Septic System Mistakes To Avoid

How Does Flooding Affect Your Home's Septic System?

by Melinda Crawford

Mother nature has a way of causing incredible amounts of damage when you least expect it. Despite being safely buried below ground, your septic tank and other components are far from immune to flooding. If you live in an area that suffers from frequent (or even occasional) flooding, it's essential to understand how these events can impact your home's wastewater system.

Below you'll find some practical tips to recognize a flooded septic system and determine if you should take action. Keep reading to learn what you should do following any severe rain event.

Recognizing the Signs of Danger

If your property is entirely underwater, then it's likely that your septic system may require some attention. While this should go without saying, there are more subtle situations where rainwater can impact its operation. In particular, you should be aware of any standing water on your property, especially standing water that may be close to your drain field or septic tank.

Under normal conditions, your septic tank drain field relies on soil "percolation" to filter effluent before it flows back into the groundwater. Percolation refers to the ease at which water can move through the soil. When soil pools on the surface and remains there for some time, it means that the ground is likely saturated and may have difficulty dealing with effluent from your tank.

You should also be aware of flooding near the septic tank itself and any ground erosion from rainwater runoff. Severe flooding can reduce the amount of soil above your drain field, expose plumbing, or even damage your septic tank. In some cases, flood water can back up into the septic tank from pipes in the drain field.

The Consequences of a Flooded Septic System

If the soil near your drain field becomes completely saturated, effluent will be unable to drain away from the system. This situation can cause wastewater to back up into the septic and, eventually, into your home. If you suspect a flooded drain field, reduce your water usage as much as possible. You may need to stop using your home's plumbing entirely if you notice large volumes of standing water.

Flood water backing up into your septic tank can also cause sediment or other debris to enter the tank or your septic plumbing. In either case, you may experience clogs or wastewater flowing back into your home.

Actions to Take After a Flood

Always allow your property to dry thoroughly following a significant flood event. Minimize your water usage as much as possible during this process. Once your drain field is no longer saturated, you should contact a professional to pump your septic tank and evaluate your entire system. You may also want to perform a percolation test to ensure that the drain field can adequately drain effluent.

Ignoring the consequences of a flooded septic system can result in costly damage. Always have your septic tank and field inspected anytime you spot significant amounts of standing water.