Knox County Tennessee

Septic System Maintenance

How do I know if my septic system is failing?

Wondering if you have septic system problems? Here are some telltale signs that you may require maintenance:

  1. Sewage backs up into the house via drains.
  2. A smell of sewage outside the house near the septic tank or around the field lines, especially if this smell is more noticeable after a lot of water has been put into the system, like when there are multiple showers taken or several loads of laundry done in a small amount of time (if the laundry water discharges into the septic system).
  3. A “spongy” feeling in the lawn above the drain field or near the septic tank. The “spongy” feel may be caused by water and waste being pushed to or near the ground surface.
  4. Standing water (called breakthrough) is noticeable in the lawn above the tank or drain field.
  5. A patch of bright green grass over the drain field in the winter, or lush green growth in the summer when other grasses are slow-growing.
  6. Buildup of aquatic weeds or algae in streams or ponds adjacent to your property.
  7. Gurgling sounds in your pipes or drains.

How do I prevent my septic system from failing?

  1. Pump out your septic tank every 3-5 years
  2. Do not flush the following:
    • Grease
    • Trash
    • Feminine Products
    • Cat Litter
    • Coffee Grounds
    • Cigarette butts
    • Bleach
    • Motor oil
    • Cleaners
    • Pesticides
    • Diapers
    • Toys
    • Household Chemicals
    • Wet-strength paper towels / wipes
  3. Repair or replace leaky fixtures. These can add water to the drain field, so replacing or repairing them will reduce the amount of water the soil has to absorb.
  4. Maintain a proper cover of grasses or other vegetation over the drain field. Be sure to direct downspouts away from the drain field.
  5. Do not build or drive over any part of your septic system.
  6. Inspect system components on a regular basis. 

Still have questions?

Contact (865) 215-5800 for septic funding inquiries.

Get Connected
  • Facebook
  • twitter
  • rss
  • email


205 West Baxter Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37917

Phone: 865-215-5800
Fax: 865-215-5831

Monday - Friday
8:00 am - 4:30 pm
Department Email

Report an
Illicit Discharge or Spill

Looking for a Speaker?
Reporting for Drainage Concerns?