Is Your Septic System Ready for a Downpour? A Homeowner’s Guide to Preventing Disaster

Posted on July 3, 2024

In the mid-1800s, after what must have been a particularly frigid winter, a French man grew tired of walking through the snow to use the bathroom. Using clay pipes and a concrete tank, he devised a system that would transport wastewater from his home into the holding tank he placed underground. His invention worked flawlessly.

The Frenchman’s revolutionary invention was quickly adopted around the world, including the US, where it’s still used in many areas. While the septic system has served us well, excessive rains and flooding, like the kind South Florida experienced this month, can overwhelm the system, potentially leading to sewage contamination and health hazards.

Here’s what you need to know about the dangers of excessive rain and your septic system, along with some key tips to follow:

  • Heavy rains can quickly saturate the ground, preventing the drainfield from properly absorbing treated wastewater and leading to backups in your plumbing or sewage surfacing near the tank. If your yard is flooded, stop using the septic system until the water levels recede.
  • Sewage backups into your home or surfacing near the septic system are clear indicators of system failure. If you notice either of the two, stop using the water immediately.
  • If your septic system relies on a pump, it may fail to work if the control panel is exposed to water or during a power outage. You should conserve water until the floodwaters recede and the pump is fully functioning.
  • Flushing your toilets sparingly and shutting the water off while brushing your teeth, shaving, or washing dishes will prevent your system from overloading.
  • Check the system when flood waters recede to ensure it’s working properly.
  • Most septic tanks aren’t damaged by the floodwaters since they’re completely covered below ground. But the debris associated with heavy rains – yard waste, clean-up materials, and sediment – can enter a tank and cause problems. 
  • Vehicles can damage drainfields and tanks, especially when the ground is wet. If you suspect your septic tank has been damaged, call a professional to inspect, service, and clean it.

While septic tanks continue to be a widely used solution for wastewater treatment, they require regular maintenance. Raider Rooter can help. We’ve been helping South Florida maintain and manage plumbing and sewer since 1978. Let us put our expertise to work for you. And if you’re after tips and tricks for frequent plumbing problems, consult our blog for thorough and helpful information.

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