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Is My Septic Tank Full Or Clogged? Everything You Need to Know

Septic tanks can encounter various issues with use. Sometimes they get clogged, and sometimes they can rise to the brim, which is hard to encounter. And this issue disrupts your daily life until you identify the problem and fix it.

So how to know whether is my septic tank full or clogged? For a full septic tank, look out for the signs like slow water draining, gurgling sounds in plumbing fixtures, smell around toilets and other openings, etc. On the other hand, the clogged septic tank has issues like water backup in the sink and toilet, strange noises in the septic tank, etc.

A septic tank is the ground reality of any building’s sewage system. In this article, we will explore different symptoms of clogged and full septic tanks so you can figure out what to do. So let’s get to it!

Is the septic Tank Full or Clogged?

To understand if your septic tank is full or clogged, you must know a bit about it. Picture a septic tank as a gigantic water-tight box that accumulates all your building’s sewage waste, settles the solids, and flushes out the liquids through the drain field.

The solids in the bottom are organic waste, and the bacteria decompose it over time so your sewage system runs appropriately. But sometimes, the septic tank can malfunction if improper waste plastic can reach it.

So, in that case, the septic can become filled with more waste than it can handle and lead to different sewage system problems. But knowing if your septic tank is full or something inside is clogging becomes difficult.

Here are the symptoms for both septic tank problems.

Signs Of A Full Septic Tank

When your septic tank is full, its drain fields can’t flush out the liquid waste for further treatment which leads to different sewage issues. Some of the signs of a full septic tank are:

1. Slow Drains and Backups

Whenever your septic hits its capacity level, it makes for sluggish water drainage. Not only in toilets, but you will notice slow drainage in all wastewater openings in the building, like the sink, shower, and any other plumbing fixture.

Moreover, you might encounter water backups more often as the septic cannot handle more wastewater. Your wastewater will take an eternity to flush out thoroughly.

2. Foul Odor

Another classic sign of a full septic tank is the foul smell around all the sewage openings. You will encounter an unbearable foul smell and odor from all the openings, whether a drain pipe, toilet, shower, or around the septic tank. But why does a full septic tank smell?

It is because organic waste decomposition emits gasses like methane. And these gasses can enter the drain pipes if the water level is high, so you will feel a lousy odor across all the openings if the septic tank is full.

3. Lush or Soggy Patches Around the Septic Tank

You will see fungi and soggy patches in every damp place around your house. The same goes for the septic tank. If your septic tank is full, water likely rises above its level, dampening your yard. Result? You will see green patches or sogginess around the septic tank in your yard.

Moreover, with persistent sogginess, you can encounter:

  • A lush green lawn that is more healthy than before
  • Algae budding near the septic tank
  •  Accumulated water near the tank

While these green and healthy lawns might seem pleasant to the eyes, they can indicate a full septic tank.

4. Strange Noises From Plumbing Fixtures

If you want to know if your septic tank is full, you should eavesdrop on the plumbing fixtures. You might say it’s weird, but trust us, it works. If your septic has reached capacity, your plumbing fixtures will encounter flow problems. Result?

The tiny air bubbles in the pipes can make strange noises like someone is gurgling. You will notice these whenever you use the toilet, shower, or sink. You should clean up your septic tank if you see water in the sink with air bubbles.

If you notice these signs, your septic might rise to the brim, troubling the entire building’s sewage system. So you should seek professional help to clean it up for you.

Now these were symptoms of the full septic tank. Let us tell you some signs of the clogged septic tank.

signs of a full septic tank

Signs of a Clogged Septic Tank

If something gets stuck in the septic tank drain field, it will be difficult to flush the wastewater. Moreover, sometimes the solid does not get out of the septic, which can clog it in the long run and cause havoc in your sewage system. So you might encounter the following issues if your septic tank is clogged.

1. Toilet flushing issues

Suppose you go to the bathroom and notice that it takes forever to flush or you need multiple flushes to clear the toilet; it is because your septic tank is clogged. If your septic tank is clogged, the water will remain in the pipes, and when you shower or use the bathroom, the water will drain very slowly.

2. Water backups

Water backups in sinks, bathtubs, and toilets are another classic sign. The overflow and a backup of the water are due to the same reason water remains in pipes. Whenever you notice that all the fixtures in your home have water backup, you need to clear up the septic tank.

3. Vibrations in the Pipes

While a full septic tank also emits weird noises when you drain the water, the clogged septic tanks also have weird vibrations in the pipes. Gurgling noise, vibrations, and pipe rattling indicate clogged pipes.

But why does it vibrate? It’s because the water comes across resistance whenever it goes through the drain field or pipes. And thus emits different strange noises and vibrations.

4. The smell in the house

Like the full septic tank, a clogged one also spreads a foul smell in the house. You will notice a smell near all plumbing fixtures and drain openings. Sometimes this smell is so strong that it spreads to all the houses. The stagnant water buildup in the pipes is the culprit behind this foul odor.

How To Know If The Septic Tank Is Full Or Clogged?

Since both full and clogged septic tank symptoms are nearly identical, it becomes difficult to understand the real problem. That’s why we list some steps to determine if you need to clear up the clog or empty the tank.

Step 1: Check the Liquid Level

Septic tank has three levels of water; normal, above average, and overfilled. You can tell if your septic tank is clogged or full by checking the liquid level.

  1. To do so, you need to open the cover of our septic tank. It is usually in your backyard or on the ground where the tank is installed.
  2. Next, you should get a stick designed to check the water level of the septic tank, or you can choose any long stick that can help dig into the septic tank. If you see that stick is dipped in the septic tank, you must empty it.
  3. Moreover, if you see that the water level in the septic tank is okay but still has water backup, it means your septic tank is clogged.

Step 2: Inspect Drain Field Lines

Sometimes things get stuck in the drain field lines, leading to water backup and other septic tank problems. If this happens, you should walk around the pipes and check out for the signs like water standing near the fields.

Step 3: Get Professional Help

If you can’t figure out if your septic tank is clogged or full, you can seek professional help. They can inspect the drain field and look for signs of the closed and full septic tank.

However, you should consider fixing your septic tank if you encounter a strong odor, pooling water in the yard, and water backup.

Here is the video that helps to check the septic tank properly.


A septic tank is a basic unit of your building’s sewage system. Its maintenance and upkeep are important to ensure your building’s sewage system keeps working.

Sometimes the septic tanks can rise above the specified level and lead to different sewage problems. In addition, if you don’t dispose of your garbage mindfully, it can get clogged. Things like wet tissues etc., can get stuck in it and clog up. So to maintain your septic tank’s functionality, you should figure out first if it’s clogged or full.

If you encounter strange noises and smell near the plumbing fixtures and a lush green lawn near the septic tank opening, it implies that the tank is full. On the other hand, if you see water backup in toilets and showers and a nasty smell in the house, you need to clear up the clog.

However, if you can’t figure out that your septic tank is clogged or full you should seek a professional plumber’s help.