How Do You Unclog A Septic Tank? 3 Ways

As a property owner, there is just no way to go around having a septic tank, but the good part of having one is that when maintained well can last a very long time. Without proper maintenance, you might have clogs that can lead to more damage to your septic tank if not correctly handled. Removing clogs may feel strange to you and lead you to ask

If you are experiencing slowness in the drain or pooling water and foul odors near your septic tank, there may be a clog at one of the septic pipes. Fortunately for you, you can apply three different methods to eliminate the clogs in your septic tank without necessarily calling a septic service professional. 

  • Using a pole
  • Using a mechanical auger
  • Introducing bacterias

These methods sound complicated, but they are pretty straightforward.

First, start by determining the position of the clog inside the septic tank, and check out if you can forcefully extract them. Some clogs can form deep inside a pipe; these types of clogs will have to be removed by mechanical means.

Follow the three methods I will explain below to unclog your septic tank, and always correctly take care of your unclogging equipment to avoid harmful bacteria. If you efficiently care for your septic system, you will not have much need for unclogging.

How Do You Unclog A Septic Tank? 3 Ways

1. Unclog Using A Pole/Stick

You can unclog blockages on the surface levels and not too deeply located with a pole or stick, assuming the water level in the septic tank is under the inlet pipe. The clog is around the drain pipe and can be removed by a pole if close enough for access. But if the water level is above the inlet pipe, the blockage is not in the lines and maybe in the leach field part of the septic system. Follow these steps to remove the clog:

Step 1

Locate a septic access cover, lift the cover/lid gently if it’s a concrete cover, then pry it off slowly to uncover the entrance to the tank. Find the blue or green pipe inside and determine where the clog is. To quickly find the septic access cover, you can check your home blueprint drawings.

Step 2

Using a long pole or stick, push down on the layered dirt (scum layer) stuck; bits of dirt usually build up till it covers the pipe and water stops flowing through. Keep pushing and scrapping the clog down into the septic tank to free up space for the water outlet. When water starts flowing out from the pip, the clog is out. Ensure you wear protective gear against germs, some gloves, and a long work boot to avoid direct contact with bacteria

Step 3

Check for more clogs deeper as your pole can reach by probing the pipes with the stick. Scrape using the pole end any waste around the pipe’s walls, scrape and push them into the tank. If the clog is in the lines, the probe and scarps should free them up for water to flow out, but if it doesn’t flow out, know that the clogging is deeper inside the pipe than the stick can get to. In this case, you can use the 2nd method. The Pole feeding method only works depending on the proximity of the clog to the surface.

Step 4

With the clogs free, replace the access lid onto the septic tank, put the top to fit in, and cover the hole perfectly. If it’s a concrete lid, reseal using small cement. Ensure the lid is tightly shut and doesn’t slip around. Never leave a septic tank open; accidents can occur, so someone falls in.

Step 5

After using the pole, make sure you wash and disinfect the equipment with bleach and lots of water to kill any bacteria. Soak the tools in disinfectant for at least 5 minutes. And shower immediately after, and wash your clothes with laundry sanitizer. Take care not to carry any germs back to your body.

2. Unclog Using A Mechanical Auger

This method uses a mechanical auger instead of a pole, a pole can only reach some length, but an auger goes deeper into reaches father inside the pipe. An auger is an extended cable made of metal with a rotating bit that cuts through any clog blockage. An auger can be bought at a hardware store or even rented. Follow these steps to unclog with an auger:

Step 1

Remove the septic access lid gently to gain entrance to the tank, and locate the clogged septic pipe. Always wear safer gear like glasses to protect your eyes from injury in the event of loss of machine control and work gloves to avoid the spread of germs to you.

Step 2

Feed the auger into the clogged pipe blades first; the auger’s long metal cable is for cutting through the blockage and ends with a rotating bit end, place the auger’s cutting blade inside the pipe and push in for about 1-2 feet. Plug the auger to an electrical point. Ensure the blade part is inside the line before turning the auger on.

Step 3

Keep pushing the length of the auger more, plunging into the pipe as it breaks any clogs it encounters apart. If there is resistance due to a significant clog, use your hand to turn the cable back and forth to dislodge the blockage. Continue till water starts flowing out and the auger moves freely. Always hold the auger with at least one hand to avoid it flipping out and flying about; this might lead to an accident.

Step 4

Make sure you turn off the auger before pulling it out of the pipe and remove it slowly. Do not touch the auger without a glove because of germs and waste. Clean the auger with a rag soaked in disinfectant and a water hose, and close the septic lid tight.

3. Use Bacteria

Bacteria break down waste molecules in the septic tanks. There are natural bacterias in any tank, but sometimes, they might not be enough to work as fast as the clog develops. You can purchase aggressive bacteria to add to your septic tank. This method is not a fast solution and will take days or weeks.

The use of bacteria is the best because it is organic and does no chemical harm. It also has no risk of accidents or the stress of locating the clog. The bonus is that the bacteria will multiply rapidly and always eat anything organic, leaving your septic tank clear of blockage. Otherwise, you feed inorganic contents into the drains.

How Can You Tell If Your Septic Tank Is Clogged?

A septic tank is essential and thus needs routine maintenance. When properly maintained, it can last years though it will have to be replaced eventually. But a septic tank that is not adequately maintained runs the risk of costly and dangerous faults. Malfunctioning septic is a health hazard to humans, animals, and the environment.

No matter how minor the fault is from a septic tank, the user should locate it and make repairs to it as soon as possible to prevent more damage, diseases, and pollution to the environment. You can know by any of these signs if there is a clog in your septic tank:

  • Water and waste from drains, toilets, and sinks start backing up into the house.
  • Showers, Bathtubs, and sinks start draining very slowly.
  • Gurgling sounds in the plumbing system while draining water.
  • Pools of water and damp spots near the septic tank or drain field.
  • Nasty odors emit around the septic tank or drain field.
  • Presence of bright green, spongy lush grass over the septic tank or drain field, even during dry weather.

These signs can mean that your septic tank is clogged, and you should unclog it immediately. You can always call a professional to check your septic tank and fix any failures immediately after you notice these signs.

How To Unclog A Septic Tank With Baking Soda

We recommend treating your septic tank at least once a month to clear clogs. Baking soda is an excellent way for preventive treatments for clogs. It has no damage or adverse effects on the tank or its bacteria. Pour ¼ cup of baking soda into 1 cup of water and ½ cup of vinegar, and you can add 2 or 3 tablespoons of lemon juice as a deodorizer.

As the mixture starts to fizz, pour it down the drain and wait for ten minutes, then use a plunger to plunge the drain.

While baking soda might be effective for minor clogs, it might not work efficiently with more significant clogs or clogs in deeper parts of the septic pipe. You can use a mechanical auger for the deep clogs or call a professional to unclog them.

What Can I Put In The Toilet To Unclog It With A Septic Tank?

Toilet clogs are very nasty as the waste, instead of draining into the pipes, resurfaces back into the toilet seat, and it is just horrid. But even as awful as it is, do not ever use chemicals to try to unclog the toilet when your toilet uses a septic tank system. Chemical products kill helpful bacteria in the septic tank.

They kill bacteria that eat up waste and help prevent clogs. It can also damage your septic tank. There are better ways to unclog your toilet and still have a healthy septic tank. You can do any of the following;

1. Use A Plunger

You can suction air down the toilet pipe and unclog the blockage, or insert a snake into the line and dislodge the blockage down into the tank. Both the plunger and snake can be used hand in hand to solve almost all clog experiences in your toilet.

2. Use Baking Soda

Pour a cup of baking soda into the toilet pipe, then follow with two cups of vinegar to push the baking soda down and make it fizz. As it fizzes, it breaks apart clogged particles. Keep repeating this process till all blockage unclogs. Then flush properly.

3. Use Hot Water

You can also boil water to near boiling point and pour it into the toilet. The heat dissolves the clog, and the water’s pressure pushes it down into the tank. Please do not pour boiling water, so you don’t break the porcelain toilet seat.

Does Baking Soda Help Septic Systems?

A responsible septic owner is always concerned about how to improve or ensure his septic tank functions efficiently, and that includes determining which solution is the best for the system, so the answer to the question about baking soda is Yes. Baking soda helps your septic system.

It raises the pH scale of the tank to a neutral condition. Bacterias thrive on a neutral scale; the more bacterias, the faster they can break down waste and digest waste. Baking soda is the organic way of cleaning a septic system and keeping it working correctly without threat to the good bacteria, unlike bleach and ammonia-containing cleaners that are harmful to the septic system.

How To Prevent Clogs In A Septic System

Regular maintenance is the best way to ensure your septic tank does not get clogs. Though clogs usually are due to the build-up of scums over time, routine maintenance will clear it up and save you some money on repairs. We recommend that you clear your tank every four to five years, depending on how much waste you dispose of.

However, following this guide will help prevent clogs and help your septic tank give you much more value.

  • Install a filter to the drain to filter larger debris from passing through the pipe. Always clean out the particles of waste caught on the filter and replace them when it wears out.
  • Do not pour anything else except water and natural waste down the drain. The septic system cannot handle more oversized waste products like food particles, cigarette stubs, etc. this is the fastest way to clog your septic tank.
  • Do not plant trees near the septic tank. The roots can grow over the pipes and block waste passage or even crush them, causing a leakage.
  • Do not park cars around or over the septic tank.
  • Use grass and small weeds to cover the ground around and on the septic tank. The grass will help control erosion around the tank and its line.
  • Avoid using chemicals and cleaning agents that are harmful to the good bacteria in the tank.
  • Do not rinse grease into the drains. Grease can stick around the pipes and attach to other debris to form a clog.


Maintaining a septic system is mandatory to ensure it functions well and lasts a long life. This maintenance includes eliminating clogs in the septic tank too. Clogs are not good in a tank because it causes water to back up into the drains inside the house, leading to odor, a dirty environment, diseases, and the inability for water to go down into the septic tank.

If you have any clog situation, you can use some of the methods we have given, and if it persists, don’t hesitate to contact a professional septic service to help.

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