Developed by UF/IFAS Extension regional specialized water resources agents Yilin Zhuang and Andrea Albertin
During floods or heavy rains, the soil around a septic tank and drainfield can get waterlogged, and wastewater from the septic system can’t drain through the soil.
Help avoid major problems with your system by following these guidelines when flooding occurs:
- Relieve pressure on the septic system by using it less or not at all until floodwaters recede and the soil has drained.
- Clean up floodwater in your house without dumping it into sinks or the toilet. This would just send it to the septic system.
- Avoid digging around the septic tank and drainfield while the soil is soggy, and don’t drive vehicles over the drainfield. These activities will compact the soil and water won’t be able to drain properly.
- Don’t open or pump out the septic tank if the soil is still flooded. Silt and mud can get into the tank and this can end up clogging the pipes in your drainfield. Pumping under these conditions can cause the tank to pop out of the ground.
If you think your system has been damaged, have the tank inspected and serviced by a professional.
Finally, if your household relies on private well water for home consumption, it is important to have your water tested for bacteria to ensure it is safe to use. Contact your local county health department for information on how to have your water tested.
By taking special care with your septic system after flooding, you can contribute to the health of your household, community and the environment.
A downloadable, pre-recorded PSA is available here.