Septic tank odors can be disarming, to say the least, and can and will linger until they are addressed; a quick spray with a deodorizer will most likely not eliminate the problem. Odors from a septic tank arise as the result of many different causes, and can emanate from both inside and outside the home. This may require implementing one or more odor-fighting solutions to rid your home of the odor problem in its entirety.
Indoor Septic Odors
Removing indoor septic odors can be one of the easiest odors to eradicate. The cause of the odor is often a dry drain, or "trap" in a pipe, usually in a little-used bathroom or sink in the home. The reason a dry trap causes an odor is the pipe is designed in a "U" shape to trap the amount of gases and odor that come back up through the pipes. This simple design works because it will generally have water that sits in the U-shaped trap area of the pipe. However, particularly in less-used plumbing in the home, these traps can dry out, leaving no barrier between the drain and the odor. The fix is to simply run water down the drain, and make certain to do so periodically to avoid future odor problems.
Septic Cleaning Products
Cleaning and flushing out the lines between the septic tank and the home can help to eliminate septic tank odor. Similar to traditional plumbing products, flushing these products through the septic lines may be enough to eliminate the odor. Call your local home improvement store that sells septic tank maintenance supplies or research online to find odor-fighting products.
Extending the septic tank vent stack on the top of the roof is a relatively quick and easy means of eliminating many outdoor odors. The septic vent stacks often do not extend high enough to allow the breeze to safely blow away the septic tank odor. Rather, it is blown back down toward the front or rear of the home, bringing septic tank odor with it. This odor can often be mitigated by simply using a PVC pipe to extend the vent stack to about three feet high. There are also charcoal filters that can be placed over the vent stack, filtering the odors before they are wind-borne.
Other Causes of Odors: Indoors and Outdoors
Pouring coffee grinds and oils down the garbage disposal will eventually cause a backup of the septic lines, bringing odors back up along with clogged materials. Outside, allowing water to collect and pool around the septic tank area can cause damage to the tank, and the moisture may facilitate septic tank odors. Also, you should not plant trees around the septic tank area, although grasses and small shrubbery is generally fine, as the roots can cause damage to the tank and line, resulting in odors and the need for repair.
Calling a professional may be necessary if nothing else has worked. It is possible the septic tank, particularly if it is old or has not been maintained properly, requires a thorough cleaning and flushing of the septic lines. If this is required, make certain to contract with a professional familiar with both plumbing and septic tanks, not simply one or the other. This way you are more likely to address either a tank or a plumbing situation (perhaps both), by the same person during the same maintenance call.