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Signs Your Septic System Has Failed and Needs to Be Replaced

By Bill Gassett | March 2, 2023

Do you know the signs your septic system needs replacement? Nobody wants to think about it, but eventually, that day comes when you'll need to dig up your yard.

It is a nightmare scenario for most homeowners due to the cost of replacing a septic system. It is certainly not cheap. It can put a damper on most people's budgets.

Let's look at what you need to know about septic system replacement.

What is a Septic System?

A septic system is a unique type of wastewater treatment system that helps to keep your home's water and waste from getting into the ground or the water supply.

It comprises three main components: the tank, the leach field, and the drain field. The solids are held in the tank, and the gray water is sent to the drain or leach field.

A septic system needs to be maintained to function properly. It should be pumped every few years and possibly sooner when you have a large family.

Licensed professionals in this line of work conduct septic system inspections.

Whether buying or selling a home, it is one of the specialty home inspections worth doing.

Septic System Failed
What are the signs a septic system has failed?

How Do You Know When Your Septic System Needs Replacement?

There are some surefire ways to know when you will need to plan on installing a new septic system. Let's review them.

Your Septic System is Very Old

The age of a septic system is one of the main indicators that it could need replacement in the future.

As septic systems age, they become less efficient and are more prone to failure. If your septic system is more than 25 years old, it is likely time to consider starting to budget for replacement.

The older a septic system is, the more likely it is that it has seen its better days. As the system ages, it will become increasingly challenging to repair or maintain; eventually, you will need to replace it.

In addition, if your septic system is more than 30 years old, likely, it will not be able to handle the increased demand for wastewater treatment that comes with a more prominent family or other changes in your home’s infrastructure.

If this is the case, it is best to replace the system before any significant issues arise. A new system will be able to handle the increased demand, help protect the environment, and provide you with reliable and efficient wastewater treatment for years to come.

As septic systems age, regular maintenance becomes more essential. Without staying on top of things, the likelihood of failure increases.

There Are Bad Smells

Bad smells are one of the most obvious signs that you may have a failing septic system. When a septic system fails, it can cause a wastewater buildup, leading to unpleasant odors.

These odors indicate that your septic system has reached capacity, and it is time to consider replacing it.

The smell of sewage and wastewater can be unpleasant and even dangerous if left untreated.

If the smell persists, it is essential to get a professional inspection to determine the source of the odor and if a septic system replacement is necessary.

Water Pooling Around Your Septic System Location

In addition to the odors, you may also notice water pooling or soggy patches in the ground near your septic system. This is another sign that your septic system needs to be replaced, as the wastewater is not being treated properly and is leaking into the ground.

If you notice any of these signs, it is essential to contact a professional to assess the situation and determine the best course of action.

Septic system replacement can be costly but is essential to your family's and the environment's health.

Slow Drains in Your Home

Slow drains in your home are a tell-tale sign that your septic system has failed and needs replacing.

Septic systems are designed to collect and treat wastewater, but when they fail, they can cause the wastewater to back up, resulting in slow drains.

Wastewater is not being processed efficiently and cannot move through the pipes efficiently. As a result, the wastewater builds up in the pipes, which can cause an unpleasant smell and slow drains.

Unusual Sounds Coming From Your Toilets or Pipes

Another telltale sign of septic failure is strange-sounding noises. Air can become trapped in the pipes due to the system not functioning as intended. At times it could be just a blockage in your pipes. Fingers crossed that is the case.

A plumber will be able to determine that for you.

How Much Does a Septic System Replacement Cost?

Replacing a system is not cheap. The most expensive part of a septic system replacement is the leach field. A minor expense would be fixing a cracked distribution box or sealing a crack in the septic tank.

These problems would be much less expensive to fix. A full-fledged septic system replacement could cost anywhere from $5000-$50,000.

Several factors can influence the cost of a septic system replacement, including your location, soil conditions, and type of system.

When replacing a system, it is wise to get several estimates as the prices vary tremendously from one installer to another.

The pricing can also vary tremendously from state to state. For example, septic system replacement costs in Massachusetts tend to be higher than in other places. This is due to higher labor costs, tougher soil conditions, and stringent regulations.

Even when buying land to build a home, it is essential to research the soil conditions and the water table, as they will dramatically impact the cost of installing a new system.

Final Thoughts on Septic Systems

Replacing your septic system is an essential investment for any homeowner, but ensuring you get the right system for your needs is crucial.

For example, if you currently have a three-bedroom home but plan on adding a bedroom, you'll want to opt for a four-bedroom septic system.

Some homeowners will make improvements without permits, like a bedroom addition. Unfortunately, doing so can tax the septic system when designed for fewer bedrooms.

We hope this article has helped you understand what to expect when it comes to replacing your septic system

Bill Gassett is an authority in the real estate industry with 38 years of experience. Bill is well respected for his informative articles for buyers, sellers, and fellow real estate agents to make sound decisions. His work has been featured on RIS Media, the National Association of Realtors, Inman News, Newsbreak, Credit Sesame, Realty Biz News, and his own authoritative resource, Maximum Real Estate Exposure. He has been on of the top RE/MAX agents in New England over the last two decades.
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