Just had your septic tank pumped, and it’s full again? Here’s what to do

Coker Septic | Jun, 7

Pumping a septic tank is dirty and exhausting work, so it can be very frustrating when it becomes full again quickly after pumping. If you just had your septic tank pumped and it’s full again, it may be a sign there is a problem with something other than the tank itself. There could be several reasons why that happens, so let’s see what can be the cause.

What is a septic tank?

A septic system consists of a few elements, and the main one is a septic tank. A septic tank is a large container placed underground, and its purpose is to collect and hold your household’s wastewater. The inside of this tank has two chambers. As the wastewater flows through in the first chamber, solids settle on the bottom, and the scum rises to the top. The solids are then digested anaerobically by bacteria, reducing the volume. As for the second chamber, more solids and scum are removed and allowed to settle before the liquid continues its flow into the drainpipe that leads to the drain field. A drain field is a “liquor stop” where the water is cleaned furthermore.

What does a full septic tank mean?

There are three different definitions of full:

  • Normal level
    Every tank is designed for a specific water level. The water level is normal when the inlet and outlet pipes allow waste and wastewater to flow in and out with no issues.
  • Accumulation of sludge
    The wastewater continues to flow out to the drainage area, but a sludge gets trapped over time. It won’t disappear on its own, so septic tank cleaning is needed to prevent the tank from overflowing.
  • Overfilled tank
    When the drain field gets to the point it stops accepting water, the water will start backing up, which will cause the overflow of the tank, and the water levels will rise to the very top of the tank’s capacity.  

Difference between a full and an overfull tank

The tank has to be pumped regularly, and even after it has been pumped, it can fill up again right away. But there is a difference between a full and an overfull tank. It’s important you know your tank’s normal operating water level. Also, to know the difference between the two, you should know that the septic tank contains two types of pipes, inlet and outlet pipes. The inlet pipe’s task is to implement the liquid to the tank, and the outlet should direct the water to the next element of the system, and it sits a bit under the inlet pipe.

If the liquid gets OVER the outlet pipe, that is a sign your septic tank is overflowing

Signs your septic tank needs to be pumped

There are plenty of signs that indicate an overfull tank that requires pumping: 

Pooling water

You should always be on the lookout for pools of water around drain field areas as it can be a sign of an overflowing septic tank. Of course, if it hadn’t rained recently. Pools of water can appear because the liquid is forced to the top of the ground as the tank is at its full capacity, and there could be solid water blocking the system.

Slow drains

We suggest you keep an eye on the water draining throughout the house. If the water drains slower than usual, it can signify either a clog or a full septic tank. Either way, slow drains should not be ignored or prolonged.

Trouble flushing

This sign can be a consequence of the previous one. Struggling to flush your toilet can be an indicator your tank might be full. 

Sewer backup

This is a sign you definitely won’t miss out and definitely don’t want to happen as it is the most damaging. So, keep an eye on your lowest drains in the house.


Because all the wastewater from your house goes into this single tank, the smell coming from it won’t be pleasant, and it’s going to be a smell you notice. If you start smelling the odors around the tank area, it is a sign the tank is either overfull or getting close to it. Either way, you should get it sorted out as soon as possible.

Gurgling water

Gurgling sounds in your pipes shouldn’t be ignored, especially if they’re consistent. They’re literally saying the tank needs to be emptied. 

You just had your septic tank pumped, and it’s already full again; what can be the cause?

A few reasons can lead to this unpleasant scenario. You should monitor the following details:

  • Malfunctioning drained field
    The drain field is an element of a septic system that is actually a disposable area where contaminants are washed from the water coming from the tank. Sometimes the water can appear above the tank and cause a bad odor. In that case, pumping won’t do much. The septic tank contractor should do the following:

    • Replace the septic system
    • Install new drain line
    • Mine and add new soil to the area
  • High water level
    The water level in the septic tank can be normal – when the tank holds the amount of water following its capacity, and high – when the tank overflows and the water is leaking through any eyelet. If you just had your septic tank pumped, but it’s full again, and the water is overflowing, that can be concerning. In that case, you should check your shower head, toilet, or faucets for any leakage and fix it and reduce using water and the number of flushes.
  • Too much wastewater
    Your septic tank can fill faster if your household uses an excessive amount of water. Check with your family members if someone is taking extremely long showers, brushing teeth without turning the water down, or you’re doing unnecessary loads of laundry. Another reason may be a leak. If you don’t find a source of leaking inside the house, the problem is in the underground equipment. Then it’s time for professional help. Septic service Miami is just a call away from you!
  • Blockages and clogs
    Overfilling of a septic tank can be caused by a clog or blockage of any area in the system. Have your pipes inspected and cleaned thoroughly. Be careful of what you pour and throw in your drains. Avoid flushing wet wipes, kitchen paper, tissues, and any type of garbage down your toilet. An outside blockage is also widespread as tree roots can grow through anything. 

How long does it take for a properly functioning septic tank to get full again?

The time needed for a septic tank to get full depends on its size. But generally speaking, one person can fill up 300 gallons of a septic tank in 6-7 years. Therefore, for a family of 4 to fill up a 1000 gallon tank, it takes 5-6 years. So if you had your septic tank pumped and it’s full again sooner than this, a bigger problem is involved, so hire someone to find the source of it.

Is it normal for a septic tank to be full of water?

For a septic tank to work correctly, it has to be filled up with a certain amount of water before using it (to its normal level). The water helps the sludge and scum flow easier through the septic system. So yes, it’s normal.

Final thoughts

Septic tanks don’t require much to be maintained. Regular pumping is half the work and prevents hazardous accidents from happening. Staying on top of your septic tank maintenance will help you in the long run. Don’t wait until the tank overfills; schedule a call with our emergency septic services now. Otherwise, you may find yourself having a major mess on your hands as well as a major problem and higher expenses.