This article will answer the question, “What happens to septic tanks during heavy rain?” Septic tanks are an essential component of many homes’ waste management systems. This is particularly true in areas where access to a public sewer system is not available. These systems consist of a septic tank, where waste water is decomposed by anaerobic bacteria, and a drain field, where the effluent is vigorously filtered and absorbed into the soil.
What Happens To Septic Tanks During Heavy Rain: Retention Time
It’s important to properly maintain your septic system and to be aware of the potential for problems during heavy rain events. In order to do so, it’s helpful to understand the retention period of a septic tank and how a flooded drain field can affect its performance. The retention period of a septic tank refers to the amount of time that waste water is retained in the tank for decomposition. Traditional septic systems typically have a retention period of 48 to 72 hours. Once the retention period is over, the effluent is discharged from the tank into the drain field. It then undergoes further filtration and treatment. The soil in the drain field acts as a natural filter, removing contaminants and pathogens from the effluent before it seeps into the ground.
However, heavy rain can present problems for traditional septic systems. During a heavy rain event, the soil in the drain field can become saturated, preventing the effluent from being properly filtered and absorbed. This can cause waste water to back up into the house or overflow into the surrounding area, potentially contaminating nearby water sources and posing a risk to public health.
Tell-tale Signs Of A Flooded Drain Field
There are several signs that your drain field may be flooded during a heavy rain event:
- Unpleasant Sewage odors in or around your septic system or home.
- Standing water in or around your septic system.
- Slow drains.
- Gurgling sounds in your toilet.
- Wet or marshy areas around your septic system.
If you suspect that your drain field is flooded during a heavy rain event, call a professional for assistance. They can assess the situation and determine the best course of action to prevent further damage to your septic system.
How Do I Prevent My Tank From Flooding?
There are several steps you can take to prevent your septic tank from flooding during heavy rain events:
- Avoid flushing non-biodegradable or non-septic safe materials, such as feminine hygiene products, wipes, and grease, down the drain.
- Make sure that rainwater is directed away from the drain field to prevent it from becoming saturated.
- The weight of vehicles can compress the soil in the drain field, causing it to become more prone to flooding. Avoid driving or parking over the drain field.
- Limit your water usage as much as possible to reduce the risk of flooding.
- Water-saving devices, such as low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators help reduce the amount of water used in your home.
- Use low-flow toilets to help reduce the amount of waste water going into the septic tank.
- Leaks in pipes or fixtures can significantly increase the amount of water going into the septic tank. If you suspect a leak, it’s important to have it repaired as soon as possible.
- Reduce the amount of water used for laundry at home, by using a front-loading washing machine. It uses less water than a top-loading machine. Wash full loads of laundry instead of multiple smaller loads. You can also consider using a laundry detergent that is specifically designed for low-water washing.
- Use a sealant or other appropriate material to seal any openings or cracks in the septic system. Make sure that all inspection points, such as the manhole cover and other access points, are properly sealed.
- Switch off the septic sump pump. Ensure that all electrical connections in the septic system are properly waterproofed to protect the wiring from damage and to avoid the risk of electric shock.
What happens to septic tanks during heavy rain: Baffle Tees
Baffle tees are a key component of a septic system. They help prevent sewage from flowing back into the home thus ensuring that the tank operates efficiently. During the rainy season, it’s especially important to check your baffle tees to make sure they are in good working order. If they are clogged with debris or not installed correctly, they may not be able to perform their intended function, which can cause problems with the septic system.
To check your baffle tees, you can open the manhole cover and visually inspect them. If you see any debris or other issues, it’s important to have them cleaned or repaired as needed to help ensure that your septic system is functioning properly. If you are unsure of how to check or maintain your baffle tees, it is recommended to contact a professional for assistance.
What happens to septic tanks during heavy rain: Pumping
If the weather forecast is warning of a looming storm or if the ground is already saturated due to heavy rain, it’s important to avoid pumping your septic tank to prevent the risk of the tank “popping out” of the ground. When the soil is saturated, hydrostatic pressure can build up in the soil around the tank. This can cause the tank to float to the surface. Pumping a septic tank whilst the soil is saturated leads to buoyancy, which in turn causes the septic tank to pop out of the ground.
If the tank pops out of the ground, it can cause serious damage to the system. In some cases, the septic tank needs to be completely replaced. This also results in sewage leaking into the environment. To avoid these problems, it’s important to wait until the ground has had a chance to dry out before pumping your septic tank. If you are unsure of when it is safe to pump your tank, it is recommended to contact a professional for advice.
Proper maintenance of your septic system is essential for preventing problems during heavy rain events. In conclusion, heavy rain can cause problems for traditional septic systems by saturating the soil in the drain field, preventing the effluent from being properly filtered and absorbed. This can cause sewage to leak into the environment.