Flooding in many areas is occurring with greater intensity and quite frequently, which presents various concerns and costs along with the destruction it brings. One of these is damage to the home septic systems and the inability to use them during or after the flood and subsequent sewage contamination of that flooded area.
Private septic system owners know they are responsible for the care and maintenance of their wastewater treatment plants.
Impact of Flooding due to a Hurricane on the Septic Systems
The sheer force of the floodwaters creates the most obvious hurricane damage while the buildings, drain fields, and vehicles are carried downstream with the massive volumes of water, land, and roadways washed away by violent erosion.
Septic tanks and those networks of leaching field pipes are regularly installed relatively close to the surface; anywhere from two to four feet below the grade is typical.
Hence, the septic systems are vulnerable to floodwater erosion, which can break the system components and release untreated sewage and effluent.
In extreme cases, the septic tanks and effluent distribution pipes can be torn completely out of the ground.
At times, flooding occurs more slowly and implacably, and the damage arises more subtly. Even when not as dramatic as the tearing up of the septic components, floodwater can wash away the soil covering the tank and the drain pipe network because tank covers pop off and short out electric components such as the pumps or filtering systems. Soil silt and debris may enter system components, clogging pipes and inlet and outlet ports.
Flooding in populated areas also distributes a variety of toxic agents throughout the flood zone. Cleaning agents, gasoline, oil, pesticides, solvents, paints, and other chemicals become waterborne while floodwater infiltrates buildings and vehicles.
While these chemicals enter the septic tanks, they harm the beneficial bacteria in the tank, which work to break down the sewage, meaning that the effluent leaving the tank towards the leaching field is not effectively treated.
The Saturated Septic Drain Field
The leaching field is usually unsaturated, allowing the tank effluent to flow. The soil in the leaching field may become saturated with floodwater; effluent has nowhere to go. That is a bit like while the parking lot is full and the car is left circling, they cannot park anywhere. It means the tank cannot release effluent efficiently, which starts to overfill. You may notice drains and toilets are moving slowly in the house.
Hurricane has the impact of raising the water table and decreasing vertical separation. This also creates anaerobic conditions in the soil as the stagnant floodwater prevents oxygen from reaching the soil. Another result of flooding; the septic system was designed and installed to build a suitable vertical separation between the water table and the leaching field so that the soil bacteria can further treat the effluent before reaching and mixing up the groundwater.
Helpful Tips to Combat Septic Tank & Drain Field Flooding.
There are numerous ways in which hurricane negatively impacts the septic system. Fortunately, steps can be taken before, during, and after the flooding event to minimize the damage and evaluate the actions needed to bring this system back to full function.
Things to do with the Septic System after a Flood
Once floodwaters have receded, then there are several things that homeowners should remember:
- Wait to consume the well water until it is tested. Contact the health department for immediate action.
- Only use the sewage system once the water in the soil absorption field is slightly lower than the water level near the house.
- Have the septic tank inspection professionally and serviced if you suspect any damage. Signs of the damage include settling or the inability to accept the water. Most of the septic tanks may not be damaged by hurricanes since they are below the ground and are completely covered. However, the septic pumps or tanks can fill with silt and debris, so a new system has to be installed.
- The trained specialists should clean up or repair the septic tanks because tanks may contain dangerous gases. Reach out to your nearest health department for the list of septic system contractors who work in your locality.
- Clean and disinfect the floor if the sewage has backed into the basement. To infect the area thoroughly, use the chlorine solution of half the cup of chlorine bleach for each gallon of water.
- Pump the septic system as quickly as possible after the flood. Make sure to pump both tanks.
- Refrain from compacting the soil absorption field by the driving or operating equipment in the area. Saturated soil is specifically susceptible to compaction, which can reduce the soil absorption ability of the field to treat the wastewater and lead to system failure.
- Examine all the electrical connections for damage before restoring the electricity.
- Ensure that the septic tank’s manhole cover is safe and that inspection ports have been damaged or blocked.
- Check the vegetation over the septic tank and soil absorption field. Repair the erosion damage and sod reseed areas to provide the turf grass cover.
Do not attempt to fix Septic Tank issues. Call Professionals
Contact the health department for additional advice or assistance. You can visit the Crews Environmental website for more information on the onsite or decentralized wastewater.
The Septic tank system has a major role in the entire sinking system of the property. So you have to take care of it, and regular maintenance is necessary. Crews Environmental is here to help you with the septic system. You can contact us directly or fix an appointment with our experts.