cedar rapids water damage

Learn more about how your septic system works

Curious how your home drain system works? We reached out to Iowa Plumbing Pros, a local Cedar Rapids plumber to get some tips and insight into how septic systems work and the complications of keeping them running year round.

Your homes septic system is a vital part of your homes waste water drainage system. The homes septic system protects the investment you have made in your home. Septic systems when properly installed, designed and maintained will provide excellent long term care of household waste water.

Sadly millions of Americans neglect their household septic systems. Septic systems that are not maintained regularly can easily break down causing you to need to replace the entire system, costing you thousands of dollars in the long term. When your septic system fails it can contaminate ground water, whats worse is if that groundwater source is drinking water. Failing septic systems can contaminate the area with virus and bacteria such as E-colli. As a home owner you are the one responsible for maintaining and caring for your septic system.

Septic systems should be inspected at least every 2 to 3 years. You should also have your septic system pumped out periodically to remove debris, gunk and help it’s overall performance.

Many people do not even know or understand fully what a septic system is nor how it works. Your homes septic system is built around 4 key pieces, a pipe leading out from your home which carries away waste water, the septic tank itself, a drain-field and then the soil underneath the drain field. Underneath the soil lays your ground water. Your waste water travels from the pipe to your septic tank.

Your septic tamk is buried in the ground and is a watertight container. Solid waste turns into sludge inside of this, and oil and grease will float up to the surface forming scum. Solid wastes partially decompose inside of the septic tank. The tank is specially shaped to prevent sludge and scum from ever leaving your tank and entering into the drainage field, and screens are also often incorporated to prevent this as well. Old tanks are hard to find on your property while newer built tanks have risers with lids at ground level to allow ease of location, cleaning and inspection of the septic system.

Your septic system will need to be drained, ideally every year to prevent the build up of sludge and scum. This is done by pumping out the tank. A plumber or a water damage restoration expert can easily provide this service for you, and indeed it is one of the least desirable home maintenance jobs to attempt to do yourself, mostly due to the incredible stench that this job entails. Regular inspections of your septic system will also help you to keep your septic system in proper working order.

Your drain-field is an important part of your septic system. The septic system will drain its waste water into your drain-field. The drain-field acts to filter any escaping solid waste and to provide slow seepage of this waste water into the soil below. Every time new waste water enters the septic tank old waste water is pushed out into your drainage field. Problems can occur when the drain-field is too overloaded with liquids. When the drain-field is overloaded it causes raw sewage to flow into the ground surface and can create backups in your household plumbing fixtures. Some people and indeed some states require by law that a reserve drain-field be put into place should the main drain-field fail.

The soil below your drainfield is the last part of your septic system. The soil acts to remove any harmful viruses, bacteria, environmental contaminants and nutrients which are absorbed into the soil. The soil acts as a buffer before any of this waste water can reach pure ground water. The soil in effect purifies the waste water. You need specific types of soil in place below your drainfield to ensure proper decontamination.

Heavy snowfall this winter could have created roof damage

The United States has experienced one of the harshest winters in recent history. Major snowstorm after snowstorm barreled across many parts of the US, leaving behind tangled traffic, downed power lines and flooding. The most recent large storms that bore down on the Eastern US caused damage to hundreds of roofs throughout the region. Homeowners as well as businesses were left to face the task of repairing the damage left behind.

If your home or business has suffered roof damage by a storm, the first thing to do is to contact your insurance company. It is the insurance adjuster’s job to assess the damage and your responsibility to hire a roofing contractor to do the repairs. Deductibles and insurance quotes are between you and the insurance company and the contractor does not need to see the quote before giving you an estimate.

When you have roof damage, it is always a good idea to have more than one contractor look at your roof damage and give you an estimate. You should expect to receive a detailed estimate which includes an itemized list of materials that will be used as well as the labor costs. Be sure also to as how long the work is expected to take. It can be a bit hard form contractors to tell you exactly how long the work will take, but you should be able to get a general idea of the schedule once the materials have been ordered and delivered to the site.

While you are gathering your estimates, it is a good idea to do a bit of research concerning the contractors. It is imperative that the roofing contractor you hire has experience in the area. Call any references given and ask friends and co-workers if they are familiar with the company’s reputation and work. Confirm that the contractor has a license so that building codes are requirements are adhered to.

If the storm as resulted in a portion of your roof collapsing, then the structural damage and water damage may be extensive. Ask the contractor what exactly he plans to do about the affected beams and supporting joints that need to be repaired. Heavy snow is potentially very dangerous and the weight put on weak roofs often results in cracking and weakening of the surrounding area. It is also very important to thoroughly dry and/or replace wet insulation in attics and walls as mold can easily and quickly begin to grow. Mold that has not been dealt with early on can result in often serious health problems to inhabitants.

Common causes and responses to basement flooding

Any home can fall victim to basement flooding whether it’s old or new. It is important to know how to respond if your basement floods and understand the cause to prevent it from happening again.  Basements are prone to flooding because of various reasons such as location and structural features.

Basements often flood from rainstorms because the ground becomes too saturated with water and forces its way through basement walls by cracks in the floors, walls, or at joints where basement walls meet.  Also, over time your home settles and shifts forming cracks and gaps making your home vulnerable to leaks. Make sure there isn’t excessive amount of water around your home that could make its way into your basement. Some wall of waterproofing your basement walls can be expensive and requires excavation and a coating of the walls. This could range in to several thousands of dollars. Water could also leak into your home from backup from a sewer system. This could cause serious flooding and also be a health hazard if rainwater mixes with sewage water. To prevent this you could install a sump pump. A sump pump is a device that routes unwanted water away from your home through the homes main water drainage systems. It works by taking the standing water in your basement and filling up the sump pump pit. When the water reaches a certain level the sump pump kicks on pumping water into the drainage systems directly outdoors away from the foundation of the your home.  Sump pumps are effective devices, but could cost several hundred dollars to install.  A less expensive way to waterproof your home is natural drainage system.  You can do this by constructing an underground drainage system using perforated ridged plastic tubes. Map out a trench about a foot deep going preferably towards a storm sewer. Make sure the trench is on a downward slope so the water can run freely. Lay an inch or two of gravel in the trench then place the piping perforated side face down. Then cover the piping with more gravel so the dirt can’t clog the holes. Finally top off the trench with a few inches of dirt and sod.

Here are some steps to follow if you fall victim to a flooded basement.  If the flooding isn’t too bad and you can manage it yourself, first put on rubber gloves and begin soaking up water with towels. The water could contain bacteria from sewage so you want to make sure you throw the towels away after using them. Let the basement air out for a couple days. Using fans can help speed up the process. Next, you’re going to want to disinfect walls and floors to insure no mold or fungus grow. You can do this by using a mixture of bleach and water or any other strong disinfectant products. If you have wood trim or flooring treat it with disinfectant such as creosote. If small area of flooring or trim seem to be rotting you can fill the areas with commercial wood filler from a home improvement store, but if rotting is too extensive the wood should be replaced.  Finally make sure any leaking or broken pipes are fixed. Check washing machine hose and replace any outside faucets that could cause water damage.

cedar rapids water damage