Hurricane season is here and starting in a big way with Harvey and Irma. As Floridians, we seem to have hurricane preparations down to a science, but is your septic system being overlooked? What happens when heavy rain and septic systems meet? Learn more about what you can do for your septic system before, during, and after heavy rains.

Can Heavy Rain Backup My Septic Tank?

Yes, heavy rains, tropical storms, and hurricanes can put a lot of stress on a home septic system. As the ground surrounding your tank and drainfield absorbs the excess water, it makes it harder for water to flow out of your system. Eventually, causing backups or halting the process completely. This can lead to untreated sewage escaping into the groundwater and local streams.

heavy rain septic tank

Before the Storm

Preparation is key. Whether it is boarding up your windows or keeping the trees surrounding your home healthy, septic system preparation is imperative.

  • If your system is full, have it pumped before the rainy season or storm.
  • Keep rain gutters clean and clear to allow water passage around your drainfield and prevent puddles.
  • As always, avoid driving or parking on the drainfield and system as the weight compacts the soil, allowing less water to be absorbed.  This is especially true when the soil is wet from heavy rains.
  • Check covers and inspection ports to ensure a tight seal.
  • If anything looks concerning, have professionals come for an inspection and go over how to prepare your system.

Riding It Out

Once the storm and rain come, there is not much to do while you wait it out. The biggest tip is to use household water as little as possible. This means no laundry, no dishwasher and no long showers until the storm passes. By putting in the least amount of work and water into the system, you are allowing it to process the extra groundwater without overloading the system.

After A Heavy Rain Storm

You’ve made it! While you may be assessing any property damage, it is important to keep a few things in mind as well as inspect your septic system.

  • If water drains slowly or backs ups in pipes after heavy rain the septic system could be flooded.  This is one of the few times when it’s best to avoid septic tank pumping. You’ll need to wait until the flood waters have receded from the area or the tank will just flood again.  You also want to avoid getting debris in the tank or making the tank lighter than the surrounding saturated soil to prevent the tank from trying to “float” out of the ground.
  • Schedule an inspection. If you suspect damage from debris, flooding or have a general concern for your system schedule an inspection.
  • Keep children and animals out of flood waters. Not only can they be swift moving at times, they also may be contaminated with untreated sewage water.
  • If you drink from a well, take proper precautions, like boiling, to ensure the water is safe to drink. Pay attention to any boil orders for your county and surrounding area.
  • Be kind! Your septic system also just weathered the storm. Avoid heavy use for the following days to allow it to finish processing the abundance of water.

Can Heavy Rain Backup My Septic System Video


The most important thing is preparation. While we have no control over the weather, you can control if your septic system is ready to handle extra rain or a hurricane. Once the weather arrives, reduce your use to keep the stress on your septic system down. As always, for any questions or to schedule an inspection call Advanced Septic Services at 352.242.6100.