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Weather Emergencies

SEPTIC SYSTEM 101: Things to consider when extreme rain (or melting snow) hits

Whenever extreme rain hits an area many septic systems which are NOT IN FAILURE may seem like they are due to the ground being saturated. Please remember these simple things about your septic system and follow the suggestions listed below during this time.

#1. Your septic tank is always full of water.
– The average person uses 100 gallons of water a day. If you think about how much water you use running the dishwasher, taking a bath or shower, flushing the toilet, or running your washing machine, etc. it is easy to see how a 1000 gallon or 1500 gallon septic tank can fill up quickly. Even after your tank is pumped it doesn’t take it long to fill back up with waste water from the house.  Therefore, on a regular day, your septic tank is always full of water.

#2. Your septic tank SLOWLY drains to your lateral field
– Your lateral field is like a giant “sponge” that SLOWLY takes on water as it drains from your septic tank. The ground then either absorbs the water or it is evaporated into the air.

**PLEASE KEEP IN MIND when we receive excessive amounts of rain (or melting snow), the laterals of ANY septic system slow down in their ability to take on water from your septic tank. This DOES NOT MEAN your septic system is failing, it simply means that your “sponges” are wet and can’t take on water. Consider how a kitchen sponge acts…it can not absorb water if it is not dried out or squeezed to drain the water, AND if it is left in a kitchen sink full of water it can only take on so much water. The same is true with your lateral field. Until the weather allows for the ground to dry out, any water you use will either drain to your lateral field and create standing water in your yard, or it will back up into your house. (THINK ABOUT THIS: You can’t put 20 gallons of water into a 5 gallon bucket).

If you live on septic and excessive amounts of rain (or melting snow) hit the area, be mindful of your water usage. If you live in an area where there is flooding and you experience back-ups into your house, we can pump your septic tank (if we can gain access to it), but that will only give you temporary relief. The ground will need to dry out before the system can begin to respond appropriately. Therefore, think about how much water you are using as you wait once we have pumped your tank.

Even if you are not in an area of flooding, (and are NOT currently experiencing back-ups) please be careful of your water usage to AVOID back-ups. When the ground is THIS SATURATED, whatever water you use in the house will not empty from your tank to your lateral field as quickly as it does when the ground is dry.

Also, please do not jump to conclusions that your system is in failure when this much rain falls. Understand that your septic system is dependent on Mother Nature to absorb and evaporate water – something it can’t accomplish when it rains for many days or when an excessive amount of rain falls.