Septic Tank Odor: How to Eliminate it

Septic Tank Smell: How to Eliminate it

While the idea of a septic tank and system seems like an unclean option for waste management, most septic systems rarely exude any septic tank odor or unpleasantness, even after years of service. Of course, the key to keeping your septic system working properly and smelling fresh is regular septic tank maintenance and proper practices.

It’s important to know what causes the occasional septic tank odor though, so here’s a brief overview of the problem:

Micro-organisms (healthy bacteria, etc.) are positive forces that naturally occur in a septic tank and process the organic matter in the tank completely naturally. This is what makes your septic tank work: waste enters the tank and is broken down over time. As these organisms process or digest the material, they produce large quantities of carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, methane gas, and organic acids.


These gases can result in a highly acidic pH level, which can in turn damage the essential micro-organisms in the tank. When this happens, the organisms stop the good work they were doing (digesting the organic matter) which can cause an increase in hydrogen sulfide gas. This release of gas is often described as smelling like rotten eggs, and as you can imagine, it’s very unpleasant for the septic system owners and users!

Avoid Toxic Chemicals

The easiest way to avoid this smelly gas buildup is avoiding toxic chemicals which can kill the bacterias and organisms in the tank, and making sure that the septic tank is not being overloaded with water or waste, which can overwhelm the organisms and cause the excess gas mentioned earlier.

Routine Tank Pumping and Cleaning

Another key element of septic tank health is obviously professional septic tank pumping and cleaning, which improves the overall health of the organic matter working in the tank as well as ensures the tank does not become overloaded by water or waste.

Contact Us

If you start to smell something unusual or unpleasant coming out of your drains or septic field, call us immediately. We’re always happy to offer emergency septic service and cleaning, or we might able to recommend some homeowner solutions (we also have some blog-posts here on the site that have some great resources as well.)

Septic Repair: Why You Should Always Leave it to the Professionals

Septic Repair: Why You Should Always Leave it to the Professionals

For most homeowners, weighing the pros and cons of what to hire a professional for and what to DIY can be stressful and overwhelming. For most people, normal household maintenance and repair projects are enjoyable, and an easy way to cut costs.

So, it stands to reason that some home and business owners would want to either install, repair, or maintain their own septic systems. After all, why pay for a professional septic service? Wouldn’t most handy homeowners be able to manage their own septic tanks and perform their own septic repair?

Well, yes and no. Yes, you can, as the property owner, do some commonsense things to keep your septic running smoothly, which we’ve discussed before on this blog. Things like avoiding overuse of your garbage disposal, using septic-friendly cleaning supplies and watching your water use can all keep your septic tank, drain field and septic system running well.

But, no matter how careful you are, needing a septic repair is part of life if you own a property with a septic system. So here are our reasons to avoid DIY septic repairs:

Do-It-Yourself can cost you much more

Small mistakes in septic system repairs can create big headaches, either immediately, or even worse, a year or two down the road. We’ve seen supposedly simple homeowner repairs go wrong and cost the property owners thousands of dollars in unforeseen costs, plus the aggravation and delay of having to do things twice.

The materials alone are costly in septic systems, so it’s smart to have a professional handle maintenance, installation, and repair. Save yourself the cost and hassle, and give yourself the peace of mind of having your septic system repaired right the first time.

You do not want to cause water pollution

Every septic system requires a permit from your local municipality. This is to prevent shoddy workmanship from polluting local water sources and making sure that your community government can crack down on bad or incompetent individuals who might be causing issues in the local watersheds.

This is a truly critical piece of the septic system puzzle and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. You don’t want to cause pollution to your own water or your neighbors, and you certainly don’t want to be held liable for any contamination either. This is why it’s best to contract with an ethical, experienced and insured professional for your septic repairs.

Septic systems are actually very complex

While septic systems are basically wastewater tanks and drainage systems, which sound somewhat simple, the truth is that septic systems are deceivingly complex. There are multiple pipelines, chambers, baffles, mixers, and valves that all need to be installed and maintained properly in every system, and the necessary adjustments vary depending on your land’s elevation, soil makeup, annual rainfall and more. If you hire a local, dependable septic company, like Shankster Bros, for your septic system repairs, you can rest assured that we will know what your system needs and how to serve you best, while keeping costs down and your septic system working properly.

Don’t DIY your septic system installation, repair or maintenance – call the professionals today at Shankster Bros.

What Constitutes as a Septic Tank Emergency?

What Constitutes as a Septic Tank Emergency?

With all the information we provide about septic systems, how to keep them in good operating order and what to expect with their maintenance, it would be surprising if one of our regular blog-readers or customers had a septic tank emergency. But, accidents happen and sometimes there are unusual circumstances that can cause unexpected emergencies in even the most well-maintained system. So here are our four key signs that you might be experiencing a septic tank emergency on your property.

Sewage Backup – Sewage smell is incredibly foul and impossible to disguise or ignore. It might be one of the most unpleasant possible odors and fortunately is very unlikely in a well-maintained septic system, as it is an advanced sign of septic tank problems. You might also see bubbling in your toilet, and backups in drains. Sewage looks black and smells terrible – call us
IMMEDIATELY if you think you smell sewage in your home or business and let us address your backup as quickly as possible.

Drainfield Pooling – Most drain fields are relatively close to the home or business they serve, and so this is an easy sign to catch. If you see standing water on your lawn (particularly if the weather’s been dry) this is an obvious sign that something is happening in your septic system. It could be something as minor as a clogged pipe or as major as a compromised drain field or septic tank.

Your Septic Alarm – Not everyone has a septic alarm installed, but if it’s going off, it might mean that you are experiencing high water in your system. This can be because it can’t handle your waste load because of higher volumes, tank problems, or drain field issues. Either of these issues can cause significant problems in your septic system and should be addressed quickly by a septic professional. Call us if you want more information about your alarm, or if you’re interested in installing an alarm for your septic tank.

Nitrate Concentration – This is only applicable to those septic system owners who have freshwater wells for personal or agricultural consumption, but since most septic systems are installed in rural areas, it’s important to keep in mind. It’s important to have your well water tested on a regular basis – sometimes unmaintained or overloaded septic systems can leech into the local groundwater and cause high nitrate levels in your drinking water – not a good situation!

Having your septic tank maintained regularly and sealing all leaks will keep your well water clean and fresh – free of high levels of nitrates.

As always, if you have questions, are ever in need of emergency septic service, or any other septic system concerns, call us anytime. We love to hear from our customers and we want to help. Healthy septic systems make for healthy people, agriculture, and the environment – a win-win for all of us.

How to Protect Your Septic System & Conserve Water

How to Protect Your Septic System & Conserve Water

Did you know that almost 98% of the earth’s water is saltwater? Amazing, right? Saltwater is not potable or usable for most human and animal functions, such as drinking, bathing, etc. Therefore it’s essential that we conserve water, keeping the freshwater we have fresh for ourselves, our plants, animals and our environment, as well as future generations. Conserving water doesn’t just mean “saving” water, but also using water wisely – don’t use more water than necessary and be a good steward of the water we have access to.

Clean water is a limited resource, and conserving it for future generations is good for us, good for the planet, and – bonus! – good for our septic systems. Did you know that conserving water can reduce problems and increase the effectiveness and lifespan of your family’s septic system?

Too much water can overload your septic tank and cause it to require more frequent pumping, or it can overwhelm your septic drain field and cause flooding, backups and equipment breakdowns. While freshwater is essential to your life, there are some easy and relatively painless ways to cut down on your water use and conserve water for your environmental and septic system health.

Here are our water-saving suggestions:

Invest in a water-saving toilet, which can reduce water usage by as much as 60%! This is a huge savings for your family and your septic system. While older toilets required several gallons just to move solids through the pipes, newer toilets have better technology and can do the same job with much less water (sometimes less than 2 gallons per flush!)

  • Space out your water use. Avoid running water-using appliances overnight and try to stagger baths, shower, and other major water uses throughout the day. This gives your septic system a break and also cuts down on water use.
  • Wash only full loads of laundry and dishes, to avoid overloading your septic system. Also, it might be worth looking into the viability of newer, high-efficiency dishwashers and washing machines for your family’s needs.

Lower your water consumption and your energy bill by using low-flow showerheads. Just this simple change can save almost 3,000 gallons of water per year for most families, and it will also reduce your water-heating cost significantly.

Turn off the faucet while shaving, brushing teeth, scrubbing pots or other non-essential water-using activities. Not only does this significantly help with conservation, but it also gives your pipes and septic field a break during the day.

Avoid over-running the shower or bath tap. While it’s understandable to wait for hot water, try not to walk away from the bath or shower while it’s running to avoid too much water waste. If you want more tips on water conservation or prolonging the health of your septic system, please feel free to check back on the blog or give us a call anytime. At Shankster Bros., we are your local septic experts and we’re happy to help.

Important Things You Should Know About Your Septic System

Important Things You Should Know About Your Septic System

According to the United States EPA, almost 25% of American residential properties use septic systems to disperse sewage and grey water, which means that almost four billion gallons of wastewater is dispersed beneath the ground soil per day.

That’s a lot of water, and if not properly cared for, your septic system can become part of a larger pollution problem in your area, contaminating streams, irrigation, and even drinking water.

The most important thing you need to know about your septic system, therefore, is that it is essential to inspect and maintain your septic system regularly to prevent problematic ecological
impacts or more expensive repairs.

Unlike a traditional city sewer system, septic systems are the property owner’s responsibility to maintain, rather than the municipality’s. If and when you go to sell your property, you’ll need to show maintenance records for your septic system, as well as pay for an inspection of the system.

This means that it’s wise to keep up with septic tank maintenance and inspections, as this will save you both time, money and hassle when the time comes to sell your home or business.

Also, while most municipal sewer systems can accept almost unlimited water use, septic systems perform much better with low-flow toilets, faucets, and other appliances, and should be given “rest” periods, ideally every night for best performance. This means that delaying dishwasher runs or other household tasks until overnight might not be the best choice if you run your household on a traditional septic system. It might also be a good idea to replace older toilets and showerheads with updated, low-flow varieties.

With proper maintenance and septic inspections, septic systems are an eco-friendly, affordable option for many properties. We can make sure that your septic system stays up to your local codes, meets EPA standards and functions properly for as long as you own your home or business. Call us today with any questions about your septic system, we’re always happy to help.

Septic System Repair: Warning Signs That You May Need Pro Repairs

Septic System Repair: Warning Signs That You May Need Pro Repairs


Slow Draining in Your Home

Most home and property owners assume that a little Drain-o or a roto visit from a plumber can easily fix slow-draining sinks or bathtubs. That might be true, but if you operate on a septic system, it’s important to know that slow drainage can be a sign of septic system trouble or failure, in particular if you notice this symptom in more than one sink, tub or drain in your home. If more than one of these is draining slowly in your home or business, your septic tank might be backing up or outflow pipe might be impacted.

Backing up Sewage

Slow drainage might be the first sign of a septic problem, but your septic tank issues might skip straight to backing up, in some situations. If you notice sludge in your bathtubs, water coming up in your sinks, or other signs of back up from your septic system, this is a common indicator that your septic system is in serious need of septic tank pumping or septic system repair.

Water on the Drain Field

We advise our customers to keep an eye on their septic system drain field and walk through that area of your property semi-frequently to check for issues. If you start to notice standing water, unseasonable dampness or any kind of smell in your yard or drain field, it’s a good idea to call for a pumping or septic system inspection. If your drain field is not functioning properly, this could also mean that your septic tank or drain piping is also in trouble.

Unpleasant Smells

Septic systems, when they work properly, are very clean and hygienic for your whole family. Your home should not smell from bad plumbing, and you should not encounter sewage smells in your yard, either. If you start to smell your septic system in your bathroom, kitchen, or anywhere else that you have a drain in your home, that’s a sign that your septic system is not performing properly.

If you see or smell any of these warning signs in your home or business, call us right away at (260)-982-7111. We are available to help with any emergency septic service or maintenance and are glad to answer any septic questions you may have.

Are Regular Septic System Inspections Necessary?

Are Regular Septic System Inspections Necessary?

We’ve said it on this blog before and we’ll say it again – septic system inspections are necessary and essential to the life and function of your septic tank and system. We recommend you get a septic system inspection and septic tank service every 3-5 years.

However, we know that most homeowners rarely get their septic systems inspected unless there is an obvious issue. Unfortunately, this means property owners are often setting themselves up
for big problems, such as slow drainage, toilets backing up or even septic system leakage. Regular inspections cut down on these risks.

Another thing to think about is the resale value of your home. Most realtors acknowledge that buyers can be leery of a septic system because often they aren’t maintained well (as we mentioned earlier), so an owner who has done due diligence is truly valuable in the home-buying marketplace. Plus, during the escrow period, a certified septic tank and system inspection may be required and can create sizable delay and expense if anything problematic arises.

Remember that you need a septic inspector, not just your home inspector, for this job. You can also, ask your local health department to see if they perform inspections – in some states, they do. State regulations vary on whether the seller or buyer is responsible for this due diligence – check with your realtor about the regulations and standard practices in your area.

However, remember that in all states of the U.S., home sellers are required to disclose any known problems with a home to the buyers of the property. This means that the sellers are financially liable for any problems that might arise even after the sale if they had knowledge of those problems and failed to disclose them.

Unfortunately, this often happens with septic systems, because it truly impacts the quality and livability of the real estate but is largely unseen. If sellers aren’t honest and buyers don’t insist on a high-quality inspection, problems can be costly for everyone involved. Our suggestion: avoid all of this hassle by keeping up with regular septic tank pumping, septic system inspections and best practices (avoiding harsh chemicals, not overloading the system, etc.)

If you’re considering buying or selling a home with a septic system, please call us for help with your septic inspection. If you already own a home with a septic system, give us a call at (260)-982-7111 and we can get you on a regular schedule of septic maintenance to keep everything running smoothly.

New Home Buyer’s Guide to Septic Systems

New Home Buyer’s Guide to Septic Systems

If you are about to purchase a new home with a septic system, this homebuyer guide is for you! This guide provides information homebuyers need to know before purchasing a home with a septic system (also known as an onsite wastewater system), how a septic system works, and the importance of having it inspected prior to purchasing a home. In addition, this guide provides information on every day, preventative, and corrective maintenance for when you are living in your new home. For additional information, contact your local health department, real estate agent or visit

Step 1: Understand your septic system

Does my new home have a septic system?

How do I find it? You most likely have a septic system if:

  • You are on well water;
  • The water line coming into your house does not have a meter;
  • Your neighbors have a septic system; or,
  • You live in a rural area.

You can find your septic system by:

  • Looking at the “as built” drawing for your home’s septic system, which you can request from your local (e.g., town, county, or state) health department’s records;
  • Checking your yard for inspection caps, lids, or manhole covers;
  • Working with a septic system service provider, who can help locate the system; and,
  • Asking the seller or realtor.

How does a septic system work?

  1. All water runs out of your house from one main drainage pipe into a septic tank.
  2. The septic tank is a buried, water-tight container. Its job is to hold the wastewater long enough for solids to settle to the bottom (sludge) while the fats, oil, and grease float to the top (scum).
  3. For conventional septic systems, liquid wastewater exits the tank and is spread evenly throughout the drain field, usually through a distribution box. Systems with more advanced treatment may have an additional component between the septic tank and drain field.
  4. Once in the drain field, the wastewater percolates into the soil, which reclaims the water for future reuse by naturally removing harmful bacteria, viruses, and some nutrients. This process may vary based on the site conditions of your property (e.g., soil type, proximity to water). A septic system service provider and your septic system’s “as built” drawings will be able to tell you what type of system is on the property.

Step 2: Get your system inspected

How can I be sure that my septic system is working correctly?

Buying a home is one of the biggest investments you will make, so you want to avoid any surprises after you purchase the home. Just like your furnace, the septic system is expensive to repair or replace so you want it to be in good condition when you buy the home. Have the system inspected by a septic system service provider before you purchase a home. Inspections may be required by your local or state government or by your mortgage lender. Inspection results can help you decide if the home is right for you.

What should happen during a septic system inspection?

The inspector will check for the following:

  • Pumping and maintenance records;
  • The age of the septic system;
  • Sludge levels and scum thickness in the tank;
  • Signs of leakage, such as low water levels in the tank;
  • Signs of backup, such as staining in the tank above the outlet pipe;
  • Integrity of the tank, inlet, and outlet pipes;
  • The drain field, for signs of system failure like standing water;
  • The distribution box, to make sure drain lines are receiving equal flow; and
  • Available records, to ensure the system complies with local regulations regarding function and location.

Step 3: Everyday Maintenance

What can I do to help maintain my system every day?

The average lifespan of a septic system is 15 to 40 years, but it can last longer if properly maintained!

  • Think at the sink. Consider what you put into your toilet and sink and the impact it may have on your system. Many common household items can either clog your system or kill the microbes that treat the wastewater.
  • “Cloggers” include diapers, baby wipes, cat litter, cigarettes, coffee grounds, grease, and feminine hygiene products.
  • “Killers” include household chemicals, gasoline, oil, pesticides, antifreeze, paint, and high amounts of anti-bacterial soaps and detergents.
  • Don’t strain your drain.
  • The less water you use, the less your septic system has to work. Stagger the use of appliances, use high-efficiency plumbing fixtures, and repair any leaks in your home.
  • For more information, go to
  • Shield your field.
  • Keep your car and anything heavier than your lawnmower off your drain field.
  • Eliminate or limit the use of a garbage disposal. This will significantly reduce the amount of fats, grease, and solids that enter your septic system and could clog your drain field.
  • Plant trees away from the drain field since tree roots can clog the field and cause the system to fail.
  • Keep excess water from irrigation, significant rainfall, or drains off the drain field.

Step 4: Preventive Maintenance

What else can I do to help maintain my system?

A typical septic system should be inspected every three to five years by a septic system service provider. The tank should be pumped as recommended by the service provider or as required by your town, county, or state. Generally, you can plan to have the tank pumped approximately every three to five years. Just like changing the oil in your car, preventive septic system maintenance will extend the life of your system for a small cost compared to the cost of replacing the system.

What are the costs associated with the maintenance of a septic system?

Your home’s septic system should be inspected every three to five years as part of its routine maintenance and pumped as necessary depending on the results of the inspection. The maintenance service typically costs between $250 to $500, based on nationwide industry estimates. Maintenance costs are much more affordable compared to the expense of repairing or replacing a septic system which can cost thousands to tens of thousands of dollars. Contact a local septic system service provider who can provide a cost estimate specific to your area and needs. They can also provide you with more accurate information on how frequently to service and pump out your system.

Step 5: Corrective Maintenance

How do I know if my septic system is not working properly? What do I do?

There are a few signs of a septic system malfunction. If you discover any of these warning signs, call a septic system service provider immediately. One call could save you thousands of dollars!

  • Wastewater backing up or gurgling into household drains.
  • A strong odor around the septic tank or drain field.
  • Bright green, spongy grass appearing on the drain field.

With proper care and maintenance, your septic system will serve your home for years to come. That’s why it’s important for you to do your part and be Smart!

Septic Tank Pump – When You Need One and When to Call a Pro

Septic Tank Pump – When You Need One and When to Call a Pro

compare septic pump effluent, Grinder, sumpWhat’s the difference between septic tank pumps, and do you need a pump in your septic system? Here’s our quick guide on pumps – there are three main kinds of septic tank pumps, a sump pump, a septic
effluent pump, and a grinder pump.

We’re happy to help you decide if you need one of these pumps in your septic system. Keep in mind that this blog-post is just a quick reference, by no means an extensive how-to – always call us before attempting to DIY a septic tank problem!

Septic Tank Sump Pump

Also known as a de-watering pump, sump pumps are typically used in very wet climates to drain basements and foundations of excess water from extreme weather. This is a pump for insurance purposes, really, making sure that buildings maintain structural security in very wet conditions. Occasionally a sump pump is used in septic systems, but rarely, as there are better solutions if a pump is needed.

Septic Tank Grinder Pump

Have you ever wondered how pumping septic uphill works? Use a Grinder pump. These septic tank pumps are used to grind and move black water or sewage from place to place, grinding the solids to enable everything to fit through standard piping (usually 2” diameter). Typically, the grinder pump is installed right in a septic tank. The septic tank grinder pump is needed because in this case, it’s sending black water to an uphill location, such as a septic tank, municipal sewer system, or sewage pumping center.

Sewage Tank Effluent Pump

These septic tank pumps are intended only to move clarified effluent, typically from a septic chamber (not a tank) to a drain field. If you are pumping clarified effluent out of a septic pumping chamber (meaning a separate holding place downstream from the main septic tank). Because this pump cannot break down solids, it’s essential that it be removed from the tank, which contains solids and scum.

If you are debating using a septic tank pump in your septic system, ALWAYS call a professional septic tank service company first. Most septic systems do not require a pump, and you might need a professional septic tank pumping anyway. We are glad to answer any questions about your septic system, the potential of requiring a pump, and the costs involved in installing one for your septic system.

As always, if you have questions about your septic tank system or need service, please give us a call at (260)-982-7111.

Septic Service in Indiana – 6 Steps to a New Septic System

We love our home state of Indiana and we strive to be one of the foremost septic system maintenance companies around here. We excel at septic pumping, farm drainage, septic system maintenance and more because we know our local ecosystems, municipal regulations, and best practices so well.

You need a local septic service company, and one with a long track record of success and environmental awareness for any level of septic service. We strive to be the best option for you!

Most states have slight variations to septic system laws for ongoing maintenance and new installation. We follow our state’s regulations for all maintenance, and we know that in Indiana, there are six basic steps to a new septic installation.

The Six Steps to a New Septic System in Indiana

  1. Evaluation (hire a licensed soil scientist to evaluate the soil on your property. This should be done in conjunction with a septic system professional.)
  2. System Requirements (questions to ask as you plan your system: how many people will be using the system? Any unusual needs or high-volume concerns?)
  3. Design (where to place the tank, drain field, etc. to render an effective solution for your unique location.)
  4. Permitting (your county will need to sign off on the permits for your new system, inspecting periodically to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the new septic system.)
  5. Installation Bids and Interviews (shop around for the best installation quality and value.)
  6. Septic Tank and Drainfield Installation (this is the fun part – get your septic system installed in working order.)
  7. Inspection (After an inspection from your county official, enjoy the peace of mind of a well-running system for yourself and your household.)

While installing and maintaining a septic system isn’t complicated, it is essential that you have a trusted advocate throughout the process. We’re glad to be that resource for you. We are happy to answer any questions about the permit process in Indiana, the unique environmental concerns we experience here or anything else you might need information on, with regards to your septic service needs. As always, if you have questions or concerns about your septic tank, please give us a call at (260)-982-7111