How to Know a Septic Tank Pump Is Not Working

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When a septic tank pump stops working, you might not know it right away, but eventually, it's going to become impossible to miss. A malfunctioning pump doesn't move effluent through the system and out to your drain field, so your tank will get too full and back up into your home or into the ground. Life is a little less gross if you can prevent that from happening. A number of warning signs may be trying to tell you that there's something wrong with your septic tank's pump before it's too late for a fix.

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Signs Inside the Home

When your tank's pump isn't moving old wastewater out of the tank, new wastewater doesn't have anywhere to go. One of the first warning signs you might notice is a gurgling sound in your pipes or that your drains are clearing more slowly than normal. Water backing up into your sinks, tubs, and toilets or the telltale odor of sewage inside your home are good indicators that something's off with your septic tank.

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Signs Outside the Home

There are a few significant challenges to diagnosing septic tank pump problems at the source. For one, any hands-on work with a septic pump can be pretty unpleasant unless the pump is housed in a separate box from the tank itself. It's not something you should attempt alone or if you're unfamiliar with your septic tank pump.

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Even if you're a septic tank novice, you may be able to detect signs of a malfunctioning pump when you head outdoors. You may smell a sewage odor around your property and/or see pools of standing water around your septic system's drain field if your pump isn't draining correctly.

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Sound (or no sound) is a common indicator that your pump isn't working. Hearing no sound coming from the pump might mean there's an electrical issue, and no power is getting to it. Check the breaker box that controls your pump for a blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker. If your pump is making a lot of noise or is running constantly, that could indicate one of many things, including a loose impeller or a problem with the floats that tell your pump when to turn on and when to turn off.

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Can You Fix Your Own Septic Tank Pump?

Unless the problem is as simple as a tripped breaker that shut off power to your pump, call a professional for help with septic tank repairs. No one should start fishing around in a septic system unless they're trained to do so. There are also a lot of ways for septic tank systems and pumps to be configured, so if you don't know exactly how your system works and where all the components are located, it's too risky to DIY your repairs. Often, a malfunctioning pump can't be fixed and needs to be replaced entirely by your service company.

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Even if you suspect your system's problem may be electrical, call your septic service company first for troubleshooting. They can tell you whether your specific problem requires calling an electrician or whether their own technicians can handle it.

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