Proper septic tank maintenance and inspections are vital to any home with a septic tank. Common in areas where there are no connections to the main sewage pipes provided by the city or state, septic tanks break down wastes flushed down the toilet in a home. Bacteria in the septic tank break down human fecal matter so it does not contaminate local water supplies. Without proper maintenance and inspections, septic tanks can overflow causing a number of unpleasant problems.
All fecal mater contains bacteria, some of which is actually beneficial in the human intestines. When these bacteria infect other parts of the body, however, a danger problem is born. E. coli, for example, is a normal part of all humans’ digestive systems, but if it is ingested through the mouth, it can make a person quite sick. Overflowing septic tanks cause wastewater to back up into the house through toilets and bathtub drains. Leaking septic tanks cause wastewater to leak into the yard.
Although not part of a healthy digestive system, viruses from sick people can be shed in fecal material. These viruses can infect healthy, non-infected individuals who come into contact with the fecal material. When dealing with an overflowing septic system, it is important to thoroughly clean any part of the skin that comes in contact with the fecal material to reduce the spread of any viruses present.
Parasites are actually quite common in human feces. If someone comes in contact with parasite-infected fecal matter and does not properly disinfect their hands, parasite eggs could be left on doorknobs, countertops and faucet handles where they will be picked up by other people and possibly ingested.
The bacteria responsible for breaking down feces in the septic system produce methane gas as a byproduct. This odorless gas is explosive and present to some degree in all septic systems. Not flushing out a septic system is a sure way to cause a harmful build-up of methane gas that could leak out into the house.
Another byproduct of the bacteria in a septic tank is hydrogen sulfide, a poisonous, and potentially fatal, gas. Hydrogen sulfide, which smells like rotten eggs, along with methane, exists in the septic tank above the liquid line. If not removed periodically, hydrogen sulfide can back up just like methane. Mild exposure to hydrogen sulfide causes watery eyes, runny nose and respiratory tract irritation. Breathing in concentrated hydrogen sulfide results in shock, asphyxiation and, potentially, death.