The rains came down and the turds came up. Yuck.
Heavy rains and flooding can cause major problems with septic systems. Human exposure to wastewater can lead to disease transmission, so it’s important to take precautions to prevent possible sewage contamination.
Check your system to see if it is backed up or allowing sewage to surface. If your area is affected by flooding from excessive rains, be prepared by taking some of these steps from the North Carolina Division of Public Health Environmental Health Section.
- Wastewater systems may not work until floodwaters recede and the water table drops below the septic tank and drainfield trenches. The septic system will not function if your yard is flooded and should not be used.
- Do NOT continue to use water if sewage backs up into the house or if water or sewage surfacing near the septic system is visible – raw sewage is a public health problem and can cause disease.
- Remove and discard household goods that become contaminated with sewage and cannot be disinfected, such as rugs, wall coverings and drywall. Wear rubber boots and waterproof gloves when cleaning up sewage.
- If a wastewater system depends on a pump, it will not operate properly if the system controls were flooded or when the power is out. Residents should use extreme water conservation practices until flood waters recede and the pump is confirmed to be working properly after power is restored.
- Flush toilets only when necessary, take sponge baths and do not run water while brushing teeth, shaving, or dish-cleaning.
- When power to the system is restored and flood waters recede, the pump system’s high-water alarm may sound for a period of time but should eventually go off. If the alarm stay on, or if the system does not appear to be working properly in some other way, contact the system operator, installer or county health department. Repairs may be necessary prior to returning to normal water use. Residents may also need the services of an electrician if the sewage system’s electrical control panel was submerged or if the service connection sustained any physical damage.
- A flood does not damage most septic tanks, since they are below ground and completely covered. However, septic tanks or pump chambers can become filled with debris. Try to reduce the amount of debris such as yard waste, cleanup materials and sediment that may enter the septic tank and plumbing systems during and after the storm.
- Debris removal activities may damage a septic system. Vehicles can crush drainfields, tanks, and distribution boxes, especially when the soil is saturated. If you suspect your septic tank has been damaged, call a professional to inspect, service and clean it, and contact the health department if the system needs to be repaired.
Signs of a crappy septic system:
- Wastewater backing up into household drains.
- Bright green, spongy grass on the drainfield, especially during dry weather.
- Pooling water or muddy soil around your septic system or in your basement.
- A strong odor around the septic tank and drainfield.