Snowmelt and Your Septic System: What You Should Know

Posted on: March 21st, 2017 by mike No Comments

As the days get longer and the weather starts to warm, the snow that’s been sitting on the ground will thankfully start to melt away. While that may be good news for those who hate the winter and are eager to enjoy spring, it is important to keep in mind that snowmelt can cause problems for your septic system if it leads to saturated soil conditions.

Septic systems work by absorption and evaporation. Subsequently, when the ground is completely saturated with water — whether that is from melted snow or excessive rain — the effluent has nowhere to go. With heavy use of the tank, this will only make the situation worse. In extreme cases, the excess water may even enter your septic tank if the snowmelt causes groundwater to rise to such an extent that your septic tank becomes immersed. In this case, wastewater can be pushed back through your pipes and up into your toilets, showers, and sinks. This backup of wastewater is a health concern. If it causes anything to overflow, it can actually damage your walls, floors, and furnishings.

If you do notice that snowmelt is placing stress on your septic system, there are several things to do. First and foremost, try to reduce your use of the septic system by limiting the number of times you flush your toilet, run the dishwasher, and do laundry. Once the snowmelt has stopped and the water table levels have fallen, you may also want to consider getting the system professionally pumped. This is because, with excess water in the tank, the floating scum layer is often raised to the top of the tank, adhering to the sides even after the water level has receded. This can plug up inlets, outlets, and vents, which can cause problems in the long term.

In conclusion, it is important to pay extra attention to your septic tank as the snow starts to melt. In most cases, melting snow shouldn’t cause any substantial issues. However, in some cases, particularly if a large amount snow melts at a fast rate, it can mean trouble. Your best bet is to monitor the situation and call a professional for help if you think that snowmelt may be placing stress on your system.