How Much Water Can My Septic Tank Handle? (Explained)

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The volume of water that a septic system can handle depends on the size of your tank. For most homes, the septic tank can hold around 1,000 gallons of water every day. While this should be sufficient for any home, leaking faucets can dramatically add to your water usage, making it insufficient.

Cleaning and unblocking septic system. View from above.

Can You Put Too Much Water in a Septic Tank?

If you’re moving from a traditional sewage system to a home with a septic system, there are many habits you need to unlearn. One of them has to do with water usage, as you can only put so much water in a septic tank within a specific period.

In a septic system, excessive water usage is a major cause of problems. Septic tanks are designed to process a specific amount of water per hour, and going above this threshold can clog the system, building up unwanted scum.

With that being said, it’s also important to note that only not all instances of a faulty septic tank are a result of excessive water usage.

There are other ways to overwhelm a septic tank that has nothing to do with the amount of water used in the home.

Also, solid waste will build up in your septic tank over time, causing it to gradually fill up, even with proper maintenance. To counter that, homes with septic tanks undergo an occasional maintenance procedure known as pumping.

How to Know If Your Septic Tank is Full

Understanding that you can overwhelm your septic tank with too much water is one thing, and knowing when, or if you’ve already filled up your septic tank is another.

Many warning signs hint at a full septic tank, but it takes experience to detect them. Here are some of the signs you should look out for in your home’s plumbing system to tell if your septic tank is full.

Foul odors

One of the earliest warning signs of a full septic tank is foul odors around the tank and across your entire yard. Sometimes, this smell could spread into your bathroom or apartment, which is the absolute worst-case scenario.

If you find it increasingly difficult to go near the area around your septic tank due to foul odors, the tank may be filling up quickly.

A major disadvantage of smells from your septic tank is how disrupting it is to neighbors; you won’t be the only person to bear the brunt of it, your neighbors will perceive the odors too.

While foul odors around a septic tank usually indicate that it’s reaching its capacity, it’s not always so. A leak from any of the pipes around your home can also lead to a foul smell in and out of the house.

Slow sewage drains

This is a logical effect of a full septic tank. When your tank starts to reach its maximum capacity, it becomes increasingly difficult to drain water away from the kitchen sinks, bathrooms, and toilets.

Slow drains usually indicate a septic tank filling up, but they can also be a sign of dirt clogging up in your tank. You may also notice that toilets around the house don’t flush properly anymore, in addition to the slow drains.

If you’re not sure if the problem is caused by a clog of dirt, you should try using a septic-free drain cleaner. If a clog of dirt is all that’s preventing the water from draining, the drain cleaner should fix the problem. Otherwise, the problem is clearly not a drain clog.

Waste backing up

This is very similar to slow sewage drains, but even more annoying. It refers to a situation where the waste that went into the septic tank is sent back up because the tank is full.

This sign requires the most urgent attention, as it can practically disfigure your home. The sight of sewage coming back up into your bathroom isn’t lovely, and it also isn’t something you want to see quite often.

How Much Water Can My Septic Tank Handle?

If your septic tank is full, you can hire a professional to correct it. However, if you still don’t know how much water your septic tank can handle comfortably, you’ll end up hiring another plumber in no time.

The amount of water that your septic system can process over a given period depends on the size of your house, and more importantly, the tank.

On average, a human uses about 70 gallons of water per day. Since a septic tank works on the assumption that two people use each bedroom, you can get the optimum of your septic tank by multiplying twice this number by the number of bedrooms in your home.

Of course, this isn’t always the case, as many houses use the same size of septic tanks. The most common septic tanks can hold around 750 to 1,250 gallons of water comfortably per day.

How to Reduce Water in a Septic Tank?

When your septic tank is flooded, you’ll need to take proactive steps to handle the situation. While the best way to handle a flooded septic tank is to call a professional, you don’t always have to do that for every situation.

Here are some of the ways to reduce the volume of water in your septic tank without needing to hire a professional plumber.

Reduce the volume of water drained in the home

If your septic tank fills up before it should, one of two things has happened; it’s either you send too much water down the drain or a pipe is leaking.

While the latter is a more common cause than the former, using less water for your household tasks can also slow the effects of a faulty pipe until you can fix it.

Some creative ways to reduce the volume of water that goes through the drains include doing your laundry at the laundromat, installing water limiters, and practicing general water-saving tips.

Leakage Of Water From Pipe

Fix leaking pipes and faucets

Leaking pipes and running toilets waste so much water that they could easily overwhelm your septic system, inviting all the problems that typically come with a full septic tank.

If you won’t like to deal with a water usage problem without using any water, it will do a great deal of good if you fix all the leaking toilets and pipes as soon as you discover them.

Flush selectively

Water isn’t the only thing that can overwhelm your septic system. For most people, water isn’t the main factor that leads to a full septic system!

Moving to a house that uses a septic system means you’ll need to review what kind of home cleaning products you use, as you should only use biodegradable cleaners with a septic tank.

The septic system relies heavily on the natural action of bacteria to break down and process waste. Using strong chemical-based cleaning products will only harm these bacteria, disrupting the natural process of eliminating the waste.

In addition to using septic-safe products exclusively, you should also avoid flushing any solid thing other than toilet paper.

All of these practices help you maintain a good septic system that’s capable of handling all the sewage in your home.