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What Causes Septic Tank Odor?

Some very unpleasant smells can be generated by septic tank odor as it collects waste from the toilet. These septic tank odors can make your daily life difficult and even become embarrassing, especially if you host a party or have friends over.


How Do I Know When I Have Septic Tank Odor Problems?

Septic tank odor can occasionally emit a really foul odor, but your septic tank should not smell constantly. The septic tank collects waste from the toilet flushes. This allows the solids to settle in the tank and eventually form sludge.


In a healthy septic tank, bacteria and bugs help to break down the solids and "eat" them enough that it helps to mitigate septic tank odor all together.



What Can I Do to Stop Septic Tank Odor?

First, try and identify the source of the septic tank odor. Is there a strong stench outside? Is it coming directly from the toilet? Is it just outside the actual septic tank?

Septic tank odor can happen for a number of reasons. Finding the cause of the smell can help to reduce the problem. This article will cover the top causes of septic tank odor.



I've Detected Septic Tank Odor - Now What?

A very common cause of septic tank odor is a full tank. If your septic tank is being cleaned regularly and you notice bad odors coming from the toilet bowl and into the pipe, it could be a sign that the bacteria and bugs in the tank have become disorganized and are dying off.


The following methods can be used to encourage the bacteria to repopulate:

  • Take a cup of brown or regular sugar out of your kitchen and flush it down the toilet

  • Repeat the process once per week for six to eight weeks


It's important to continue to address the problem if the septic tank odor persists. You can first try a hydrated lime solution that neutralizes the pH levels of the tank and forms a film on top that dampens the odor.

  • Many hardware supply stores sell hydrated lime bags weighing 5 kg

  • Mix the 5kg of hydrated limestone in a 10L bucket

  • Fill the bucket with water to make a mixture of 50% hydrated lime and 50% water

  • The equal parts of hydrated lime water should then be flushed down the toilet

You can wait a few days before you check to see if the septic tank odor has gone away. If the bad smells persist, it is possible to have your septic tank cleaned to remove the bacteria.



When Septic Tank Odor are Emanating

The stench may be coming from outside the septic tanks.

There is always a possibility that the septic tank odor originated from something outside and is making your property smell bad. A majority of properties with a septic system have a grease trap that collects waste from your kitchen sink, and a greywater tank that receives waste from your laundry and showers.


One of these tanks is enough to cause septic tank odor. A greywater tank, which receives waste from the laundry and showers is commonly mistaken for a septic tank. The distribution trenches could be responsible for the smelly grease trap or greywater tank if they are not being maintained on a regular basis.


The distribution trenches are also known as transpiration trenches and drain fields. They receive liquid waste from the greywater tank, grease trap, and septic tanks. If you notice areas in your yard that have a high rate of grass growth or are constantly wet, it is likely that your trenches have become saturated or blocked.



How Can Septic Tank Odors Be Prevented?

You can prevent most septic tank odor by only using the right cleaners that you're flushing down the toilet. The tank should then be cleaned as necessary. Here are a few suggestions to keep your septic system smelling great:

  • Use only 1 or 2 layers of toilet paper

  • Never flush contraceptions or sanitary napkins, kitty litter, or any other items down the toilet

  • Avoid flushing wipes that are marketed as "flushable" or "biodegradable" down your toilet. They don't actually break down fast enough and can build up in the tank - blocking the drain

  • Always repair leaking toilets

  • As far as the toilet, install a dual-flush tank

  • Natural products can be used to clean your toilet

  • When the sludge level reaches 30%, pump out the septic tank once every 2-5 years

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