Sewage backup in building: Serious health risk – avoid contact with effluent.
Cause: Roots clogging pipes; blockage in plumbing; excess water from leaky tap; running toilet; pump failure.
Action: Reduce water use; repair taps and toilets; consult a professional to check pump and possibly clean septic tank.
Sewage surfacing in yard: Serious health risk – avoid contact with effluent.
Cause: Excess water entering system; system blockages; improper system elevations; undersized soil dispersal system; pump or controls failure.
Action: Reduce water use; consult a professional and fence area until problem is remedied.
Sewage odour – indoor: toxic gases can cause discomfort and illness.
Cause: Sewage backup in house; roof vent pipe frozen closed; improper plumbing; dry plumbing trap; sewage surfacing in yard.
Action: Check and clear roof vent; consult a plumber; consult a professional to check pump and possibly clean septic tank.
Sewage odour – outdoors: major nuisance, no serious health risk.
Cause: Sewage surfacing in yard; inspection pipe cap damaged or removed; manhole cover partially or fully open; dispersal field is inoperable.
Action: Check caps and replace; immediately replace and secure manhole; consult a professional to repair or replace dispersal field. Sewage surfacing in the yard is a health hazard. Avoid contact with effluent.
Pump alarm activated: wastewater may back up into house, solids may enter dispersal field.
Cause: Electrical breaker tripped; pump unplugged; controls malfunctioning; pump failed.
Action: Limit water use immediately. Check breaker and plugs; consult a professional to check controls and alarm, replace pump.
Distribution pipes/soil treatment system freezes in winter: system may be inoperable.
Cause: Foot or vehicle traffic over piping; improper construction or use of system.
Action: Fence off field area, have a professional check construction.