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There’s a Backup: Plumbing or Septic Tank Problem? [Video]

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Backup: plumbing or septic tank problem

When your plumbing backs up and into the house, it can be hard to tell if you should contact a plumber or a septic maintenance provider. Although plumbers and septic maintenance providers may seem to deal with the same type of septic system problems, the truth is these two businesses do not overlap; a plumber does not have the knowledge required to fix septic systems, and we are not equipped to resolve plumbing issues.

Here’s a quick video from Chad with some tips on how to know when to call a septic system maintenance provider like Van Delden or a plumber when your plumbing begins to back up.

If you are experiencing septic backup, try checking the septic system’s cleanout. The septic systems cleanout is the short PVC pipe with removable cap that sticks out of the ground between your house and the septic tank.

  1. If you do not see any backup in the septic cleanout, we recommend you contact a plumber, as this is an indicator that the wastewater from your home is not making it to the cleanout.
  2. If the cleanout does contain backup, it could be from the septic system or it could be a blockage between the cleanout and the tank. In this case there’s a 50% chance you need a plumber, and a 50% chance you need a septic maintenance provider.

Check your septic tank’s liquid level

If your septic tank is exposed, or if you are willing to dig up the lid of the tank, try looking directly into the tank to see if the liquid level is normal or overfull. Normal liquid levels indicate you should call a plumber; an overfull tank means you should contact a septic company.

Your septic system’s age can be a factor

If you do not have a cleanout or cannot check your septic tank’s liquid levels, there is no way of knowing for certain which service is needed; however, your septic system’s age can help you determine who you should be calling for the issue at hand.

The average life of a septic system is approximately 25 years, depending on its usage and maintenance. If your septic system is newer, you may want to consider calling a plumber before you call a septic system maintenance provider. If your septic system is older, there is a greater chance you are experiencing a problem that is directly related to your septic system.

Having problems with your septic tank? Sign up for a free phone consultation with a septic system specialist. No sales pitches, just answers to your septic system questions and concerns — we promise! Call us today at 830.249.4000 (Boerne) or 210.698.2000 (San Antonio).


For 86+ years, Van Delden Wastewater Systems has withstood the test of time as the leading Wastewater System company, providing San Antonio, Boerne, and the surrounding Texas Hill Country with services you can count on now and in the future. 

Call us for any of your wastewater systems needs and let our professionals help you with your septic installation and maintenance requirements: 210.698.2000 (San Antonio) or 830.249.4000 (Boerne).