A flood is a big problem for any homeowner, but it's especially problematic if you have a septic tank on your property. Your septic system can be damaged or even destroyed by the effects of flood waters, so if you live in an area that's prone to flooding, you need to be prepared. Here are three ways that flooding can affect your septic system.
It can weaken your tank
Septic tanks are made of concrete, and while concrete is strong, it can be damaged by prolonged exposure to floodwaters. This can happen for a couple different reasons. If the floodwaters have a high salt content, which can happen in coastal areas, the salt crystals can get into the surface of the concrete and weaken it. The water can also cause the steel frame inside the concrete to rust, which will in turn weaken the concrete. A weakened tank is a big problem, and not just because it won't hold your sewage anymore. If you walk across your backyard, the tank could collapse beneath you, and falling into a septic tank can kill you.
It oversaturates your drainfield
All of the toilets, sinks, and water-using appliances in your house drain into your septic tank. Any solid waste sinks to the bottom of the tank, and any liquid waste flows out of the tank and into the nearby soil. This soil is called the drainfield, and it's very important. The drainfield filters bacteria out of the water before the water absorbs back into the groundwater. If your drainfield is already completely saturated with floodwaters, the liquids that flow into your tank can't flow into the drainfield. The drainfield needs to dry out before you can use it again, which means that you can't flush your toilet or use your sinks until the floodwaters are completely gone. The soil may need to be allowed to dry out for a few months to repair the damage, but you may also need to replace your drainfield.
It can cause a sewage backup
Having a basement full of floodwater is bad enough, but for homeowners with septic tanks, water isn't the only thing that can flood their homes. When your drainfield is oversaturated by flood waters, the water that you put down your drains doesn't have anywhere to go, except for back into your house. This will lead to sewage overflowing back out of your drains, leading to a mess that is both smelly and expensive to clean up. To avoid this problem, you need to stop putting water down your drains until the floodwaters have receded.
If you experience any of these problems or have other issues with your septic tank, call a plumber from a company like Action Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning Inc right away.