets with a cup of baking soda weekly for a very doable D.I.Y septic tank smell remedy. This will help maintain a desirable pH level (between 6.8 and 7.6) in the tank for the microorganisms. After pouring baking soda into the drains, limit the water used for several hours. Any excess liquid will flush the baking soda out of the tank before the microorganisms have digested it, limiting its effectiveness. While an effective method to stop a septic tank from smelling in many cases, major issues with a system will still require repairs.

Practice Good Septic Tank Maintenance

Don’t Allow the Tank to Become Too Full

  • Too much matter in the tanks causes clogs and back-up, which in turn causes that rotten egg smell to permeate the home. Pump out the waste as recommended by an experienced home inspector. Regular pumping is critical in keeping the system in good repair. The usual schedule is every three to five years.

Make Sure Roof Vents Are Kept Clear

  • When a plumbing vent stack isn’t functioning, the air pressure in the pipes cannot equalize, so waste doesn’t flow at the correct rate. This can cause a septic tank smell from the roof vent or a septic tank smell in shower drains as they run slower. Ensure vents aren’t blocked by debris such as leaves or snow. Blockages should be cleared promptly and may require a professional. 

Install an Activated Carbon Cover

  • If a septic tank starts to smell, mounting an activated carbon filter over the top of the vent will help dissipate strong, unpleasant odors. While this accessory is excellent for managing odor, if the issue is systemic, it can only mask any underlying problem. A qualified home inspector can help identify if there is a bigger problem.

Clearly, the most efficient way to address any ongoing problems with septic tank smell is with the help of a professional. Owned and operated by Bobby Davidson, a licensed, certified and veteran home inspector, HomePro Chesapeake Home Inspections provides home inspection services for residential and commercial properties in Annapolis County and the Eastern Shore, including Caroline County, Kent County, Queen’s County and Talbot Counting, plus Kent Island. 

How Can We Help

If you need knowledgeable advice on stopping septic tank smells, schedule an appointment with HomePro Chesapeake Home Inspections. With a reputation for terrific service and transparency, HomePro Chesapeake Home Inspections will perform the necessary checks to determine the cause of the issue and identify the best steps for how to get rid of the sewer smell from the septic tank.

HomePro Chesapeake Home Inspections

Septic Inspections for Annapolis County and the Eastern Shore, including Caroline County, Kent County, Queen’s County and Talbot County, plus Kent Island.

Contact Bobby Davidson at HomePro Chesapeake Home Inspection for questions.

See our full list of property inspections services.

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