Will Heavy Rain Or Snow Affect Your Home’s Septic System?

For the most part, living with a septic system is no different than living with a municipal sewer hookup. While septic systems require periodic maintenance, they're typically long-lasting and trouble-free if you keep up with pumping the tank. However, there are certain situations where you may need to be more aware of the potential for issues with your system. 

If you live in an area that frequently sees heavy snowfall or wet summers, then snowmelt or heavy rain can potentially create a problem for your system. Understanding why this occurs and what you can do about it can help extend the life of your system and potentially prevent some messy failures.

How Does Water Get Into Your Septic System?

While your septic tank is a sealed vessel containing waste and effluent, your drainfield intentionally contains open pipes called drain tiles. These drain tiles allow liquid waste from the tank to flow into the field, where it can slowly filter through the drain media and soil. When working correctly, this process is a surprisingly efficient and effective method for dealing with wastewater.

Because your drainfield must be able to accept and drain large amounts of wastewater, septic tank maintenance is primarily about protecting the lines in this field. Solid waste or grease can clog the drain tiles, preventing them from allowing effluent to enter the field. If the lines become sufficiently clogged, waste will flow back into the system and your home.

Extremely heavy rains or snowmelt can saturate the drainfield, stopping the soil around the drain tiles from accepting more waste. If the ground is wet enough, the system's overall efficiency will drop, at least temporarily. This situation can result in numerous problems, including sewage backing up into the system and your home.

Can You Prevent Problems From Saturated Drainfields?

The bad news is that genuine flooding will often lead to unavoidable problems. Fortunately, you can take steps to minimize the likelihood that less severe rain and snow will stop your system from working. The most important thing you can do is follow the recommended guidelines for inspecting and pumping your septic tank.

Pumping your tank controls the grease and solid levels inside, reducing the chances of non-liquid waste entering the drainfield. As a result, your drain tiles will remain as clear as possible, and the drainfield will be less likely to develop harmful colonies of anaerobic bacteria. Keeping the drainfield operating at maximum efficiency will minimize the odds of heavy rainfall causing problems with your system.

While you shouldn't pump your tank during floods or heavy rains, preparing for the rainy season by scheduling an early inspection and pump-out can be a good idea. Staying on top of this crucial maintenance task will help ensure that your septic system is as resilient as possible against whatever the weather may bring.

Contact a local septic company, such as Chamberlain Septic and Sewer, to learn more.