Home Improvement Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for contractors and serious DIYers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I noticed a small puddle in the backyard that remained even when it's dry out, and recently realized that it's probably the septic system overflowing. The tank was pumped 2 years ago and I don't think we're heavily taxing the system (no garbage disposal, frequently away on travel), so I did a quick household audit and found that one of our toilets has been running pretty steadily. I'm not sure how long it's been going on, but presumably that's contributing to the problem.

The toilet is now fixed, but I'm wondering what I should do about the septic system. Should I get it pumped, or will the water level return to normal after a couple days? The amount of solids and grease entering the system hasn't changed, so I'm hoping that the extra water will just diffuse into the leach field.

Or maybe this requires professional attention?

share|improve this question
My septic designer said that a leaking toilet is a common cause of septic system overload. – Jay Bazuzi Feb 2 '12 at 18:27
up vote 2 down vote accepted

It is entirely possible that if the toilet was running hard enough that that is the source of the problem. Assuming the weather conditions are fairly dry and surrounding ground is not saturated, I'd give it a day or two to subside and let the leach field catch up. If the problem doesn't clear quickly with the toilet fixed, I'd call for a pump and have them check the backflow of the leach field to determine if there is blockage downstream from the tank. Good luck.

share|improve this answer
OK, 1 day later there is no longer a wet spot visible in the yard! We'll see what happens. Thanks. – Henry Jackson Feb 2 '12 at 19:36

I'd say let it sits for a few weeks. It might take awhile now that it is fixed based on the ground saturation and type of soil. Keep in mind that many septic systems these days have two fields. Ours built in 2005 is this way, and there is a switch box that I rotate twice a year. Switching it gives each field a chance to catch up and remain healthy.

There was one time after a big party, that it was obvious the field was over-saturated like you are seeing. I was able to switch the fields, and the overflow from the talk went to the second field, and the first field was able to catch up in a few days.

share|improve this answer
I didn't know anyone ever installed 2 leach fields. I doubt our system has two -- it's not new, I'm certainly not aware of a second one, and would have no idea how to switch between them. – Henry Jackson Feb 2 '12 at 19:38
Well, its technically one leech field. There are just multiple beds. We have 6 runs, divided into 2 pairs of three. So at one time, the septic is using 3 runs. Almost everyone around here in NE Ohio is that way in one form or another, maybe 2x2 runs or 2x4 runs, etc. – mohlsen Feb 3 '12 at 12:56

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.