With the Fall in full swing, the Water North Coalition encourages residents to think ahead to prevent septic issues during winter.
Frozen Tank Components
When frost or snow gets deep into the components of your septic system, it can freeze these components, or even the entire system. When these components are frozen, it will slow down the metabolic rate of anaerobic bacteria in your septic tank, meaning that waste will not be able to be broken down. Fortunately, this problem can be easily avoided. Provide your septic system with an insulating cover or blanket to keep it warm during the colder months. Vegetation around your tank, or even adding straw, can help shield it from the cold as well. Running your water and using your septic system every day can also help reduce the risk of freezing.
Compacted Snow and Soil
When you drive over snow with your car or snow plow, it can compact the snow above your tank or drain field. These actions combined with cold temperatures can make the soil above your tank and in your drain field compact and dense. When the soil above your septic tank compacts, it will be less effective at insulating your tank, leading to a frozen system. When the soil in your drain field compacts, wastewater will not be properly filtered and drained. To avoid these issues, avoid driving over these parts of your lawn.
Improperly Functioning Pipes
When your pipes have leaks or clogs, they can often lead to improper drainage. Leaks during the cold can also cause water to freeze, which will damage your septic system further. Clogs can cause wastewater to accumulate in your pipes, with cold causing the wastewater to freeze over. Frozen wastewater can lead to damage of your system and can also contaminate your drinking water. In order to avoid these issues, fix leaky pipes before the cold sets in and be sure to address and clogs or leaks as soon as you notice them to avoid allowing these problems to get more severe.
Difficulty Pumping Your Tank
During the winter, it can be much more difficult to pump your septic tank. The hard, frozen ground combined with snow on your lawn makes digging into your yard to reach your septic tank difficult. It is not impossible to perform maintenance during the winter, but it is much more difficult and should be avoided when possible. In order to avoid these issues, get your septic tank pumped if you know it’s getting full. An early pumping before the ground is frozen will decrease the likelihood of necessary maintenance during the winter.
Preventing Lines from Freezing – Seasonal Cottages
If your cottage is going to be closed up for the winter it is best to shut off the water supply to the house and drain the lines completely. To do this drain the water pump then let it run for a few seconds to remove any water from the lines. Inside the house leave all of the taps open. Drain your hot water tank and pressure tank, flush all of the toilets, and check that any water in flexible lines has been drained. Using antifreeze in your home system over the winter is not recommended because of the harmful effect on the anaerobic bacteria in the tank.