Can You Put a Deck or Patio Over a Septic Tank System

Can You Put a Patio Over a Septic Tank?

It’s a beautiful summer. Fall is on its way…cool mornings and evenings, birds chirping outside…

What would be better than an early morning cup of coffee out on the patio? Or sitting around a fire on the patio in the evening?

That patio that you’ve been wanting to build but just haven’t gotten done yet.

Can You Put a Patio Over a Septic Tank

Where exactly are you going to put that patio?

Don’t forget your septic tank!

Just because it’s underground doesn’t mean it’s not important! If you fail to think about it now, it could cost you big later!

Can I put my new patio or deck over my septic tank?

The short answer is no.

To construct a patio or deck legally in Indiana, you need to check with your county zoning board for a permit. They will usually ask you to get a letter from the Health Department, (They have governing oversight of your septic tank), giving permission for the specific space on your property that you want to build your patio.

The Health Department will usually ask you to submit a sketch of your property, showing where your house and other structures are located, and also showing the location of your well and septic system.

They may compare this sketch to their records on file, and either grant or deny permission based on their findings.

Indiana code allows for a patio that has no foundation to be placed right up to the edge of the septic tank. A deck with posts in the ground or a patio with a foundation or roof must be placed at least 10 feet from the nearest edge of the septic tank.

While different counties may interpret the code slightly differently, the Indiana code has good reasoning behind its ruling.

If you inadvertently construct a deck or patio on top of your septic tank system, you’re asking for problems down the road.

When your septic tank eventually needs to be cleaned out, portions of your patio or deck may have to be cut, dismantled, or removed entirely to allow access to the tank lid. It goes without saying that if your toilets are backing up and overflowing in the house, any additional time it takes to remove decks or patios is going to be hazardous!

Our drivers report that approximately 5% of our customers have patios or decks over their septic tanks.

In some instances, this can lead to expensive repairs, due to a lack of foresight during construction.

Just recently, a customer had a septic tank that needed repairs on the outlet baffle. Since there was a patio on top of the septic tank, we had to cut the cement patio and dig down to the tank in order to repair the baffle. Needless to say, this job cost them considerably more than if there hadn’t been a patio on top of the septic tank.

If you’re thinking of building, we say, “Go for it”!

But just be sure to check with your local county building and planning commissions, get the proper permits, and check with the Health Department to avoid costly mistakes down the road!

If you need help finding your septic tank, just give us a call at Shankster Bros, and we can help!

What should I do after having my septic tank cleaned out?

Here is a water system question that comes up occasionally among homeowners:

What to do after your septic tank is pumped at Home?

The answers to that question are surprisingly varied in local tradition and folklore! Some homeowners are very dogmatic with their beliefs and practices surrounding this event. We have found some homeowners who stoutly declare that the only way their septic tank functions properly after cleaning is if they put a dead chicken into the tank after it’s pumped! This, they claim, re-starts the bacteria in the septic tank, and everything works wonderfully. Others ascribe to a legendary method of adding a large bag of dog food to the tank after cleaning…they say when they fail to add the dog food, their tank will not function properly. Still, others keep a special supply of yeast on hand to flush down the toilet when their tank has been pumped out. They feel that this special additive will keep the septic bugs happy, and keep all bad things from occurring.

Based on our many years working in the residential septic system industry, we have found that in most cases, there is no need to add anything to your septic tank after pumping.

Human waste coupled with kitchen waste is full of bacteria and enzymes which are fully sufficient to break down the residential waste that comes from most homes.

Washington State University has a helpful study on this topic, which we feel encapsulates our experience in the field.

Septic Tank System Additives

Safe additives will likely be ineffective, while an effective additive will likely be unsafe to use. Money spent on additives would better be spent pumping your septic tank every three to five years.

There are certain cases where home septic tank additives can be helpful for cleaning your plumbing system…

  • We have had customers who were undergoing chemotherapy who experienced adverse effects on their septic tank, due to the chemo-killing bacteria in the tanks.
    We have also had customers who used more than normal amounts of bleach or Clorox in cleaning, which affected their septic tanks.
  • In cases like this, we recommend a product called BioClean, which is a mix of bacteria in powder form, that activates when it is added to liquid. This can increase the bacterial count in the septic tank to help overcome higher levels of toxic influent.
  • At times, a leach field may become clogged with solids from overuse. We have had success with opening the ends of leach fingers and cleaning out the solids from the lines using a hydro-jetting machine. Once the solids are cleaned out, we flush clean water back into them, mixed with a high concentration of BioClean bacteria. This helps to break down the remaining solids with a shock treatment of very high bacteria content, and many times a failing leach field can be brought back to life in this manner.

So…in most cases, the best thing to do after pumping your septic tank is…Flush The Toilet! If you need to schedule a septic tank cleaning, pumping, or inspection, don’t hesitate to call Shankster Bros. at any time.

Where is My Septic Tank Filter Located at Home?

Where is My Septic Tank Filter Located at Home?

It may come as a surprise to you to know that some modern septic tanks are fitted with filters.

Why would anyone want a filter on their septic tank? It’s not like we’re drinking from the septic tank, right?

Think of it kind of like an oil filter on your car…the filter catches all the small particles that accumulate in your engine oil and collects them to prevent them from clogging up your engine.

In much the same way, a Septic Tank Filter is designed to keep most small particles, or micro solids, retained in the septic tank.

A complete septic system is comprised of 2 main components: the Septic Tank, and the Leach Field.

Septic Tank

When you flush, shower, do dishes, or laundry, the first place the water, (And solids), go, is into the septic tank. The septic tank contains a thriving colony of live bacteria that are continuously feeding on the solids that enter from the waste stream. As they feed on the solids, they actually break the solids down into smaller and smaller particles, many of which remain suspended in the liquid in the septic tank.

Leach Field

The second component of a complete septic system is the Leach Field. The leach field’s job is to accept the partially treated water that flows from the septic tank and soak it into the dirt under your backyard. This dirt acts as a huge sponge, soaking up the water you flush down, and filtering out all the contaminants. For the longest life, and the best results, it is best to keep as many solids and micro solids in the septic tank, and out of the leach field. Much like an engine, or a sponge, the pores in the dirt of your leach field can eventually become plugged with micro solids. When this happens, the dirt is no longer able to effectively treat the wastewater, and can actually cause ponding or flooding in your backyard.

Hence the Home Septic Tank Filter for Cleaning and Maintenance

Septic tank filters are located on the outlet of the septic tank. Their function is to trap as many of the suspended solids floating in the waste stream as possible. This protects the long-term functionality of the leach field. Filters should be cleaned every six months to ensure proper service.

Most filters are a plastic cartridge that can be easily removed and cleaned with a garden hose and re-installed. Call Shankster Bros today to be put on a septic system maintenance schedule to have your filter cleaned regularly, as well as pumping the excess solids out of your septic tank.

Remember…the replacement cost of septic systems continues to rise, sometimes reaching over $20,000.00!

Routine maintenance will go a long way towards keeping your system working well for many more years!

Don’t hesitate to call Shankster Bros at (260)-982-7111 any time to schedule services.

Can I use Drano if I have a septic Tank?

Can You Use Drano If You Have a Septic Tank at Home?

Wise homeowners will pause before dumping certain items down the drain. A septic system is actually a complex system that utilizes healthy bacteria to break down organic household wastewater and releases the treated water through the soil. Thoughtless disposal of some items into your drains could cause extensive damage to your septic system, and harm the environment in the process.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA), has some general guidelines about caring for your septic system that homeowners may find helpful. They can be accessed at the following link: How to Care for Your Septic System

Here are a few items specifically mentioned in the EPA article that you should avoid flushing or putting down the drain:

  • Cooking grease or oil
  • Non-flushable wipes, such as baby wipes or other wet wipes
  • Photographic solutions
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Condoms
  • Dental floss
  • Diapers
  • Cigarette butts
  • Coffee grounds
  • Cat litter
  • Paper towels
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Household chemicals like gasoline, oil, pesticides, antifreeze, and paint or paint thinners

Grease should never be poured or flushed down residential drains. Period.

See my blog article…”What would cause a septic tank to back up?”

What about drain cleaners?

Drano and other similar cleaners operate on a simple principle:

Create a chemical reaction toxic enough to eat away whatever may be blocking the pipes…hair, grease, or grandma’s missing false teeth.

The good side of Chemicals:

This actually does work in some cases. The chemical reaction caused by the lye and sodium chloride, and the fine aluminum powder can actually eat through some pretty tough stuff.

The bad side of Chemicals:

The chemical reaction is powerful enough to have unintended side effects, leading to costly consequences, including but not limited to:

  • Damaged toilets
  • Damaged pipes
  • Glue eaten out of joints in piping

This toxic recipe, once it has drained into your septic tank, begins wreaking all kinds of havoc in the delicate ecosystem inside your septic system.

Remember I said, “Your septic system is actually a complex system which utilizes healthy bacteria to break down organic household wastewater, and releases the treated water through the soil.”

Introducing drain cleaning chemicals into your septic tank is like using bleach in your washing machine…or spraying gasoline on your yard for fertilizer…or used engine oil for icing on a chocolate cake…you get the picture, it’s a bad idea. A really bad idea.

Drain cleaners, bleach, salt, paint or paint thinner, gasoline, or other toxic liquids will kill the bacteria in your septic tank, and could even sterilize the bacteria in the leach field in extreme cases. This could result in an expensive rehabilitation project, or even leach field replacement in an extreme case.

While drain cleaners may seem like a great way to fix a clogged line, they likely will end up costing you money in the long run.

Call Shankster Bros. today for all of your water line cleaning needs!

Can I have a septic tank without a leach field?

Can you have a septic tank without a leach field?

Here in Northern Indiana, the question is often asked…”Can I have a septic tank without a leach field?” Let’s look at that question a bit closer in this blog.

First of all, we need to define the question a bit…

Are you wondering if you can install a new septic system for a new home having only a septic tank, but no leach field?

If so, the short, easy answer is no. The Indiana State Department of Health, (ISDH) writes the codes that govern septic systems in Indiana. The code states that new homes constructed in Indiana shall be designed and plotted to allow sufficient space on the property to adequately treat the wastewater generated by the home on-site if they are not connected to a municipal sewer system. This means that new home construction must be served by a septic system that consists not only of a septic tank, but also provides a system to treat the wastewater, and release the clean water back into the environment…such as a leach field, sand mound, Advanced Treatment System, (ATS), or another method approved by ISDH.

What about an existing home whose old system has problems, is failing, and needs replaced?

The ISDH has provisions in its codes for homes whose septic systems have failed, and are in need of repair or replacement. As long as there is sufficient space on the property, including all setbacks, (50’ from well, etc.), wastewater is to be treated on-site.

In the event of insufficient space, due to small lots that were platted long ago, causing an inability to meet setbacks, such as 25’ from a body of water, etc., for an existing property with no other options, a holding tank may be installed. This is really the only scenario given in the Indiana code where a home may be served by a septic tank with no leach field.

Here in Northern Indiana, we have a lot of lakes, which have many small lots plotted around their perimeters many years ago, with a lot of older homes constructed on them. Over the years, many of the small septic systems serving these homes have become overburdened, resulting in system failure. Due to the small physical lot sizes, often when you block out a 50’ radius from the well, and 50’ radius of all neighboring wells, and 25’ from the lake water’s edge, there is actually no land left to treat the wastewater safely. In this case, a sealed Holding Tank may be installed.

Let’s look at the question from an alternative angle…

“Can I have a septic tank with no leach field?”

drainfields treatmentMaybe you have an old farmhouse, built a hundred years ago, and no one has any idea where the septic tank is, or if it even has one. There are no records because the county didn’t keep those kinds of records long ago…and you may be wondering… “where does my wastewater go?”

In this case, You may be the owner of a septic tank with no leach field!

Many years ago, in the history of mankind…there was a time when builders constructed houses in the country served by septic tanks, but the wastewater went straight from the septic tank through a drainage pipe, eventually ending up in a creek or drain way. These systems tend to work flawlessly for many years, providing no problems for the homeowner…except for polluting the waters of our beautiful state.

These systems are no longer legal, and the state requires that they are not allowed to be repaired without bringing them up to code. In order to bring a system like this up to code, it will require the addition of a leach field component to treat the wastewater before releasing it.

Call Shankster Bros. today for all your septic system problems and needs!

What Causes a Septic Tank to Back Up?

What Causes a Septic Tank to Back Up?

septic tank backup

It’s time to look at a topic that may cause chills to run up and down your spine… and with good reason! What would cause a septic tank to back up?

The answers to that one seemingly simple, innocent question are as many and varied as the people who use the facilities emptying into the septic tanks! Let’s look at a few of them together.

Answer #1 on Septic Systems Backing Up

A septic tank backs up because it’s tired of going forwards.

Haha. Gotcha on that one, right? Ok, so I couldn’t resist one very corny joke.

About Your Septic Tank Backup

One of the first things to determine is whether the backup is actually from the septic tank itself, or whether it may be a clog in the plumbing lines somewhere.

Sometimes customers who experience a backup will call in to have their septic tank pumped, and once our technicians pump the tank, the backup is still just as backed up as ever. The reason is often a clogged plumbing line rather than an actual backed up septic tank. Some common causes for clogged plumbing/drainage lines leading to the septic tank are listed below.

Common Causes of Your Septic Tank Backing Up

Tree Roots

This is one of the most common plagues of drainage lines everywhere, even though we love those lovely lawns shaded by a giant, stately old oak or maple trees, right? They’re so beautiful. While it’s true that the upper part, easily seen and appreciated, is beautiful, these trees have a sinister counterpart underground – the wicked root system which is always in search of water.

Tree roots have an uncanny ability to sense water from far away and will go to great lengths to penetrate whatever stands between them and the precious water they so badly need for survival. If a tree root finds the tiniest of cracks in a drainage pipe, it will send a hair-thin root in through that crack to begin sucking up the water and sending it up to the tree.

Once inside, two things begin to happen simultaneously. The tiny root immediately sends out more threadlike roots inside the pipe which begin growing instantly. These roots grow and multiply inside the pipe, sucking up the nutrient-rich water and sending it back to the tree. At the same time, as these roots grow, the tiny root going through the tiny crack in the pipe also grows. As small as it is, it has tremendous strength. It will eventually burst the pipe completely, causing a rupture in the line, which can bring further complications.

Minor root infestations can be treated by a high-powered water-jetting machine, and/or a mechanical augering cutter tool. Once the roots have been cut out and removed, they should be treated with a root-killing chemical to prevent or delay reinfestation. Major infestations will have to be repaired by digging up the infested pipe, removing and replacing it with a new pipe. Special care needs to be given to the connection points in these repairs, as the slightest crack will result in a repeat of the original problem in time.


Do not ever pour grease down your sink. Period. This is one of the surest ways to bring about a backup of your plumbing lines and your septic tank.

Grease will coagulate once it comes in contact with water. It will then harden into a firm substance inside your pipe, and eventually clog your pipes completely, resulting in overflowing toilets, sinks, and showers. Have I said enough?

Some other things not to put down your drains that may cause a backed up septic tank include:

  • Baby wipes
  • Sanitary napkins
  • Feminine products
  • Condoms
  • Bleach
  • Hair
  • Diapers
  • Dental floss
  • Medications
  • Paints
  • Paper towels

Any or all of these will work together to form the perfect backup recipe. Yes, we have seen all of these terrifying scenarios, along with many more, such as false teeth, sunglasses, and even the overuse of antibacterial soaps.

Improper Plumbing Installations

Sometimes a do-it-yourselfer or a novice plumber may install piping with insufficient fall, or drop, in the piping. This causes the water in a flush to run too slowly, permitting the solids to settle to the bottom of the pipe as the water drains away. By the time the next flush comes along, these solids have dried out and attached to the bottom of the pipe, and buildup begins to occur, finally leading to a clog, and causing a backup.

Effluent Filters on the Outlet of Your System

These are designed to protect your leach field from overload, preventing costly repairs of your septic system. Their function is to keep all solids within the septic tank and allow only water to go out to the leach field.

These filters require regular cleaning and maintenance to ensure their proper functioning. Failure to clean and maintain your effluent filter will eventually cause… yep, you guessed it… backup!

Excessive Rain or Flooding

Especially in situations where groundwater and surface water are not properly diverted and drained away from your septic tank and leach field, heavy rains or prolonged wet or rainy seasons often result in backups in your septic system. The long-term cure for this is to have proper drainage work done to ensure that your septic system is kept protected from stormwater. For all these problems and many more, give us a call at Shankster Bros. to find solutions!

FAQs on Septic Systems Backing Up

What are some other warning signs of my septic system backing up?

Signs of a septic tank backup include:

  • Slow drains
  • Gurgling sounds
  • Sewage odors
  • High nitrate levels

How often should I have my septic tank pumped to prevent septic tank backup?

If you’re wondering why your septic tank is backing up often, regular septic tank pumping is essential to prevent backups and maintain the health of your system. The frequency of pumping depends on factors such as the size of the tank, the number of people in the household, and the usage habits.

Can I use chemical drain cleaners if I suspect a backed up septic tank?

No, your typical household chemical drain cleaners should not be used in your septic system. It can cause harm to the beneficial bacteria in the septic tank and may worsen the problem.

What should I do if sewage is backing up into my home?

If your backed up septic tank is causing leakage into your home, it’s essential to act immediately to minimize damage and health risks. Be sure to stop using the water in the house, avoid flushing toilets or using drains, and contact a professional septic service provider for emergency assistance.

Contact Shankster Bros. for All Your Backed Up Septic Tank Needs

Need assistance? We’re here to help! Get in touch with our team today.

Can You Have a Garbage Disposal With a Septic Tank?

Can You Have a Garbage Disposal With a Septic Tank?

Today we’re going to look at a topic that has haunted many rural homeowners for centuries… Garbage Disposals!

The modern garbage disposal was invented in the 1920s by a brilliant man in Wisconsin named John Hammes, who went on to create the brand known today as InSinkErator. This gentleman unwittingly created a masterpiece which in turn became the cornerstone for a century of bitter debates about the effects of Garbage Disposals on Septic Tanks, on Plumbing Piping, and on Wastewater Treatment Plants.

To use or not to use a garbage disposal, that is the question.

New York City banned the use of Garbage Disposals in the 1970s, fearing that if they were used widely, they might cause blockages of their sewer system. This rule survived until 1997 when studies proved that residential Garbage Disposals would not harm the city’s Treatment Works. Commercial Garbage Disposals, however, are still illegal today in New York City.

Throughout the years, controversy has raged among professionals over the use of kitchen sink Garbage Disposal devices.

There are two major downsides to Garbage Disposals.

The first is Fats, Oils, and Greases. Known in the Sewage Treatment world as FOG.

The fear among professionals is that having a garbage disposal will cause homeowners to dump lots of fats, oils, and greases down the drain via the Garbage Disposal. FOGs are harmful to septic tanks and to Municipal Treatment Plants alike. They slow down the breakdown of solids by handicapping the bacteria.

If you have a garbage disposal, and even if you don’t, one of the biggest things to remember is Never to dump any kind of Fats, Oils, or Greases down your drains! This is a sure way to harm your Septic Tank.

The second pitfall with Garbage Disposals is unavoidable “Waste”.

It is a fact that garbage disposals allow totally unprocessed raw waste to enter the septic tank without having been digested by the human body. This creates a lot of raw matter for the septic tank to break down. This raw waste is coming in without being accompanied by bacteria generated by the human body to help break it down.

Use of garbage disposals are not necessarily discouraged for Septic Tanks, but if you do use a garbage disposal, you should increase the frequency of your septic tank cleaning schedule to offset the increased inflow of undigested waste.

Many modern septic tank systems use effluent filters on the outlet of the septic tank. Homes using garbage disposals may notice the filter clogging more often than those without. Again, you will need to increase the frequency of your servicing of the septic tank systems and filter to compensate for the use of the Garbage Disposal.

Like your mom always tried to teach you,

Eat your food…clean up your plate…and whatever you do, DONT DUMP GREASE down the Drain!

Homeowners… Are Septic Tanks Bad For Environment?

Are Septic Tanks Bad For Environment? It’s About The Water

If septic tanks are managed properly, instead of being damaging to our environment, is actually one of the primary protectors of our lakes, streams, ponds, and rivers!

Let us talk about a few fast facts on water and how Septic Tanks can help the environment:

  • Humans are comprised of roughly 60% water.
  • Around 71% of the earth’s surface is covered in water.
  • About 97% of the earth’s water is found in the oceans and is too salty for use in agriculture, or for human consumption.
  • Only approximately 3% of the earth’s water is fresh, making it suitable for drinking, bathing, washing, and irrigating food crops.
  • The Indiana State Health Department calculates the average household to consume 150 gallons of water per day per bedroom.
  • As a general rule, the average human can only survive 3 days without water.

As you can see, the human race needs to take precautions with our most precious commodity…clean water.

Let’s think about your home with an eye towards water…

There is, first of all, natural water.

1.) Rain and snow.
These fall from above, and once they land, they flow from the surfaces on which they land, seeking the lowest point, always running downhill.

2.) Creeks, lakes, rivers, and ponds.

These are fed by the rain and snow runoff.

These kinds of natural water are referred to as “Surface Water”.

Cities and towns devote a lot of planning and resources to the diversion, capture and retention, and eventual release of these “Surface Waters”.

Our streams, lakes, rivers, and ponds need to be protected from harmful chemicals and pollutants that can be accumulated when natural waters pass through an environment inhabited by man.

The second type of natural water to consider is known as “Subsurface Water”.

These include water that is drained from the surface through drainage networks, as well as residual water tables from which our well water is drawn. Many areas of the earth have underground lakes and streams that remain hidden from our sight. In Wabash County, there is an underground river formation called Teays valley. This huge aquifer extends all the way across Indiana, from Ohio to Illinois, eventually draining into the Mississippi aquifer about 40 miles south of Springfield, Ill.

Our homes are microcosms of this worldwide water management picture.

Each home receives rainfall, which needs to be properly diverted. Rainfall from the roofs needs to be channeled into the piping to carry it to either a surface drainage way or a subsurface drainage network.

Rainwater that falls on our yards and fields needs to be managed properly so that it waters our landscapes but does not erode the soils, or flood our Septic Systems. At the same time, care needs to be taken so this water is not unduly contaminated as it returns to our streams, lakes, and reservoirs. Consideration must be given during construction projects so that both surface and subsurface waters are diverted from foundations, basements, and all components of your Septic System.

Some homes are situated in areas that have a high residual water table. This results in the need for a drainage network around your basement. Often these drainage pipes will empty into a sump pit in the basement. A pump will automatically activate when the pit is full, emptying the water into a pipe that carries the water out either to the surface of the ground or into a subsurface drainage network that eventually empties into a stream or lake.

Our homes generate two types of water…drainage water, and contaminated water.

These two are managed by two separate systems and must be kept separate throughout their lifespans so that both systems can function properly.

A glance at the two lists may look something like this:

Drainage water
Downspouts and gutters
Sump pump
Floor drains in the garage.
Water softener
Yard drainage

Contaminated Water/Grey Water

Washing machine
Kitchen sinks
Bathroom sinks
Bathtubs and showers
Laundry sinks

In the very simplest of terms, if water from the contaminated sources gets into the drainage water system, we are sending contaminated water and pollutants into our streams, lakes, and ponds.

Conversely, if water from any of the drainage system components gets into the contaminated water system, (Septic System), it will cause catastrophic failure of the Septic System!

Remember these things:

  • The most ancient cleaning solution known to man…is water!


  • The water in your septic tank started out as clean water, drawn from the 3% of fresh water in the world. You used it to clean your body, clean your clothes, clean your house, drink and cook with. Once it had performed all these tasks, you sent it down the drain, laden with all the filth from your home. It landed with an unceremonious splash in the septic tank, ready to begin the slow process of being cleansed from all its filth and released back into nature to begin the cycle again.

As you can see, the septic tank, if managed properly, instead of being damaging to our environment, is actually one of the primary protectors of our water lakes, streams, ponds, rivers, and our overall environment!

Can a septic tank fill up from too much rain?

Can Septic Tank Fill With Rainwater, Causing Flooding?

Q. Is rain water supposed to go into my septic tank?

A. No.

Q. Should my downspouts or gutters be routed into my septic tank?

A. No. No.

Q. Should the sump pump in my basement be routed into my septic tank?

A. No. No. No.

Q. Can a septic tank fill up from too much rain?

A. Unfortunately, yes, this happens sometimes for a few different reasons, and often with disastrous results.

The Septic System on your property has been designed through much scientific study using lots of data, including a specific soil analysis of your property by a soil scientist, a site study by a contractor, all reviewed by the local Health Department to determine exact parameters for your septic system.

It has been designed to treat the contaminated water from your home, and eventually release clean, safe water back into the groundwater of the earth.

Think of your backyard like a huge sponge.

If you pour dirty water on the top of a dry sponge, the sponge will retain most of the dirt particles and allow the cleaner water to pass through and be released below.

This is a simplified picture of your home’s Septic System.

All the wastewater that goes down your drains must flow through the Septic Tank, where nearly all of the solids, (poop, toilet paper, kitchen waste), are retained. Then the water is sent out into your backyard sponge through a network of piping to be absorbed and filtered through the soil before being released back into the groundwater of Indiana.

If storm water from any source is allowed to enter the Septic System, it could overwhelm the capacity of the system to treat the water, and will likely result in an overflow of the system to the surface, and/or a severe backup in the house.

A few ways that could happen with your system:

Improper connection of any of the drainage plumbing to the Septic System.

  • Sump pump connected to the Septic System
  • Downspouts connected to the Septic System
  • Floor drains, footer drains, or yard drainage connected to the Septic System

Improper Surface Water Routing

  • Water from your downspouts dumps out right on top of your Septic Tank, or your Backyard sponge, (Leach Field).
  • Water from all of your yard puddles right on top of your Backyard Sponge, (Leach Field), each time it rains.

Improper Subsurface Drainage

  • An underground drainage pipe is dumping water into some portion of your Septic System.
  • Subsurface water in your yard is flowing downhill through the soil and flooding out your leach field below the surface of your yard.

Fortunately, all of these terrifying scenarios are possible to correct. Some of them are easier and less costly than others.

Remember that your Septic System was carefully designed according to soil analysis and calculation of residual water levels on your property. It was calibrated to receive and treat an amount of water consistent with the size of your home. If an overzealous previous owner was in a do-it-yourself mode and decided to hook up some piping to drain some of the water in the yard, that could be why your toilet is refusing to flush when it rains…!

The goal with a Septic System, (Or Leach Field), is to preserve a relatively dry sponge in your backyard, so the soil can adequately treat the wastewater it is designed to absorb. To attain this, we need to make sure that the storm water is not being fed into your system either by piping or simply by ponding on top of your Septic System.

Look for more detail on this subject in my next blog titled “Two types of Water”!

How to find your Septic Tank at Home

Septic Tank at Home

How to find your Septic Tank at Home

Have you ever stopped to wonder what happens to the stuff you flush down the toilet?
Kind of gross to think about, right?

If you’re conjuring up images of cobwebby crawlspaces with lots of creepy-crawly unmentionable creatures sliding, slithering, creeping, or crawling over crusty, rusty, ooey-gooey piping which is oozing out slimy goo from every joint, you may not be too far off. I hope you are. Especially if I’m the lucky guy you call to come fix your toilet that just doesn’t want to flush.

That’s why I want to help teach you how to find your septic tank. If your toilet, sink, or bathtub begins to gurgle, burp, belch, or starts emitting other kinds of strange noises or odors, (Or even worse, Liquids!), don’t panic. Just call 911 and calmly ask for help.

Or better yet, read this blog to find out where in the earth your septic tank might be hiding.

Septic tanks are known for their uncanny abilities to win most games of hide-and-seek with the average human competitor.

Many are the embarrassed humans who have endured the questioning stares, or peeking through the blinds by neighbors who watch with growing concern as they wander aimlessly around the yard, peering behind the bushes, prodding under the flowers, kneeling for a better look under the back deck, gingerly poking at the driveway, all while calling out “Here septic tanky tanky tanky!” And they wonder who to call for help when, after hours spent poking, prodding, stroking, and calling, the neighbor shakes his fist at the sky and disappears into the house muttering and shaking his head, only to reappear a few minutes later and begin to repeat the process with the same results.

The good news is…I can give you a few tips that may help you win the game on how to find your septic tank, gain the respect of your neighbors, and quite possibly turn you into the neighborhood expert on Septic Tank Locating!

Contrary to popular belief, septic tanks Usually do not hide in attics, basements, or any of the many closets you may have in your home.

We will start with the easiest scenario first.

Grab your favorite drink and relax in your favorite spot for a minute. Now gradually start your normal brain functions, but direct them towards your yard. Yes, that’s right, your yard. Forget all about the toilet. Or sink. Or tub. Or whatever it is that is
the root of that panic rising in your chest.  Your yard.

Septic tanks will usually be located in one of your yards. One of the first clues will be the location of your well. Your well? Yes, your well.

The septic tank should not be in close proximity to your well.

So wherever your well is located, you can rule out that area first. Your septic tank will likely be on one of the other sides of the house.

Now that we have ruled out the area with the well, let’s think of some other things. Septic tanks are normally installed with their tops buried under the surface of the ground, usually submerged at least 12 inches or so. Sometimes the depth can be much greater, or a little less. Often there will be a plastic access tube or a concrete riser structure which extends from the top of the tank to the ground surface to allow access for the tank to be emptied by a Septic Pumping company…AKA Shankster Bros.

Many septic tank installers will attempt to blend these access risers into the surrounding landscaping so they don’t create an ugly eyesore.

So the next step is to go over your yard in your mind, searching for any round, plastic lids. These may be black or green and may be from 10 inches to 24 inches in diameter. Secondly, if that comes up negative, think about any round, square, or rectangular concrete lids that may be in your yard or landscaping. Often these will be nearly flush with the surface of the ground so that a lawnmower or rake could go right over the top of it without damaging it.

Start in the areas of your yard closest to your house, and work outwards from the perimeter of your house. Usually, the septic tank access will not be closer than 10 feet to your house, but sometimes in the case of an older home or a later addition to the home, they may be closer.

If you have not been able to locate the septic tank yet, we may need to leave the couch, and go downstairs. Hopefully, you have a basement. Otherwise, you may need to peek in the crawlspace. If your house has no basement or crawlspace, we will use some other clues.

Now that you are in the basement or crawlspace, try to identify the main drainage pipes that carry the wastewater from all your bathrooms and kitchen. These should all converge into one larger pipe, (Usually 4″ in diameter), and exit the house through one of the walls. Identify which wall the pipe exits, and try to estimate the approximate location and the direction the pipe is going outside your house. Now go outside.

Check the area where the pipe comes out of the house. There may be a PVC pipe extending to the surface, with a threaded cleanout cap on it. If you find this, you’re well on the way to victory.

If your house is built on a slab, with no basement or crawlspace, look at the roof. Look for a vent pipe coming out of the roof. Often the piping inside your house will have a vent that runs straight up, all the way through the roof, and sticks out the top. If you locate that vent, it may give you an idea where the piping is exiting the house.

Now continue outward from the house a few feet, looking for that round, square, or rectangular lid. If you can’t find it, look for an area in the yard that may be slightly sunken. Sometimes skillful installers may use round or square patio stones to conceal the access port. If you see one of those, you might try checking under there in case it is covering the access.

If you have been experiencing problems with the toilet or other fixtures draining, you may also want to look for an area that is more damp or wet than the rest of the yard. This could be where your tank is hiding. If all of these tips have not brought you to victory, and you start to notice your neighbors peeking through the blinds with those worried looks that neighbors are so prone to….give us a call!

We have found septic tanks in many strange and unpredictable places. Here’s hoping you win the game on how to find your septic tank. Here tanky, tanky, tanky! If you need to schedule a septic tank cleaning, pumping, or inspection, don’t hesitate to call Shankster Bros at (260)-982-7111. any time.