When your home is cooled, winter air brings colder temperatures and deep snow. These changes can impact your septic system and create cold weather septic issues that harm your home or business. The freezing weather brought upon by winter can be quite damaging to your septic system.
Failure to prepare correctly or perform an inspection could lead to expensive repairs. Septic systems are harder to work on during the winter months due to compacted snow and soil.
Septic tanks rely on the seepage of warmed groundwater to maintain the desired conditions for optimum use. If the groundwater freezes in colder climates, you must pump the septic tank to provide warmth to prevent the tank from freezing. If the pump is not available when the tank needs pumping, freezing can occur.
Whenever the septic tank is frozen, the waste stops breaking down quickly, which causes clogging and a putrid smell to form. The components most likely to freeze are the pipes, the tank, and the drain field.
To help prevent a frozen septic system, you should consider covering your septic components with an insulated blanket to help keep them warm. You should also be using your septic system regularly as the increased water flow keeps it from freezing.
Homes with septic systems need the proper care and maintenance to prevent waste obstructions and ensure that the system is functioning correctly. The temperature in the summer and winter can mean everything for this type of system and can impact how well it performs over time.
Pipes that have leaks or clogs are one misstep away from breaking and causing all sorts of problems. To avoid these expensive repairs, you should work to address its issues as soon as possible. Pipes with cracks allow cold air to pass through, meaning that the water will freeze over. On the other hand, lines with clogs allow a large amount of water to build up, stopping the flow of water, producing ice in the pipes.
As mentioned before, irregular usage of your septic system can cause all sorts of problems to occur, especially in the winter. Using your system too much can overwork it, causing flooding or freezing problems. You should refrain from using too many sources of flow such as the washing machine, sink, and shower all simultaneously.
Failure to do the opposite can also cause cold weather septic issues. Underusing your water causes it to turn to ice because the water stops flowing regularly. This problem most commonly occurs in a home that only has one or two people. If it’s been a long time since you last used your system, then you should try running the sink or flushing the toilet to help its flow.
What Can You Do to Protect Against Cold Weather Septic Issues?
Protect your septic system from the cold weather by employing the following tips:
1. Winterize your pipes.
There is a specific type of pipe used to drain water from a septic tank, and it must be winterized each year. Turn off the water and drain all pipes. Check to make sure there are no leaks or drips because even small amounts of water can freeze and cause damage.
After turning off the water, drain the pump by running it for a few moments to clear out any water, open faucets and leave them open, and disconnect the hoses to appliances, such as the washing machine and dishwasher.
You should not add antifreeze to your plumbing, but you can add RV antifreeze to the traps in the shower, sink drains, etc. Remember to flush the lines in the spring when all of the hoses are reconnected.
2. Inspect your furnace.
If you leave a high-efficiency furnace on for the winter, make sure there is no water draining into the septic system. If there is, you should reroute the drain hose into a large bucket or some other drain that is not connected to the septic system.
3. Consider pumping your septic tank.
If the septic system is used again before the soil temperature rises, consider having your septic tank pumped before winter. Pumping your tank will allow the effluent leaving the septic tank to be warm, which is desirable for the soil treatment area or leach field.
4. Protect the soil treatment area.
As much as possible, attempt to insulate your soil treatment area. Stop mowing the grass covering the site in the early fall. The longer grass captures fallen snow that acts as insulation over the field. Do not park cars on the drainfield. Consider putting several inches of mulch or straw over the drainfield to help insulate the tank and pipes in the drainfield.
5. Schedule routine septic maintenance.
The best thing you can do to prepare your septic system for winter is to have it professionally inspected. It is a good rule of thumb to check your system every time the season changes.