Your septic system is equipped with an alarm. This alarm is meant to alert you of any problems that occur within the system prior to it filling your home with backflow. How does this alarm work and what do you do if it sounds?
How the Alarm Works
Inside the septic tank, the pump is equipped with a floater. This floater rises with the waste water as the level increases inside the tank. Once the water reaches a certain level, the pump kicks on and pulls the liquid out of the tank and sends it into the sand mound or leech bed.
If the pump fails to turn on, the tank will not drain, and the float will rise high enough for the alarm to sound. It should give you more than enough notice to stop running water into the septic system so that it doesn't overflow into your yard or travel back up into the house.
When the Alarm Sounds
The minute you hear the alarm buzzing, beeping or squealing, you need to act. Stop running water down the drains and do not flush your toilets. Any water that is introduced into the septic system will add to the problem.
Now, head to your breaker panel and check to see if the septic pump breaker has been tripped. If it's off, flip it back on and see what happens. If it immediately flips off, there's a problem that needs to be resolved before the pump will work again. It could have a clog or it could have failed. If the breaker stays on, head out to your septic tank and remove the cover. Is the pump pulling the water out of the tank? If so, your problem could be fixed. If not, contact your local septic repair technician for septic pumping.
When your septic system was installed, the technician should have used two breakers for the electrical connection—one for the pump and one for the alarm. You don't want the alarm and the pump on the same breaker because if something happens to the pump, the alarm will need electricity to sound. So, if the pump gets clogged and trips the breaker, you'll never know if you don't have them hooked up separately.
Septic tank problems are never something to ignore. If you act at the first sign of trouble, you'll reduce the cost of clean-up and repairs, so keep your septic professional's contact information handy.