Smelling Septic Tank Odor? It Could Be From These 3 Problems

One problem in a home that often causes immediate concern is a bad odor. If you own a septic tank, it could be from odors somehow leaking into your home that should not be there. Here are some possible reasons for a bad smell in your home, and what you can do about it.

P-Traps That Are Dry

Every plumbing fixture in your home uses a p-trap. Much like the name implies, it is shaped like a sideways letter P and traps water inside the curve that is facing downward. It uses a barrier of water to block odors from coming into your home, while still allowing water to easily flush through the p-trap when in use.

One problem you may run into is when a p-trap dries up and allows gas to seep inside your home. This can easily happen if you have a guest bathroom that is rarely used, and the water inside the p-trap has started to evaporate. If the water level in the trap drops enough, gases from the septic tank will get into your home.

The easy solution to this problem is to run water down the drain to fill up the trap. If the odor goes away, that was your problem.

Lack of Bacteria

It's also possible for a lack of bacteria in a tank to cause a problem when too much waste is not able to break down and creates an overwhelmingly bad odor. A septic tank actually requires bacteria in order to break down solid waste, but if you flood the tank with too much clean water, the tank won't be able to break down solid waste. This can happen if you are doing many loads of laundry in a row that overwhelms the tank with clean water, or have many people take long showers all in a row.

You may need to put a bacteria additive into the tank so that it can start breaking down the solid waste again, or contact a septic tank maintenance company for assistance with pumping the clean water out of the tank.

Not Pumping The Tank

If you let a septic tank get too full, that solid waste will eventually start backing up into your home. This creates an obvious odor, slow-moving drains, and gurgling sounds. The only solution is to have the septic tank pumped to get rid of the solid waste and start from scratch again with an empty tank.

More information about septic tanks can be found on websites such as