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What You Need to Know About Your Septic Pump Alarm

A stone septic tank
If you're a homeowner and your septic pump alarm has just gone off, you may wonder what to do next. While calling for repairs before even switching the alarm off is definitely an option, it may not be necessary. Here's what you need to know about your septic pump alarm.

1. The Alarm Doesn't Mean You Need to Pump the Tank

A poorly informed homeowner might hear the word pump and think that the septic pump alarm signals a need to have the septic tank pumped out. However, the alarm is connected to an internal pump in your septic system that moves wastewater out to the leach field.

With standard gravity-fed septic systems, no pump is needed. If your system has a pump, then it's likely a slightly modified version of the standard system. Some possible circumstances that may require a pump are: 
  • The septic tank is downhill from the drain field, so gravity feeding won't work
  • A low-pressure dose system is used because the soil is too shallow 
  • An aerobic wastewater treatment system is used
  • Wastewater needs to be forced through a sand filter before it reaches the drain field 
Because the internal pump moves liquids and professional tank pumping is a service designed to remove the solids from your septic tank, having an internal pump also doesn't mean you can forgo this maintenance task. On the contrary, a septic tank with a pump will fill up with solids just as quickly as one without a pump. 

2. The Alarm Is Designed to Give You Time to Call for Repairs

The chamber of the septic tank that contains the pump includes a float that senses when the water levels are rising too high and triggers the pump alarm. But if the alarm does go off, don't panic. The float should be calibrated to sound well before your house starts flooding.

The alarm sounds early so you have time to call a technician before anything catastrophic happens. So when you hear the alarm, go out to turn the alarm off. If the red light is lit, meaning there's too much water in the system, simply shut off all wastewater sources - including water from dehumidifiers, water softeners, toilets, etc. Then wait up to fifteen hours and check again.

If the red light is still on, you probably have an issue other than temporary high water usage. Maybe there's a leak in the underground tank, letting it take on excess water. Maybe the pump is damaged. Even so, you should still have time to call a contractor before your house floods with sewage.

Don't neglect the alarm, though. You may be inclined to think that if you don't put any water down the drain, the problem will keep indefinitely. However, although calling a contractor may be inconvenient, it may also be necessary. If the tank is taking on water, hydrostatic pressure could force wastewater up and into your home.

3. Sometimes It's a False Alarm

Temporary high water usage can set off the septic alarm even when you don't need septic repairs, and sometimes a septic alarm goes off simply because the system has lost power - for example, if the circuit breaker trips. When you go out to turn the alarm off, check for a green light in addition to the red light. 

A green light signifies that the power source is connected to the system correctly. If this light is missing, try resetting the circuit breaker. If there's a serious electrical fault, you'll still need to call for repairs. But if the green light comes back on and the problem doesn't recur, it may just be a one-time glitch.

Whether your septic pump alarm has gone off recently or you have some other reason to think you need septic maintenance or repairs, AAA Whites Septic Tank Services, Inc., can give great service and free estimates. Call today and let us know how we can help.