If you are a homeowner with a septic system, regular maintenance is essential for extending the lifespan of your system. Occasionally, an alarm will sound and it's important that you understand what a septic alarm means and how to check for the cause of an engaged alarm. 

There are two kinds of septic systems, conventional and aerobic. When an alarm is engaged on a conventional septic system, this is generally indicative of a high water alarm; high water levels can be caused by a variety of issues, including a clogged effluent filter, a failed pump or float, or a clogged outlet line.  Cleaning your effluent filter every 6 months is recommended to help reduce the risk of clogged filters, and checking floats for operation and outlet lines for flow can also help you determine if they are the source of your alarm.

Aerobic septic systems have some kind of aeration device to assist in the treatment process; this could be either a shaft or submersible aerator or an external air pump. When the alarm is sounding on an aerobic treatment system, the culprit is likely high water levels in the tanks or an issue with the aeration device.  Checking that the aeration device is running and your water levels are below the inlet and at the bottom of the outlet – these are the easiest troubleshooting steps for homeowners. When in doubt, calling a wastewater system professional is a safe option to make sure your system is running efficiently.