What is a Septic Alarm and What Do You Do When You Hear It?

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Septic alarms measure the water level in your septic system; the alarm will go off if the water level in the pump tank gets either too high or too low. Either situation can damage your septic system and if the alarm goes off, you must act quickly.

Reasons Why the Septic Alarm May Sound

High water levels are the most common situation, as well as a power outage; on some systems, the alarm may go out if the power to the septic pump goes out.

Putting large amounts of water down the drain is perhaps the most common reason; doing extra loads of laundry, or guests taking extra showers could overload your septic system, and set off the alarm.

Heavy rain can also cause your septic system to overload. Rain can cause groundwater levels to rise, and seep into your septic system. As it overflows, the alarm will go off.

The alarm may go off if a part, such as the septic pump, a float or the timer is faulty.

What to Do If the Alarm Goes Off

First, you need to find the “off” button or switch on the alarm box and turn it off.

Next, turn off your water use. No showers, dishwashing or laundry. Also, stop any lawn sprinklers.

You need to find the cause; take the lid off of your septic tank and look inside. Check the water level and see if there is an obvious problem with the floats.

If your septic system has a control panel, turn the switch to “manual”. If the pump starts and the water level drops, you probably have a float switch problem. However, if the pump doesn’t start or the motor just hums, and the water level doesn’t drop, you probably have a pump problem.

If the motor starts when switched to “manual”, you will need to try the float switch. This turns the pump on and off. Use an ohmmeter to test the float switch for continuity. The ohmmeter won’t get any reading when the float switch is off, but it should get a continuity reading when the switch is on.

If your system doesn’t have a control panel, your septic pump likely has a “piggyback” float switch going to the outlet. Pull the piggyback float switch out, and plug the septic pump directly into the outlet. If the pump starts and the water level begins to drop, you may have a faulty piggyback switch. However, if the pump doesn’t start or simply hums, the pump is the problem.

Hopefully, these tips will help troubleshoot your septic system problem. If not, don’t hesitate to call a professional septic service for help.