Three Essential Steps In Preparing Your Onsite Septic System For The Winter

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Extreme cold weather can bring lots of septic problems. For example, if an onsite septic system freezes, it can stop working, back up into your house and necessitate expensive repairs. Therefore, it is important to take precautionary steps so that this doesn't happen. Here are some helpful measures:

Insulate the Whole System

The most important step is to insulate not only the pipes, but the whole system that includes the pipes, drain field and tank. There are different methods of achieving this such as:

  • Covering the sides and top of the tank with an insulating layer of expanded polystyrene
  • Landscaping the ground over the system with vegetative cover such as grass
  • Spreading a layer of mulch (such as hay and straw) over the system

Use a combination of these methods for maximum insulation. For example, if you don't have vegetative cover, then you can insulate the system with expanded polystyrene and then cover the whole ground above it with mulch.

Don't Compact the Insulation

Apart from the above insulating measures, you can also keep it efficient by preventing frost from getting deep into the soil. The best way of doing this is to avoid any action that would compact the insulating cover, be it snow, soil or mulch. The more compacted the cover is, the more it will allow frost to go deeper into the soil and (possibly) reach the tank.

Therefore, avoid:

  • Walking over the system
  • Driving automobiles over the grounds
  • Having animal traffic over the septic ground

Maintain it and Keep it Running

A septic system that is not being used is more likely to freeze than one that is running. There are several reasons for this. For example:

  • If some of your plumbing fixtures are leaking, then they will send trickles of water into the pipes, and this water may freeze and close the pipes.
  • Keeping the system running, especially with regular uses of warm water, maintains its temperature above freezing points. Therefore, take a warm bath, use the dishwasher and run your laundry at different times of the day to keep the system warm.
  • The more sewage there is in the system, the more heat is given off as the effluent decomposes.

If your system is already frozen, then call a septic technician (such as one from Roto-Rooter Plumbing & Drain Service) to unfreeze it fast and prevent further damages. These professionals have things like tank heaters and high-pressure jetters that they use to repair frozen septic systems.

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