If you have a septic tank, mistakes you make in the aftermath of a flood can cause serious problems for both you and your septic system. Here are three things that you should never do following a flood.
Continuing to flush the toilets
When your septic tank is working properly, the wastewater from your home drains into the septic tank in your backyard. Solid waste settles to the bottom of the tank, and liquid waste flows out into your drain field for further processing. When your backyard is flooded, this process cannot happen. This is because floodwaters saturate your drain field and fill your septic tank, so any wastewater that your household produces will have nowhere to go.
When you flush your toilet after a flood, the waste will travel to the septic tank, but since the septic tank and drain field are both completely flooded, the waste will come bubbling back up your drains. To avoid this mess, don't use your toilets at all until the floodwaters have receded and a plumber has told you that your septic tank is safe to use. You should also avoid using sinks, tubs, or other drains; this graywater is less disgusting than your toilet water, but you still don't want to backing up in your basement or into other household drains.
Pumping the tank too soon after a flood
If your septic tank is flooded, it may seem like common sense to get it pumped immediately so that you can start using your toilets and sinks as soon as possible. While your septic tank will need to be pumped when the flood waters recede, getting the tank pumped too soon is a very big mistake.
The worst problem associated with getting your tank pumped before the flood waters have completely receded is that the empty tank may float out of the flooded ground. As the tank floats up, the pipes that connect it to your home or your drain field may be damaged or broken. If this happens, your entire system will be completely useless until a technician is able to replace the pipes and the tank.
Another problem that may occur if you pump the tank too early is that mud and additional flood waters may immediately flow back into your tank; this won't damage your tank, but it is a waste of time and money, so just wait to have the tank pumped. Once the floodwaters have receded, you can get your tank pumped without worrying that it will float out of the ground or that it will refill with floodwater.
Walking across the drain field when the ground is wet
Under normal conditions, walking across your drain field will not damage it, but when the ground is wet and soggy after a flood, the weight of your feet may compress the soil. If your feet sink into the soil and leave visible footprints, you have compressed the soil and may have damaged your drain field.
This may seem like it would be insignificant, but compressed soil is actually a very big deal for your septic system. When the soil is compacted, it can't absorb and treat wastewater as it should. Since a network of pipes runs through the drain field, you can't just dig up the soil to make it loose again. The only way to fix a compacted drain field is to install a new one. To avoid having to do this, don't walk above your drain field until the soil is completely dry and your feet do not sink in at all.
If your area recently flooded, avoid using your toilets, pumping your septic tank, or walking across your drain fields, as these activities may lead to sewage backups or damage to your septic system. After a flood, make sure to contact a plumber for guidance as to when you can resume these activities. Contact a company like SOS Septic Inc for more information.Share
3 November 2015
Hello, my name is Jon. After buying my home, I was uncertain about how to maintain the septic system. I called a septic service company to come inspect the tank and lines to further discuss the required maintenance and repair needs of the system. After the inspection, the septic company informed me that the tank was full and needed to be pumped out. Worn components were in need of replacement as well. As a result of my diligence, I was able to avoid system failure and protect my septic system from damage. I hope to use this site to help others avoid a similar septic emergency. Thank you.