Flooding can wreak havoc on septic systems

When most property owners envision problems resulting from flooding, they see water-logged basements. But flooding may produce even more widespread, and difficult to address, complications for homeowners.

Although residents of the Tri-State area were probably grateful that the high threat of snow never materialized during the region's first true winter weather test earlier this week, the storm still dumped a record amount of rainfall on the Washington, D.C. area.

Had the storm produced snowfall, meteorologists predict that about two to three feet would have fallen in the area. As it were, homeowners in northern Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. are probably not accustomed to such heavy rainfalls in December – this month is already shaping up to be one of the wettest on record.

"Even if we don't have another drop of precipitation all month, we'll still end up above normal," said meteorologist Dan Pydynowski of WTOP, Washington, D.C.'s CBS affiliate. "A very wet day, very impressive."

Residents faced a winter weather advisory during the storm, so many were aware of the possibility of localized flooding. In these areas, experts feared that the ground may have already reached its saturation point, when it is unable to absorb any more water.

After a significant rainfall, pooling water can interfere with the functions of a septic system, perhaps even contributing to backups. At this point, homeowners should limit water usage and contact a certified home inspection company that can assess the septic system.

This professional can conduct a non-invasive septic dye test to help determine where specifically a problem is occurring. Once the issues is identified, a home inspector can consult with the homeowner to determine the best course of action for fixing the problem, as well as future maintenance practices that can allay future malfunctions.