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How Septic Tank Failure Can Cause Flooding


Septic tank flood damage can cause dangerous sewage water to back up into your home, posing a serious health threat. This is why it is so important to quickly and properly handle a septic tank flooded basement. If you’re wondering what causes septic tank system failures, here’s some important information you should know.

septic tank flooded basement


Causes of Septic Tank Failure


Oversaturation is one of the septic system failure signs. This can be a result of dripping faucets, running commodes, and malfunctioning water softeners. These problems put extra water into the septic system, which can be flooded. Overuse of the system by visitors or occupants can also overload the system.

Blocked Pipes

When pipes are blocked, this can prevent the septic system drainfield from functioning properly. This can be caused by tree roots that prevent the effluent from percolating into the soil or sludge buildup, which can clog the drainfield pipes.

Crushing Damage

Accidental crushing damage can ruin pipes and compact the soil, leading to damage to the drainfield. This can occur if a heavy item like a vehicle, horse, or permanent structure sits on top of the pipes. It is important to not build structures over a septic system and warn any visitors about not driving over the areas where the pipes are.

Biomat Buildup

Another common reason for septic system failure is biomat buildup. Biomat is a term that refers to the sludge-like buildup of black material that can clog anything it comes in contact with. This material is extremely stubborn, so as soon as the first toilet is flushed, the septic system begins to deteriorate. Generally speaking, septic systems last longer when there is less waste flushed down, but a system that is used often will eventually fail. At 50% clogging, the tile bed will begin to blow out, causing effluent to leak onto the surface. You will notice black-coloured water leaking out onto the soil and a foul smell. The only way to repair this is to install a new system.

Poor Installation and Maintenance

A poorly designed septic system will inevitably break down. It must be designed with adequate space and have suitable soil. There are specific space requirements that are determined by the amount of sewage that will flow into the system and by the soil. The site conditions of the drainfield should also be considered before installation. Even properly designed septic systems can cause problems due to improper construction and installation. If they are installed in soil that is too wet, the soil is more compact and can prevent wastewater from flowing into the underlying soil for dispersal and treatment.

Prevention Tips for Septic Tank Flooding

Excessive Water Use

A great way to prevent septic tank flooding is to space out your use of water for long periods. Septic systems are designed for a specific wastewater flow rate based on the number of bedrooms in the home. If this rate is surpassed, this excess water can back up into the house or flood the yard.

Divert Floodwater from Your Home

Septic tank systems can also flood from the outside, usually because of rain and flood water. Or, your home may be an issue as water runs off the roof and flows into the area. You can divert this runoff by using a gutter system that drains into a buried pipe. This pipe can carry the water away from the drain field so that it empties in a drainage culvert or a garden bed.

Repair Failing Systems

If the septic system is damaged, improperly maintained, or poorly designed, you should make sure that it is quickly repaired, especially before the rainy and snowy seasons. Any failure, regardless of its cause, can be a nuisance, and can even become a public health hazard. Septic wastewater can also degrade the environment. You should contact your local environmental health department if you are dealing with water damage from a septic system, and contact a professional restoration team to resolve the issue.

Maintain Tank Regularly

Regular maintenance is the best way to avoid septic tank flooding. You should have annual inspections of your system and make sure that it is processing waste properly to prevent flooding. Inspections can catch issues early on so that repair work does not cost you an arm and a leg. You may also need periodic pumping to remove the sludge; otherwise it can back up into your home and cause a lot more problems.

Contact Flood Services Canada for Sewage Backup Cleanup and Restoration in Toronto

If you are looking for professional septic tank backup and cleanup services, there is a team that can help you. Professional remediation services can be used to assess the problem and cause and provide you with effective solutions. When facing any kind of water damage, Flood Services Canada’s quick-response teams serve the Toronto, Oakville, Ajax, Whitby, Georgina, Barrie, Mississauga, and Lakeshore areas. We stand ready to provide 24/7 sewage and flood cleanup services and will use the best techniques, personnel, and technology to ensure your home or business is clean, safe, and dry as soon as possible. Contact us at (416) 302-2107 to learn more about our sewage cleanup services, or use our emergency hotline at (416) 999-3930 to get our rapid-response team deployed to your location.

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Chad Vanvari

Chad Vanvari has over 20 years of experience as a cleaning & restoration professional. He started out in Montreal, establishing a commercial carpet cleaning company in the early 1990’s. By 2001, Chad had relocated to Toronto and now had extensive knowledge and experience in responding to fire/water related emergencies. He has been instrumental in the cleanup of several catastrophic floods. Currently, Chad is the president and owner of Flood Services Canada, a 24/7 emergency service restoration company.