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What to Do When Your Septic Alarm Starts Going Off

Septic tank
Most newer septic systems feature an alarm to warn the homeowner that something is wrong inside the tank. These alarms are standard features on advanced septic systems, such as above ground aerobic tanks.

The standard warnings are a loud buzzing noise and a bright right light, so the sight and sound of the septic alarm going off can make you feel like panicking.
However, there are many reasons other than a damaged septic tank for the alarm to go off. Find out what to do about the alarm and why it might be sounding after certain events.

Check the Power Supply
First, establish that there's no reason the power supply to the septic alarm was accidentally disconnected. This could be as simple as someone who accidentally severed a buried wire while digging in the yard or accidentally unplugged an outlet. Verify that the alarm is getting a steady supply of power before assuming that it's giving a correct signal about the condition of the septic tank.

If your alarm is only going off during a power outage, the lack of power is likely the cause. Pay attention to the alarm for the first few days after power is restored. If it doesn't go off again while the power is on, your septic tank should be fine.

Consider Recent Rainfall
Heavy rainfall and flooding can make a septic alarm go off. While this isn't an emergency that always requires a call to a repair company, it is a warning sign that you should cut down on water usage. The more water you add during a flood or rain, the greater the chance of backflow into the home or a damaged tank.

An alarm that goes off during a flood but stops buzzing after the waters recede still shouldn't be ignored. It's always a good idea to have your tank inspected after any event that causes your alarm to sound.

Stop Using Indoor Water
Regardless of why the alarm is sounding, it's smart to limit indoor water use as much as possible any time you receive a warning signal from it. Unless you can verify it's giving a false alarm, you shouldn't risk having sewage back up into the home.

Most septic tanks for the average single-family home are designed to sound the alarm when the waste height reaches the limit in which there is only a quarter's day worth of space left. You can make this amount of space last a lot longer simply by drastically reducing how much waste and water goes into the tank.

In fact, staying in a hotel is a good way to preserve your septic system while you're waiting for inspection and repairs.

Call a Professional
Even if you think you know why the septic alarm is sounding or lighting up, you shouldn't attempt repairs on your own. Let the professionals handle the work since there are serious risks in opening any part of your septic system or trying to access the tank.

Ask for a Full Inspection
There are plenty of different reasons for a septic alarm to go off, depending on what system you use and how it's connected to the alarm. Some possible causes include:
  • A damaged or clogged pump that is no longer sending a signal to the alarm
  • Clogs in chlorinators, filters, and other parts used on aerobic and advanced septic tanks
  • A source of water leaking into the tank and filling it artificially
  • Drain fields that are clogged or collapsed
  • Switches and valves obstructed by waste that can't decompose.
No matter the reason your septic alarm is going off, Stinky's Septic and Carolina Septic will find the cause and fix it so you can back to your normal routine.