Should I Hire a Plumber or Septic Service Provider?

Annie Sisk
Written by Annie Sisk
Updated January 12, 2022
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Photo: Cinematographer / Adobe Stock

A plumber may be able to fix your drainage problem, but it’s usually best to hire a specialist for septic system issues

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When something goes wrong with your septic tank, you’ll want to call a pro ASAP. And usually, hiring a septic service pro to take care of a septic system backup is the better choice. However, if your drainage problem is located within your home’s pipes, a plumber may be the one needed to clean out your lines and get things running properly again.

Here’s how to tell which type of professional you should hire when backups and drainage problems occur. 

Benefits of Hiring a Septic Service Pro

If a blockage develops in your septic tank, drain field, or other part of the system outside your home, a local septic service professional is the better choice for clearing and repairing the problem. As with most of your home’s various systems, the septic wears down over a period of years. Generally, your sewer system will last about 25 years, barring heavier than usual usage or a subpar maintenance and inspection history. If your system is at the upper end of that useful life range, it might be time to call the septic service pro. 

Hiring a pro with specific sewer experience will ultimately save you time and money. A septic system pro can inspect your system cleanout to locate the problem. 

The cleanout is a part of the pipe that runs between your septic tank and your home. If there’s standing water inside the cleanout, there may be a blockage between the cleanout and the tank or the tank itself may be overflowing. If the cleanout doesn’t have any standing water, it’s likely a problem in the pipes between the house and the cleanout, in which case you should call a plumber. The septic system provider can identify the source of your problem and recommend the right kind of pro to clean out the backup. 

Can I DIY My Septic System Repair?

It’s important to take precautions when dealing with your septic system and sewage, which can pose risks to your health and safety if you don’t have significant experience in working with one and its various components. For that reason, it’s generally advisable to leave the repairs to the pros. 

Can I Hire a Plumber to Repair My Septic System? 

A plumber can handle any blockage or drainage problem that’s located in the home’s plumbing or in the line between the home and the septic cleanout. If only one fixture is backed up and the system itself is fairly new and lightly used, call a local professional plumber first. If they can’t handle the problem, you can then hire a septic service provider. 

The simplest way to tell if your drainage or backup problem involves your septic system is to count how many fixtures are backed up. If two or more fixtures are backing up or experiencing slow drainage, it’s best to call your local septic system professional. 

That’s especially true if the backed-up fixtures are closest to the septic system—for example, those on the first floor or basement levels. If only a single fixture is backed up, such as a toilet or pipes leading to a single sink, you can hire a plumber. 

How Do Pros Fix Septic System Backups? 

Once your septic system provider has diagnosed a blockage, the first step is usually a routine clean-out of the pumping and tank. If that doesn’t do the trick, they may clean out your drain lines with high-pressure hydro-jetting. The additional pressure and force of the hydro-jetting can usually remove most stubborn blockages. They may also need to pump out your septic tank, which costs around $400 on average.

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