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If there’s one thing that we get a lot of in the UK, it's rain. Although it’s not often torrential, if you have a septic tank system, you need to be aware of how heavy rain could impact it. There are two main ways that heavy rain can affect a septic system.
Generally speaking, septic tanks are placed below the ground. If the land around it gets sodden, it can cause the tank to dislodge and potentially become disconnected from the pipes that would normally connect to it. This can result in damage to the area around it and potential leakage into the surrounding land.
The other effect of heavy rain on a septic system is that it can inhibit drainage. If the system can’t effectively drain due to sodden land, the water can back up into your toilets and drains, causing failure in the system, and potentially damage and contamination to the local environment.
There are ways, however, that you can help to reduce the potential for these hazards, before heavy rain, during it, and after it.
What to do before heavy rain
Prevention is better than cure as they say, so being prepared for heavy rain is the best way to reduce the chance of any problems.
The most important thing that you can do to prepare your system for heavy rain is to ensure that it is in good working order beforehand and regularly cleaned and emptied. This not only means that it is less likely to have problems if it rains heavily but also it is easier to fix if there are problems.
If you have a rainwater harvesting system or gutters that collect the rain, make sure that this water won’t run into the septic tank drainage area – or potentially overflow into this area.
You should also be careful to make sure that there is no excess pressure put on this land – through driving on it or putting heavy objects on it, for example. This pressure can compact the land, making it less able to absorb the water that is draining from the wastewater system.
What to do during heavy rain
The most important thing that you can do to protect your septic system during heavy rain is to be aware of the signs that there is a problem and reduce the amount of water that you are putting into it.
Signs that your septic system is struggling include:
- Water pooling in your drainage area
- Slow draining of sinks and toilets
- Strange noises in your pipes
- Water backing up in the basement or drains low down in the building
If you notice any of these signs, try to limit your use of water – leave the laundry for after the rain and leave the shower for today, for example.
What to do after heavy rain
If you think that any damage has been done to your septic system during the rain, it is important that you get it checked out and fixed if needed. By leaving it, you will likely encounter problems later on, or next time it rains, enhancing the damage, and, inevitably, being more expensive to put right.
How this can affect your septic system
The main way that heavy rain can damage your septic system is through its potential inability to drain properly. This can cause blockages and backup in the system, which in turn can cause failure, damage, and environmental harm.