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Can Heavy Rain Affect My Septic System?

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functioning sewage is one of our many necessities.

will heavy rain affect my septic system?

Without working plumbing, we can struggle to complete our daily routines and lose a key home comfort. 

When extreme weather patterns loom on weather forecasts, many homeowners ask, “Can heavy rain affect my septic system?” The short answer is yes. However, understanding how heavy rainfall can impact your septic tank can help you to avoid this frustrating issue.

septic system anatomy

Before getting into the nitty gritty of rainwater’s impact on your septic system, it’s crucial to understand the components that make up conventional septic systems. Knowing these components can help you avoid significant clogging and flooding during rainstorms.

  • Inlet Pipe: This is essentially the throat of your septic system. All of your drains filter into this pipe, which ushers the water to the underground components of the system.
  • Septic Tank: After filtering through the inlet pipe, untreated sewage (the liquids, also known as effluent) will run into the drain field while the solids turn into sludge and remain in the septic tank, which will need to be pumped out by sewage professionals approximately once every 3-5 years.
  • Drain Field: Finally, once the effluent has reached the drain field, it releases into the soil for biodegradation and purification through chambers or perforated pipe. Note that this is the component impacted most by rainfall.

Now that you understand how your septic system operates, it’s easier to comprehend how rainwater can complicate its efficacy.

how does rain negatively impact the septic system?

Rain primarily threatens the septic system in two ways: either through flooding or clogging caused by draining deficiencies during storms. 

Flood Water

Heavy rainfall can cause flooding and standing water on the ground surrounding your sewage tanks. When this water remains for too long without having the chance to evaporate, it can seep into the soil and merge with water entering the drain field. 

Since the drain field can only accommodate a certain level of water, excess rainwaters eliminate the ability for drain water to disperse. Thus, water could build up and pool into your yard, causing many other issues. 

Clogged Drainfield

Similar but slightly different from flooding, a clogged drain field is a possible side effect of heavy rainfall. Even if water doesn’t flood the area around your sewage, rainwater might clog the drain field. If this occurs, your septic tank overfills, causing problems with the drainage inside your home.

Both flooding and clogging are common side effects of heavy rains. Knowing how to prevent these issues saves you frustration.

how to tell if rain caused septic system flooding

While you might be Googling “can heavy rain affect my septic system,” assuming that rainwater is causing your problems, this is not always the case. Clogged pipes, tanks requiring pumping, and other plumbing issues can cause similar symptoms to a septic system overwhelmed by rainwater. As a result, it’s crucial to understand the signs and symptoms specific to heavy rainfall.

Some of the signs of septic system failure caused by heavy rainfall include: 

  • Problems occurring during or right after a major rainstorm
  • Sluggish drains or standing water leftover long after turning off faucets and showers
  • Toilets draining more slowly than usual
  • Strange noises like gurgling or slurping when using toilets and drains 
  • Flooding after continued use of inefficient or slow drains

While knowing these signs is essential, the only way to confirm your suspicions is to receive a thorough inspection from a certified septic system professional.

preventing rainwater from flooding your drainfield

Although it’s essential to address sewage problems as they emerge, there are a few ways you can prevent and mitigate these issues before they turn into catastrophes. Take preventive action when you learn about upcoming storms rather than simply preparing to call professionals for the clean-up work.

Ways to prevent septic overload during a storm include:

  • Maintaining healthy sewage by receiving regular pumping and maintenance for your septic systems
  • Reducing water consumption for the duration of the storm
  • Ensuring all products you flush down toilets and drains are septic safe and biodegradable
  • Parking your car away from the system
  • Removing any debris that might promote flooding or water build-up
  • Planting trees away from septic tanks to avoid roots interacting with septic water

While none of these tips will help you avoid septic issues during a storm, it’s crucial to do everything possible to prevent significant problems. Take timely action and avoid the costs of system repairs and replacements.

Treading Septic Systems After
Heavy Rains with Sprague's Backhoe

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