Septic Tank Safety Issues

Posted on: 31 March 2015

If you are a rural homeowner or your home utilizes a septic tank rather than a city sewer system, one of the last things you may think about is the tank becoming hazardous to you and your family. There are many reasons why a septic tank may become unsafe, or lead to unsafe conditions in or around your home, including severe flooding or the overall deterioration of the tank itself. Here are some issues that can occur should your septic tank malfunction. 

Water Contamination

If the area around your septic field and tank is saturated with standing water, it could mean that some of the sewage from inside the tank has seeped out. This  waste can seep through the ground in and around your property, putting you and others at risk for water contamination. Some common contaminants include:

  • Harmful bacteria
  • Disease-causing organisms
  • Raw fecal matter and human urine
  • Viruses
  • Parasites and harmful organisms

If raw sewer seepage reaches your well water, it can make you very sick. Contact a septic tank service professional to take soil samples of the ground around the drinking well. He will also need to determine the original cause of the sewer leak. This will allow you to safely access and use your water once again. 


The soil and grass around a septic field can be a little softer than other areas of your yard—especially if you have an old septic tank or one needs to be emptied. The ground area around an overflowing tank combined with a heavy rain, is prone to collapsing or generating sinkholes. This could cause a person to fall through and become exposed to standing water or sewage. To stay safe if this situation happens to occur, avoid the area and set up a safety perimeter so no one goes into the weakened soil location and gets hurt. Keep the area off limits until you have the septic field checked by a septic tank repair service. To prevent this from happening in the future, keep your tank clean to reduce the risk of a sinkhole. The Water Resources Center at the University Of Minnesota, recommends having your septic tank cleaned at least once every three years to prevent backups and overflow from occurring.

Clogged Or Burst Pipes

Clogged or burst sewer pipes in your home can easily become an emergency situation for you and your family. Exposure to raw sewage can lead to skin, respiratory and gastrointestinal distress, explains the University of Miami. It's important to not come in contact with any of these liquids or materials in order to prevent contamination. A buildup of sewage waste from a clogged or overflowing tank can lead to burst pipes. Contact a plumber immediately to resolve this issue. 

Sewer Gas

Much like city sewer lines, rural tanks and sewer discharge pipes can also generate a buildup of hazardous sewer gas. Septic tanks contain a very low level of oxygen. This allows harmful gasses to accumulate over time. You may smell these gases once they seep into the air or it may be so subtle that it goes unnoticed. A buildup of methane, carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide can quickly deteriorate the air quality in your home. Stay safe by getting fresh air and not smoking or lighting a match. Contact a plumbing pro to evaluate the situation immediately.

Septic tanks are something that you need in order to keep your home's waste contained. Because a malfunctioning septic tank can become a safety hazard, don't try to repair the tank or problem on your own. Call a septic tank repair company or plumber like Mr Bob to take a close look at the underlying issue.