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How does weather affect your septic system? It doesn’t, does it? After all, your septic system lies buried, safe and secure from the ravages of the elements, right? Wrong. Extreme weather — in any season — can create serious problems for any septic system. This month we’ll take a look at how rainy and stormy weather can affect your septic system.

Septic system basics

Most septic system owners have a vague understanding of how their systems work. A quick review of the components and functions of your system will provide a clearer understanding of how weather affects it.

how a septic tank worksTank

Basic septic systems have two main parts: a septic tank and an absorption field. As the Environmental Protection Agency defines it, a septic tank is “a buried, water-tight container usually made of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene.” Tanks come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The breakdown of sewage begins in the tank. First, wastewater from the household flows into the tank through a drainage pipe. Then the tank holds the wastewater from the household long enough for the solids to settle to the bottom of the tank. During this process, oil and grease in the water float to the top and form a scum on the surface. Finally, the liquid part of the wastewater (effluent) exits the tank and drains into the absorption field.

Drainfieldseptic system

The second part of the system is the drainfield. The EPA gives a good definition of this element, also. “The drain field is a shallow, covered, excavation made in unsaturated soil.” This soil absorbs and percolates the wastewater, allowing harmful substances to be broken down naturally.

How does weather affect your septic system: Raining & Flooding

In many parts of the country, spring and summer mean dramatic increases in rainfall. Crops and plants require adequate rainfall. However, too much rain can be hazardous to septic systems. For example, drainfields saturated by heavy rain cannot adequately absorb household wastewater. As a result, heavy rain and flooding cause two types of problems.

Problems inside and out

Backup

With no adequate outlet for effluent, a septic tank quickly fills. In the meantime, wastewater continues to drain from the home. A saturated drainfield causes household wastewater to back up into the drainage pipe. This backup, containing contaminated water and sewage, continues to back up through the system into the toilet and drains in the home. If this happens, you need to call a professional immediately. Wastewater contains harmful pathogens so it requires a HAZMAT clean-up process.

 

Contamination 

how septic systems work

 

In addition to causing problems inside the home, heavy rain and saturated ground also wreak havoc on nearby water sources. Wastewater unable to soak into the ground flows to the lowest area. This often results in contamination of nearby wells and even sometimes local groundwater supply sources.

Prevention

The best cure for septic systems at risk from heavy rain or flooding lies in prevention. For example, take steps before the rains start to secure your system. How can you do that? Here’s what we recommend for starters:

  • Have your tank pumped regularly (yearly or bi-annually at the most).
  • Use high-efficiency appliances (toilets, showerheads, washing machines, dishwashers, etc).
  • Spread laundry chores over several days.
  • Only flush human waste and toilet paper.
  • Do not park on the drainfield.
  • Plant trees far enough from drainfield that roots will not interfere with the septic system.
  • Make sure any guttering leading from the drainfield is clear of debris.

For a detailed list of maintenance suggestions, visit the EPA website.

Conclusion

A well-working septic system provides many advantages to a homeowner. Be sure to get your system ready for the spring and summer storms. Call us today to set up a consultation to make sure you’re prepared.

Septic systems are often put on the back burner of a homeowner’s mind. However, these systems are the unsung heroes for people all over the continental U.S. as a vital part of every day life. When something starts to go wrong with the septic system, it can be hazardous to the health of you and your family if left to fester. This article will go over some of the most common septic system problems, causes and possible solutions.

Clogs and/or BackupsImage result for backed up sink

This is probably the most obvious sign that something is wrong with your septic system. The most common cause is that the tank hasn’t been pumped for quite some time. Without routine pumping, the solids in septic tanks will build up and can reduce the tanks holding capacity. Another reason they might back up is improper disposal of household products. These products include: grease, gauze, diapers, excessive toilet paper, paper towels, feminine products, the list goes on.

Another reason for a backup is that your septic tank filters are clogged. The tank filters protect your drain field, keeping it from being overloaded with solids. Thankfully, all you have to do is pull out the filter and hose it off with your garden hose. Keep an eye out for any problems with the filter, or have a professional come and clean the filter. In order to avoid a clogged or backed up system, make sure to watch what substances are going down the pipes. Make sure you have your septic tank pumped regularly to keep it in pristine condition.

Tree Roots

Image result for tree with rootsThis is another common problem with septic tanks, especially as they are not routinely maintained. Tree roots are naturally attracted to the moist, nutrient dense waste that is held in the septic tanks and lines. Tree roots will slowly work their way around the tank and lines, looking for leaking fissures or holes. Once they find these weak spots, they creep into the system and expand the holes, which create problems, like backups.

Reputable plumbers will take into account the locations of trees on your property when installing your septic system. However, tree roots can make their way far from its main body. There are chemicals that you can flush or wash down your drains that will help keep roots away from your septic system. There are also root barriers, made from plastic or other materials, that are buried around the septic system to keep roots from reaching it. The best way to make sure that roots to infiltrate your septic system is with routine “check-ups” and maintenance.

Digging Damage

Image result for digging
One thing that homeowners might forget when doing a home project, is to locate their septic tank and drain field. If you are doing a home improvement project in your yard, and you have a septic system, you don’t want to start digging until you know the locations of the lines and tank. Homeowners can do this easily enough by calling in a locate technician. However, even with locates, accidents still happen sometimes, causing damage to your septic system. If you plan on doing any excavating soon, ask your plumbers to mark the locations as best they can, or call and have a locator do it for you.

Sewer Smells in the Home

Image result for sewer smellAnother obvious sign that there is a problem with your septic system is a distinct sewage smell lingering in your home. This problem typically is an indicator that there is a clog in the septic system ventilation. The best thing to do when you notice this is call and have your plumber come clean out the vent. This will help avoid the gas buildup in your home.

Conclusion

So, if you notice a smelly aroma, backed up sewage in your home, slow draining or you’re worried your tree roots might cause problems in your future, call us today so we can come make sure your septic system is set up for success!

One of the unsung, often forgotten heroes of every home is the plumbing. Whether it’s a sewer system or a septic tank system, the plumbing in your house is a vital part of your everyday life. From washing dishes, to bathing children and pets, to doing the laundry, all these things require a pristine  plumbing system.

plumbing problemsHow do you know when something just isn’t quite right with your plumbing system?

What are some signs to look for that indicate something might be wrong?

In this article, we will talk about some common problems with your septic system, what might be causing them and what needs to be done to fix them.

However, before we get into the article remember this: regular septic tank cleanings will go a long way in preserving and maintaining your system.

Check your lawnpooling in septic field

Pooling

Probably the most obvious sign that your septic tank needs attention is pooling water. When you see pools of water on the lawn around the septic system drain field, its very possible that your septic tank is overflowing. When septic tanks get full, solid waste could be clogging drain fields pipe system, forcing the fluid to the top of the ground. This is a clear indicator that your septic tank needs to be pumped.

septic drain field growth

Lush grass

In contrast to the flooded lawn, an uncharacteristically healthy lawn is also a sign for concern. Just because there is a septic tank beneath part of your lawn, doesn’t mean that there should be any color difference from the rest of your lawn. If the grass atop your septic tank is lush and vibrant green, this could mean that your septic system is leaking water somehow. It is either full or damaged. Regardless of the cause, you need to call in the professionals.

 

Indoor plumbing signalsslow water drainage

Slow drains

If you’ve noticed that the drains in your home have slowed considerably, this could be a clear sign that your septic tank is full. If you’ve done all the septic-tank-friendly DIY fixes to help unclog your system, then it is time to call in a professional to come and assess the situation, and most likely drain your septic tank. It might sound redundant, but the solution to most septic tank issues is to have it pumped.

septic backupOdor

A clear indication that your septic tank needs your attention is, if you start to notice an unpleasant but unmistakable odor. As mentioned before, your septic tank collects all the dirty water that you expel from your house, like baths, laundry, dishes and your toilet. All that black water is a great cocktail for a scent that nobody wants to smell. This is a great time to have someone come out and empty your septic tank before the problem gets worse.

Sewage backupseptic backup in basement

Probably the most dramatic indication of a problem is sewer backup. This is also the most dangerous symptom that your septic tank needs attention. This is the ultimate cry for help from your septic tank. When the sewage backs up it will be in your lowest drains first, then the rest of them if its not dealt with soon. If this happens to you, don’t try to clean it by yourself! This problem is a hazardous waste issue needs to be dealt with immediately by professionals with the right hazard-safe equipment.

septic problemsConclusion

Don’t let a needy septic tank get in the way of your daily life.  The best way to make sure none of these things happen to you is to have your septic tank cleaned regularly. Call us today to schedule an appointment so one of our technicians can come make sure your septic tank is getting enough attention.