Ever heard of a flooded septic system when it rains?
Whether you’ve heard it or not the term “flood” doesn’t paint a good picture at all. Homes with septic waste treatment systems have a particular challenge with heavy rains.
This mostly involves the septic tanks.
Most of what we’ll be discussing in this article involves septic tank problems associated with rainfall. More importantly, we’ll be focusing on how best to deal with such problems.
Light to moderate rains will normally pose zero issues to septic tanks. For heavy rains, the situation is much different.
How Does Rain Affect A Septic Tank?
Can rain affect a septic system? Yes.
When heavy rainfalls frequently, it leads to a situation where the soil around the drain field is oversaturated.
To fully understand how rain affects a septic tank, you’ll need to know the relationship between the septic tank and drain field.
Both of these key components are part of the septic system and function interdependently. As wastewater enters the septic tank through the inlet pipe, it gradually gets separated into three phases; the scum, effluent, and sludge layers.
The effluent layer, also known as greywater consists of a semi-clear liquid that is rich in nitrates and bacteria. This effluent will need to be further processed outside the tank.
This is where the drain field comes into play. It’s porous and aids infiltration, thus making it safe for the effluent to rejoin groundwater.
After heavy rainfall, the absorption capacity of the drain field is significantly reduced. Due to excessive water in the soil, effluent coming into the drain field from the septic tank can’t be absorbed. The result is an accumulation of water also known as flooding in the tank.
Flooding is a serious issue that needs to be quickly addressed to ensure the septic system isn’t overwhelmed. So, how do you go about resolving such a problem?
Luckily we are here to help.
Septic Tank Systems in Heavy Rains: Problems Posed
Based on the explanations provided above, you’ll need to be extra careful when it rains heavily as two main problems may emerge.
Problems include contamination and backup.
Merely stating these won’t do justice to our discussion. As such, a further look at both is provided as follows;
Before septic systems are installed, consideration is made for nearby water sources. Recall that we made mention of the saturated drain field and soils due to heavy rainfall.
When this happens, some effluent flows with rainwater to lower areas. Such areas are mostly water bodies such as wells and ponds or rivers.
This contamination greatly increases health risks. Drinking water is likely to get polluted which could lead to severe illnesses.
Backups are common with septic systems when there’s heavy rainfall.
With nowhere for the effluent to go, it returns to the septic tank. This situation means your septic tank gets filled up quickly. This backup goes all the way to your drainage systems and into sinks, baths, and toilets.
Now, for most people, the “easiest” way out will be to have their tanks pumped.
In reality, pumping a flooded tank is only a temporary solution and won’t do much to solve the problem of a saturated septic field bed in heavy rain.
Knowing When A Septic Tank Is Flooded
So far, we’ve seen that heavy rains do result in flooded septic tanks.
While this is true, there’s no way of telling if a septic tank is flooded if you have no idea the signs to look out for. Luckily, the guide provided here should help you detect the problem early enough.
When puddles frequently reappear after a heavy storm, then chances are that your septic tank is flooded. Septic tank odors during heavy downpours are additional signs of a flooded system. One of the surest ways of identifying a flooded septic tank is by looking out for slow draining signs.
You may also experience poor toilet flushes as well as backups or overflow especially for drains and toilets at lower ground levels. These are sufficient signs that point to a flooded septic tank.
Immediate action must be taken to contain the situation.
Finding A Remedy To Septic Tank Flooding With Rainwater
There are multiple actions to take when it comes to containing a septic tank full of water when it rains.
The first step includes watching or limiting the volume of water that gets into the system during this time.
Limiting the volume of water entering the septic tank includes rerouting roof drainages connected to the septic system. If your septic tank has a transfer pump installed, it should be shut off too.
We recommend the use of high-efficiency appliances such as showerheads, toilets, dishwashers, washing machines, and so on. Most of the other actions to take are more preventive and should forestall future problems.
These include calling for inspection and pumping of your tank when necessary. You will also need to know the position of your septic tank. The reasons are obvious; to avoid parking or driving heavy equipment or vehicles over it.
Bio-degradable cleaners are most efficient for your septic tank. It prevents complications when flooding occurs.
Digging around the septic tank should be prohibited especially when flooded. Trees shouldn’t be planted close to the tank to prevent cracks caused by roots.
You’ll need to pay attention to the toiletries used. Ensure they’re all made of bio-degradable material.
After heavy rains, it’s necessary to inspect your drain field. Some heavy storms may end up damaging your drain field. In this case, a new drain field will need to be installed.
Before making any major decisions, consider speaking to a qualified and experienced septic technician.
Such technicians offer the best advice that safeguards your waste treatment system. It’s best to adopt the preventive approach such as those mentioned earlier.
That way, the chances of having a flooded septic tank is limited.
Several septic tank problems arise when it rains. We’ve seen some of the most common and how to respond. Your response should always be cleared by a qualified technician.
After heavy rains, consider calling for an inspection of your septic tank to discover any underlying issues resulting from damage to the system. Efficient water conservation practices are among the best strategies to adopt.