What Do I Do With My Septic System After a Flood?

Do not pump your flooded septic tank in flooded or saturated drainfield conditions because, at the very least, this would only be a temporary solution.  In the worst case scenario, the pumping would cause the tank to dry and float out of the ground which would damage the inlet and outlet pipes.  The only real solution is to plug all of the drains and drastically reduce the house’s water usage.

Small businesses are allowed to use their septic system to dispose of wastewater, which contains chemicals, in addition to raw sewage.  It is important to take extra precautions if your septic system, which receives chemicals, is behind a drainfield and/or a basement because these areas, when combined with septic material, could cause dangerous skin, eye, and/or inhalation contact.  The chemicals that are found in the water will determine the proper course of action for the cleanup.

After a storm, there are a few pieces of advice for various homeowners, which include:

  • Do not drink the well water until it has been thoroughly tested by a professional.
  • Nobody should use the sewage system until the water in the soil absorption field is lower than the water level around the house.
  • If the septic tank has probably been damaged, contact a professional to have the tank inspected, especially if the tank appears unable to accept water. Because septic tanks are often below ground, this helps to prevent damage by the storm. However, septic chambers and pump chambers are still susceptible to filling with salt and debris, which requires them to be professionally cleaned. A new septic system may have to be installed if silt is clogging the current absorption field.
  • Before restoring the electricity, make sure that all of the electrical connections have been thoroughly inspected for damages.
  • With the understanding that any and all septic tanks are likely to contain dangerous gases, these tanks should only be cleaned by trained professionals, who can be located by contacting your local health department.
  • If sewage has backed up into the basement, the floor must be cleaned with chlorine solution with ½ a cup of chlorine bleach for each gallon of water that is used to clean the space.
  • After the flood, the septic system must be pumped as soon as possible by pumping both the tank and the lift station, which should remove any silt and debris that might have seeped into the system.
  • Do not compact the soil over the absorption field by driving over it.  Because saturated soil is especially susceptible to compaction, this can reduce the soil absorption field’s ability to absorb water and possibly even a system failure.
  • The septic tank’s manhole cover must be secure, while inspection parts must not be blocked and/or damaged by anything.
  • After inspecting of the vegetation over the septic tank and the absorption field, be sure to repair any erosion damage, as well as to sod or reseed any damaged areas, in order to provide a grass covering for the field.  

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