A person coughing, suggesting that they’re sick

Common Health Risks Associated with Septic System Failure

Septic system failures typically manifest in the form of gases and wastewater being released from the septic system . Essentially, a septic system failure occurs when sewage ends up somewhere it shouldn’t.

Sewage water can back up through the pipes and into the home or building through sinks, toilets, etc. A leak in the pipes could cause sewage water to contaminate groundwater or cause it to spill out elsewhere. Sewage and wastewater contain harmful pathogens and contaminants that can quickly make people sick. Here are some conditions you may face as a result.


Diarrhea can spread following a septic system failure due to multiple bacteria. E. Coli (Escherichia Coli) are bacteria that you can find in animal stomachs (including ours). While most E. Coli varieties are harmless, some cause diarrhea and more. Campylobacteriosis is another diarrheal illness caused by Campylobacter bacteria. This is the most common diarrheal illness in the US. Both E. Coli and Campylobacteriosis lead to vomiting, nausea, and bloody diarrhea.

The bacteria spread through contaminated water or fecal-oral interactions. If a person interacts with waste and doesn’t disinfect, they can infect themselves and whoever else with whom they come into contact.

Moreover, septic system failures can contaminate groundwater without anyone knowing. Consequently, diarrhea can be acquired through contaminated water, improper disinfection, and other avenues.

Methane and Sulfide Gas

Two of the gasses released by a septic system failure are methane and sulfide. Both of these gases are harmful to the environment and the people who come in contact with them. Methane is a greenhouse gas, so it captures heat and contributes to global warming. High concentrations of methane can displace oxygen, making it harder to breathe. Moreover, methane is flammable, so it can also cause a fire or explosion.

In contrast, sulfide gases, in particular hydrogen sulfide, are much more toxic than methane. Hydrogen sulfide can irritate the nose, throat, mouth, and skin. It can also significantly harm your central nervous and respiratory systems.

Mold Spores

Septic system failures also release mold spores, which can create two issues. Firstly, if people in the affected building suffer from respiratory problems, like asthma, the mold spores will exacerbate their condition. Secondly, mold spores can lead to mold growth in the damper areas of a building, such as the basement.

To avoid the health and other risks associated with a septic system failure, get in touch with us, at Altitude Septic, for fast septic system maintenance and repairs. We offer our septic system and tank repair, maintenance, cleaning, Line Rootering Eagle and installation services in Eagle, Colorado Springs, New Castle, and other places in Western Colorado.