Understanding And Fixing A Clogged Effluent Filter Issue

4 April 2016
 Categories: , Articles


If you are like many Americans who live in suburban areas, then you have a septic system that takes care of the waste that is produced in your home. While many people cringe at the thought of a problem with their septic system, you should know that not all problems are serious. In fact, there are some issues that you will be able to troubleshoot on your own. A clogged effluent filter is one of these issues, so keep reading to learn about the signs of the issue and how you can fix it yourself. 

Understanding The Problem

The drainfield attached to your septic system lets fluid wastes drain out of the septic tank. This allows the tank to hold more solid waste without filling with fluids extremely quickly. The drainfield is a relatively large area of your property where a series of pipes are located under the earth. The pipes contain perforations that allow the fluids to seep down into the natural water table. A large drainage pipe found at the top of your septic tank allows the fluid to move to the drainage field, and mostly water will make its way through the pipes.

Fluids alone are emptied through the drainage system because solids can contaminate the water table and your property. To help keep solids firmly placed in the septic tank, a filter is placed on the drainage line that leads out of the tank. Most solids sink to the bottom of the tank, but some materials will take longer to sink. The effluent filter collects these solids so they do not mix with the effluent and wash out of the tank.

The effluent filter attached to the septic tank will become clogged over time. When this happens, effluent will not be able to flow out of the septic tank very quickly. If you notice dry patches or cracked earth over your drainage field, then this means that the area of your property is probably not receiving the same amount of water that it once was. In some cases, it may be receiving effluent but some wastes may enter the drainfield. The field will likely smell when this is the case. 

Abnormally high levels of effluent in the septic tank as well as slow drainage throughout the home are signs of a clogged effluent filter as well. 

Fixing The Issue

If you notice signs of an effluent filter clog, then locate the filter attached to your septic tank. Usually, the filter will sit in the clean-out drain located directly next to the septic tank. A small filter cage may sit just outside the tank as well. Look for one of these things and an access opening that sits close by. A cap will sit over the opening. Twist the cap off or use a hex key or socket wrench to remove the nut or bolt on top of the cap so it can be removed.

Place rubber gloves on your hands to prevent fecal waste contamination. Reach in the access opening and feel for the filter. Some filters will have a handle that can be grabbed for easy removal. Place the filter in a clean bucket. The filter will either be a bristle brush or a PVC filter type that can be cleaned and then replaced. Use your hose to rinse off the filter to remove all solid wastes. Pour the contents of your bucket in your toilet.

Since a clogged filter can cause some solids to enter the drainage field pipes, there is a chance that the small perforations have been clogged with waste. To clear out the waste, flush the system with water. Place your hose in the clean-out or the filter housing and turn it on for 5 to 10 minutes, so a good volume of water works its way through the drainage field. Replace the effluent filter and the top cap afterwards. 

If you need help with this maintenance project, contact the professionals at a septic service like SOS Septic Inc