Prevent Septic System Freezing
What Can You Do to Prevent Your Septic System From Freezing in the Future?
Here are some precautions if you have had a past problem or are concerned about having a future problem. It is not necessary to do all of these, but you may pick and choose based on your situation:
1. Place a layer of mulch (8-12 inches) over the pipes, tank and soil treatment system to provide extra insulation. This mulch could be straw, leaves, hay or any other loose material that will not compact and stay in place..
2. Let the grass in your lawn get a little longer in the late summer/fall over the tank and soil treatment area. This will provide extra insulation and help hold any snow that may fall.
3. Use water; the warmer the better! The Onsite Sewage Treatment Program is usually an advocate of water conservation, but if freezing is a concern, increasing low use to a normal water use can help the system. This includes spreading out your laundry schedule to possibly doing one warm/hot load per day, using your dishwasher and maybe even taking a hot bath. DO NOT leave water running all the time, as this will hydraulically overload the system.
4. If you know you are going to be gone for an extended period, plan accordingly. This could include having someone use sufficient quantities of water in the home regularly or pumping out your tank before leaving. If you live in an area with a high water table, you should only pump out the tank if the tank was designed for high water table conditions.
If a tank is left full for several winter months, the sewage will get very cold in shallow tanks and can even freeze. If you then return home before temperatures start to rise, the effluent leaving the tank will be cold. By starting with an empty tank, you can then start fresh with warm effluent. If you use a cabin on a limited basis during the winter months, this may be a good idea as well.