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Can I Shower If My Septic Tank Is Full? What You Need To Know!

We rarely think about our homes’ septic tanks or drainage systems. Besides, we only notice them when the toilet or bathroom is overflowing. A full septic tank is not a pleasant thing to have in your home. So you’re probably wondering if you can still shower with your septic tank full. Let us investigate.

Can I shower if my septic tank is full? Yes, you can; however, it is not advisable. This is because showering causes more water to enter the tank. As the septic tank is full, the water reverts and begins to flow into your bathroom. Therefore, if your sewage disposal system is full, have it emptied to avoid sewage backups in your bathtubs or sinks.

This article will explain the connection between the septic tank and your bathroom for a better understanding.

Can I Shower If My Septic Tank Is Full?

Yes, you can. However, showering when your sewage disposal system is full might cause sewage backup. A sewage backup is when the wastewater reverts to your bathtub. You might also experience slow drainage in your sinks, bathroom, or when flushing the toilet.

Shower water has no solid waste, so ideally, it is not supposed to drain into the septic tank. During construction, most builders connect shower and toilet drains together. As a result, all the wastewater flows into the septic tank.

On the other hand, it is also essential to know how long your shower should be. Typically, the tanks can handle 20-25 minute showers. Long showers can make your septic struggle when processing all that water. For more understanding, let’s look at how septic tanks work.

can i shower if my septic tank is full

How Do Septic Tanks Work?

Septic tanks are utilized in areas without centralized sewage lines. A septic system biologically breaks down waste material. The tank is designed to hold the wastewater long enough to separate into heavier materials that settle in the bottom and lighter materials, such as oils that float on top.

After separation, the wastewater has three parts; the bottom material is called sludge, while the floating material is known as scum. The middle part is mostly part of liquid effluent. Thus, the tank is divided into two compartments.

Through a pair of pipes, liquid effluent exits the first compartment and enters the second. Sludge is kept out of the first compartment by using screens. The wastewater is then slowly discharged into the drain field via perforated pipes.

Likewise, the wastewater is further filtered and purified in the drain or leach fields by circulating through various natural materials such as gravel and wood chips. These substances aid in the removal of toxic bacteria and other pollutants from water.

Afterward, the treated wastewater is released into groundwater or rivers. This is just one of many typical methods of treating wastewater.

How Do Septic Tanks Work

What Does a Septic Tank Being Full Mean?

Your septic tank system may be operating in one of three ranges:

  1. The normal range means that the tank is working normally. This means that all the pipes are functioning well, and the wastewater drains into the drain field.
  2. Meanwhile, the clogged range means that your tank is blocked with sludge. Not all waste is effectively broken down when the sludge level is too high. However, wastewater is still draining into the drain field.
  3. And the full range means that your septic tank is full. If your tank is full, you may begin experiencing sewage backup or slow seepage. It occurs when the wastewater is not effectively draining into the drain field. Therefore, it keeps going back into the tank hence overfilling it.

How Can I Avoid A Full Sewage-Disposal Tank?

The best thing you can do is to empty your tank periodically. Sludge accumulation is what causes the septic tank to start overflowing.  According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, your tank should be emptied every three to five years.

This period is contingent on the amount of waste your residence generates, the size of the tank, and the number of residents. When moving into a new home, it is prudent to empty the septic tank first.

Ensure that you only take a small amount before the next empty. In this manner, sludge will not accumulate to abnormal levels, and your drainage system will not be compromised.

How Do I Know If I Have A Full Sewage Disposal System?

Here are pointers that you should know of.

Slow seepage

If you are experiencing slow seepage, water is not absorbed into the drain field. You may notice it while flushing the toilet or in the kitchen and bathroom drains.

Sewage backup

This happens when you ignore the first sign. As you continue to use water, your tank continues to fill. Eventually, sewage reverts to the inlet pipe and comes out in the drains in your house.

Flooded drain field

Your tank might be full if you notice an unusually greener patch in your backyard. The patch will seem greener than the rest of the grass around your backyard.

Terrible stench

The most prevalent sign of an overflowing sewage-disposal tank is the smell of sewage. This smell might be arising from the ground or the pipes.

How Do I Handle My Full Septic Tank?

The first step is to ask a plumbing company to empty the tank for you. Preferably, get the tank emptied before the rainy season. That is because when it rains, the leach field becomes flooded; hence, waste water does not get absorbed efficiently.

However, if the plumber is away, you can take the following measures to ensure your tank does not overflow.

  • You should reduce the amount of water that goes down the drains, e.g., limiting the family members to shower each at a time.
  • Ensure that your rain gutters do not drain into your sewage disposal system.
  • Use water-efficient taps and showers.
  • Do your laundry in small bits rather than a big pile at once.
  • Plant shallow-rooted grass around your leach field to absorb any flood water in case of rain.
  • Avoid parking your car in the leach field. The car’s weight may damage the soil, which will not absorb water efficiently.
  • Reduce water consumption during the rainy season until the tank is emptied.
  • Avoid disposing of material that is not easy to break down—for example, baby pipes, sanitary towels, coffee grounds, and latex.

How Long Does It Take to Fill a Septic Tank?

How long your septic tank takes to fill is a subjective matter. It depends on the size and the amount of wastewater your house produces. Ideally, a septic tank takes five years to fill, but if you have a large family and the water usage is high, the tank will fill up faster.

The only thing you can do is ensure you empty the tank every one to three years if you have a big family. Suppose you live alone or have a small family; empty the tank every five years. Maintain and clean the septic tank regularly.


So, can I shower if my septic tank is full? Yes, you can. However, you may experience slow drainage and sewage backup in extreme cases. Also, it is time to empty your tank if you notice a foul smell coming from your septic or an unusual green patch near your leach field.

Accordingly, consider emptying your tank every three to five years. This time frame is subject to how large your tank is and how many you are in your family. Suppose the sewage-disposal tank is full, take measures such as reducing showers to one person at a time or reducing water usage.