Seemingly-daily downpours have caused flooding throughout the Lowcountry, swamping plumbers in the area with calls about drainage problems and overflowing septic tanks.
“I’ve got more calls,” said Mike Mixson of Mixson’s Value Plumbing. Mixson, a third-generation master plumber who does most of his work in Charleston and Summerville, said the unusually high rain totals have exacerbated areas that already had drainage issues.
“The biggest challenge for me is in low-lying areas. Homes are saturated underneath, making it impossible to get underneath and do any work.”
George Apostolov, of All Star Services Plumbing in Summerville, said he’s gotten 20 or more calls in the past week alone asking for a French drain, which is a pipe with holes in it placed under the soil, allowing for water to flow into and through the pipe. It is used to force water away from a specific area.
Vince Crosby with American Environmental, a plumbing company in Walterboro, said heavy rain presents many problems with septic tanks.
“Every time it rains they fill up, and sewage spills back into people’s homes,” he said.
Crosby said that recently, he has been “working all day long,” and that many of the calls he has received have come from homeowners facing septic-tank problems.
Harold Groves, owner of Groves Plumbing, also in Walterboro, said he had a quarter-inch of rain water in his own house just last week.
“I don’t know how much rain we’ve had in this area. I’ve never seen the water like this,” he said.
Groves said the ground in the region is extremely saturated, to the point where any rain sparks at least some degree of flooding.
“You can’t get under houses because of electrical wires and standing water,” a lesson he learned the hard way three years ago.
Groves was underneath a house working with pipes. There was a small amount of standing water, and when he reached to grab one piece of pipe, he received a strong electric shock.
Since then, he won’t go underneath a house if standing water is present.
Groves said he has seen the damage flooding can have on a home, and knows a homeowner’s options are limited.
“I feel for the public, I really do.”
As far as any precautionary measures homeowners can take, Apostolov admitted there weren’t many, but gave a few tips to avoid rain-related damage.
He recommended removing any areas of stagnant water around the home, and keeping roofs clean to prevent the buildup of debris, which can catch and hold water, leading to roof damage.