Advice on Septic System- It Stinks!

Updated on May 20, 2011
M.D. asks from Rockport, TX
9 answers

We moved about a month ago to a house with a septic system. We had it inspected and pumped before we moved in. A week or two after moving in- it really stinks in the yard! I have poured bleach in there and it helped short term, I put chlorine tablets in and that did nothing (this was ideas other people gave us) Then I did the Septic stuff that you pour down the toilet and it is not doing any good. What is wrong? Does it take a while for everything to start working. I appreciate any advice- we are new to septic systems.

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So What Happened?

Thanks to everyone... It was an easy fix. We had service people come out Friday. The filter was clogged so NOTHING was pumping thru. The house is only 2 years old and the septic was completely pumped when we moved in. The smell went away within an hour of cleaning the filter. They are coming back on MOnday to check it again. And the service guy really educated us on Septics. Thank you mamas!!

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answers from Charlotte on


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answers from Boston on

Get it re-inspected immediately, by your board of health if necessary. In Massachusetts we have a law called Title V that requires that any home that is sold with a septic system has to pass a test or be repaired or replaced at the seller's expense to get it up to code. If the system passes when the house is sold but fails within one year here, you can sue the inspector and get some help with getting the system back up to code (a "pass" on an inspection is supposed to be good for at least one year).

That said, my current septic system has completely failed and we NEVER smell anything. We have sewage right up to the top of our cesspool and even with waste that close underground, there is no odor. A sewage smell with a septic system is not normal and sign that something is very, very wrong. Please get this looked at by a professional immediately. I hope it's just a simple fix.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Providence on

It should not smell. unless their is a leak somewhere, which is causing it to flow into the yard. I would call the septic tank company and have them look into it. That or you have a leak in your plumbing..

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Louisville on

NO Chlorine tablets!
EEPPPS!!! Obviously whoever you talked to had NO idea on septic!

At this point, since there is so much bleach and such in it, you might have to have that all pumped out and start all over. (you didn't mention how much of either you ran thru) Afterwards, you do not need to use whatever septic stuff you mention above - simple package of yeast will do the trick! Open the package and dump it into the toilet and flush! However, don't do this more than once a month - a properly running septic system can do fine if it is not overrun w/too much water at a time and no greasy stuff or bleaches!

How old is the house and septic system? If you aren't used to one, you can easily overuse it -- we have a neighbor who used to do all her wash on one day and you could tell by the smell, but she has learned and doesn't do that any more! Been on septic since we bought this house - when it rains a lot, we will wash clothes elsewhere so as not to overwhelm the system w/addn'l water.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

The last time we had our septic field pumped (legally we have to do it every 3 years), I asked the techy what was the most important thing to assure a long life of our septic system (they are very expensive to replace). He said 'NO BLEACH'. He tells his wife to do bleach in a pail and take that and throw it in the yard - never down the drain (and into the septic system). Bleach kills the organisms that make the septic field function. Also, sanitary items (ie tampons) should never go in the septic system. Diaper wipes and any other kind of wipe needs to be checked for the words 'safe for septic systems'. If it's not, don't buy it. Lastly, you have to watch your water outflow. For instance, you should not do three loads of laundry and run your dishwasher all at the same time. Too much water can cause the septic to overflow. You need to find out what kind of septic system you have. If you have tiles, driving over them with heavy equipment can break the tiles. I think this is also more susceptible to 'flooding'.


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answers from Washington DC on

Stop the bleach!! You are killing off the bacteria you need to make the system work!!
Put the RidX in there - you might consider a triple dose since there probably isn't any bacteria in there to work on the poo and stuff.
Don't put anything in your septic system that doesn't come out of you. No coffee grounds. No table scraps. No nothing!!
If you have a sink disposal system thingy - don't use it!! (I obviously don't have one because I don't know what it's called.)
It will take a few days or maybe even a week or so to get it regulated again.
Good luck!

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answers from New York on

There are 2 parts of a septic system. The first part is the tank which is where the waste water goes. The liquids then leave the tank and move through a leaching field. There should be no smell at all. If there is then there's something wrong with your system; most probably the leaching field. Bleach will not help and clorine tablets won't either. Have it inspected and see what needs to be repaired. My current house is septic (prior 1 was also) and the only time there's a smell is when the tank is uncapped and pumped every couple years.



answers from Minneapolis on

Everywhere that I have lived have had septic systems and I have never smelled anything like you are describing.



answers from Kansas City on

we moved 2 years ago and have one but I have never smelled anything like you are describing. I would call the people that pumped it and ask them about it, they would probably know working with them everyday and such.

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