Why Septic Systems Need Electricity & What to Do in a Power Outage


Not all septic systems need electricity to operate, but for those that do, an electrical blackout can trigger multiple problems. Below is an overview of why a septic system may need electricity and what you can do if the power goes out.

The Need for Electricity

Here are the top two reasons your septic system needs electricity.

Septic Pump: To understand the need for the septic pump, you need to understand how the septic system works. Wastes from the house flow into the septic system, where septic bacteria act on the wastes and separate them into different forms; this is the waste treatment method. The solid wastes settle to the bottom, the liquid wastes go above the solid wastes, and the soil scum floats at the top.

The liquid waste passes through the septic outlets into the drain field, where they percolate into the soil. The septic liquid can flow out of the tank by the action of gravity if the topography allows it. This can only be the case if the septic drain field lies downfield from the septic tank. Otherwise, you need a way to force the liquid out of the tank, and this is where the septic pump comes in. The septic pump requires electricity to pump liquid wastes out of the tank and into the drain field.

Septic Alarm: Septic systems that utilize septic pumps also have septic alarm systems. The septic alarm, which also uses electricity, sounds an alarm if the liquid within the tank rises above a dangerous limit. This usually happens if the septic pump has malfunctioned or if the septic tank is overwhelmed with the wastes it is receiving. 

Effects of Power Outage

The main thing is that septic liquid won't flow out of the tank when the power is out, and the septic tank will be overwhelmed. This means waste can leak out of the septic pipes on your property and flood your yard. Drains connected to the septic system, including the septic drain, can back up into the house. If your septic system was designed properly and has been properly maintained, then you will only experience these problems due to a prolonged power outage.

What to Do

The first thing is to locate the alarm and silence it (there is usually a switch for that). Your next action depends on whether the pump problem is due to a power outage or a localized problem on your property. If you are dealing with a septic problem, such as a broken pump, then you need to call a septic technician. Otherwise, just wait for the power to come back or get a backup power system. In both cases, you need to reduce the use of water in the house so that you don't overwhelm the septic system even further.

If you need further assistance, contact services such as Autry's Backhoe & Septic Service.

About Me

Finding Issues With Your Septic Tank

Do you know how to find and address issues with your septic system? Neither did I until about three years ago. My wife and I had purchased this lovely home in the middle of the mountains, and it relied on an aged underground septic system. We struggled with problems like overflowing toilets and bad smells for a few months until we realized that it could be due to the septic tank. Fortunately, a friend of ours came out and showed us how to identify problems and get them addressed. I want to teach everyone a thing or two about septic tanks, so that you don't struggle like I did.

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