Can Rain Affect My Septic Tank? Here's What You Should Know

Can Rain Affect My Septic Tank? Here’s What You Should Know

July 26, 2021

With fall approaching, we’re once again entering a time where many people around the country experience heavy rains. If you rely on a septic tank rather than a municipal sewer system, you might be wondering whether heavy rain can affect the operation of your septic tank and your system overall.

It is indeed common to have a backup in the septic system after or during heavy rainfalls. Particularly heavy rain can flood the ground in the drain field, resulting in a level of saturation that makes it difficult or even impossible for water to flow out of the system. Eventually that water, left with no other option, backs up into your home’s drains and toilets.

So, how do heavy rains affect sewer systems, and what can you do to minimize the potential risk you face? Here are some steps you can take.

Before the storm begins

If you know there’s a heavy rainfall on the way, there are some steps you can take ahead of time to mitigate your risk.

First, make sure your septic system is in good condition. Proper ongoing maintenance is crucial. A poorly maintained septic system is more likely to experience backups during weather events, so make it a point to have your system serviced once a year, and to have your tank pumped at appropriate intervals.

Make sure water runoff is directed away from the drain field, so you can prevent the soil in the area from getting saturated. Get debris out of your gutters and send downspouts away from the drain field. Never drive heavy vehicles on top of the drain field, or place heavy equipment on top. Only plant grass on the drain field—never any shrubs, trees or other deep-rooting vegetation.

During the storm

There’s not much you can do during a storm, other than pay attention. If you see surface water pooling in the drain field, or start to see drains in your home not draining quickly, these are signs of stress to your septic system. You might even start to see water backing up. If it’s possible, reduce the water you send down the drains until the drain field can dry out.

Spend the storm conserving water around your home to minimize stress on the system. Definitely don’t do laundry, and try not to run your dishwasher.

After the storm

If you believe the septic system sustained some damage, or notice the water over the drain field isn’t going back down beneath the surface after the rain stops, you should get a professional out to your property to inspect the system and provide any appropriate service or maintenance. There’s a possibility silt or debris could have gotten into the tank, in which case you’ll need to get the system pumped as soon as possible, even if you already had the tank pumped recently.

Don’t open up the tank until the water recedes and the area around the drain field has dried out a bit.

For more information about how rain can affect your septic system, and tips for managing septic system maintenance and saturation surrounding heavy rains, contact us at Thornton Brothers Sewer Service today.

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