Niagara County Health Department

Septic Tank Systems During Power Outages or Floods

POWER OUTAGES:
 
Approximately 10 % of the septic systems in Niagara County rely on power to function properly.

Reduce your water use to a minimum, especially if the system has a pump. If all the reserve storage inside the chamber is used, the waste pipes in your home can back-up. There is usually a one-day supply of emergency storage space available in the pump tank.
Turn off the pump at the control panel.

WARNING: If the power outage caused the pump to malfunction, do not enter the pump chamber. Gases inside pump chambers are toxic and can be fatal. It is best to call a certified septic system installer for service or repair.
After power is restored, switch the pump on and let it run for a maximum of 5 minutes, and then turn it off. Repeat this manual switching every 6 hours until the effluent drops to the "OFF" level and the pump turns off by itself. If only a small amount of water was used, the pump may automatically turn off during the first switching.  This process allows for a gradual dosing to the absorption field.

CAUTION: When repairing the pump, always turn off the power supply at the circuit breaker and unplug all power cord before handling the pump or floats.

FLOODS:

Septic tank systems that have been flooded should not be used.
After waters have receded, check the system for broken lines or sewage surfacing.
Correct any problems before using the system.
After the water has receded, switch the pump on and let it run for a maximum of 5 minutes, and then turn it off. Repeat this manual switching every 6 hours until the effluent drops to the "OFF" level and the pump turns off by itself. If only a small amount of water was used, the pump may automatically turn off during the first switching.

SEE EMERGENCY SEWAGE DISPOSAL SECTION IF YOUR SEPTIC SYSTEM CANNOT BE USED

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