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Summer can be full of nice, sunny weather, vacations, cook-outs and a variety of festivities. In Baldwin County and many similar climates, summer can also mean a large amount of rainfall. Since septic systems can get stressed under certain conditions, such as heavy rain and extra water usage with house guests, septic systems tend to need more attention during the summer. Here are some tips to prevent septic system problems during summer showers or when planning summertime activities.

Rain Events:

According to AffordablePlumbing.com, “The problem is that after a significant amount of rainfall, water seeps deep into the ground, causing the water table to elevate. If the water table rises too high, it can actually saturate your septic system’s leach field. This can cause contaminants to back up into the septic tank itself. It not only can be a hassle, but also could cause your entire septic system to fail in an extreme case.

It’s important to note that if you are having septic tank problems, the solution isn’t necessarily to drain the tank. That’s because when a septic tank situated in saturated soil is emptied, it becomes much lighter and subsequently buoyant.”

How to prevent major septic system problems during heavy rainfall:

  1. Use less water in your home/ building so that you don’t possibly add more stress to the septic system
  2. Divert water away from septic system, including all gutter drain run-off and sump pump discharge

AffordablePlumbing.com also suggests, “If you do suspect some kind of issue, the sooner you address it, the better. The bottom line is that if you’re experiencing rain-related septic tank problems, your best bet is to get an expert in to address the situation before it gets any worse.”

Additional Guests:

If you’re hosting a party or having house guests stay for awhile, having your septic tank pumped beforehand could prevent septic backups or overflows caused by the extra water usage. Depending on the amount of people, you may want to consider renting a portable toilet or bathroom trailer to avoid the septic system altogether. In addition, it is crucial to keep cars off of the septic system since driving or parking over it can crush the drainfield and/ or break the septic tank lid.

As FloHawks.com mentions, “The worst type of party foul is a leaky, smelly mess in your yard.”

Landscaping:

Many property owners like to spruce up their lawns during the summer months, but if you have a septic system, be sure to follow these recommendations from FloHawks.com:

“Be mindful of any new plantings. Grass is the ideal cover for drain fields. You can also plant other very shallow-rooted plants or flowers. However keep in mind that if you don’t have risers installed, you will need to dig up the ground to access the tanks for inspection and pumping—generally every 3 to 5 years.

Avoid deep rooted plants, trees, shrubs, and vegetables over your system. As a general rule, trees and large shrubs should be kept at least 30 feet away from your drain field (depending on the root structure and soil type). Do not fertilize over the drain field.”

Ongoing maintenance is key.

Being proactive by maintaining your septic system all year round can reduce or even eliminate hassle during different circumstances, like the ones listed above. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides detailed instructions on caring for septic systems here.