Several things can cause your septic tank to flood, including heavy rainfall. At Affordable Septic Services, we’re happy to perform septic tank maintenance when this happens in Lawrenceville, but there are a few ways you can help your tank when storms rage outside. A few preventative measures can mean the difference between needing to call professionals like us and a septic tank conducting business as usual.
Your septic tank has three main parts: an inlet pipe, which delivers waste from your house to the tank; the tank, 2-chamber, underground tank which collects and separates waste into sludge, scum and effluent (liquid); and a drain field, a pipe that slowly releases effluent back into the soil.
When the soil around the drain field is saturated, effluent from the septic tank can’t be released, meaning the septic tank is holding and storing more liquid than normal. A flooded tank can mimic a clogged pipe, so it can be difficult to diagnose the issue.
Because the solution to a flooded tank differs from the treatment for a clogged one, it’s critical to determine the cause of your tank’s problem. If your septic tank challenges began during or shortly after heavy rainfall, the tank may be flooded. You can check by opening the tank cover and visually inspecting it. You can also use a septic safe chemical drain opener or a plumbing snake to see if either of those things resolves the issue. If so, it’s safe to assume your problem was a clog and not to a flooded tank.
If you have a flooded tank, pumping the tank isn’t a solution if the flooding is due to rainfall. If the soil is still saturated and the tank is pumped, it won’t take long for the tank to refill with water. Even worse, pumping a flooded septic tank can cause greater damage to the tank as pumping creates a pressure vacuum.
So, what can you do when your tank floods due to heavy rainfall?
If your tank isn’t draining, don’t put more into it. This means dramatically limiting water use both inside and outside the house. Don’t water the vegetable garden when your tank is flooded if the water may drain into your drain field. Skip that shower. Don’t run the dishwasher, and take laundry to the laundromat for a few days or delay doing it. The goal is to keep water from going into the drain field until the field dries.
If, after a few days of little to no rainfall, the septic tank still isn’t working correctly, it’s time to call the septic service professionals for a diagnosis and to treat the problem. Going for long periods without a working septic system can be a health hazard.