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Extreme weather can cause flooding in places that rarely experience it. When you have a septic system, you should know what to do in case of a flood so you and your family stay safe, since a flood can cause your system to work differently or become damaged. Here are some things to know about floods and your septic system.
Water May Not Drain From Your House During A Flood
When the ground is saturated with water in the drainfield, water can't leave the septic tank, so it just builds up. If your tank is nearly full before the flood, the tank could even back up into your house and contaminate your basement or bathtub with sewage. If your tank has plenty of space in it, water may drain slowly or it may drain for a few days before the tank fills up.
Therefore, an important step to take when your septic field is flooded is to conserve water. You may want to avoid sending water and waste from the toilet down the drains, or you may want to limit it depending on how long it's been since your tank was pumped out last. It's not a good idea to use the system as usual and then have it pumped out when the ground is still saturated. Depending on the size and type of tank you have, it could float out of place and be damaged if you empty it and the ground is saturated with water.
Have Your System Inspected After The Water Level Drops
Stay away from the septic tank when it is flooded. If the tank has been damaged or if the lid has shifted out of place, you don't want to walk over the tank and have it collapse on you. Also, walking on wet soil compacts it, and that is something you want to avoid in the area of the drainfield. It's best to stay away from the area until the soil dries out and then have the septic system inspected and cleaned.
A flood may not do any structural damage to your tank, but it could fill with silt that blocks parts in the tank and pipes in the field. The silt should be cleaned so it doesn't cause blocks and ongoing problems with the tank and the field. It may be necessary to pump the tank after a flood even if it isn't full, just to make sure all the silt is removed from the system. If you also have a water well, don't drink the water until it has been inspected. If sewage leaked from the septic system because of the flood, your well water could be contaminated.
Once the floodwaters recede and your tank has been serviced and is in good working order again, be sure to watch the way your system performs in the coming weeks. If you smell a sewer odor or notice the grass above the drainfield is greener and thicker than the rest of your lawn, then your system may have damage that wasn't detected initially. Call septic system services if there are signs of potential problems so they can be taken care of before you have to deal with clogged drains or sewage spilling in the yard.