November 26, 2019

How to Maintain Your Septic Tank in the Winter

Ace Acme Septic Services - Household Septic System 2
Winter is the last time you want your septic tank to fail. No one wants to deal with unpleasant waste management issues at any time of year, but especially not when it’s cold and wet. What’s more, fixing a failed system in cold weather can be more expensive than in other seasons.

That’s why septic tank maintenance is all the more important in the winter. Every homeowner with a septic tank should make sure they are aware of wintertime septic risks and know how to avoid them.

Are Septic Tanks Affected by Cold Weather?

The short answer is yes, septic tanks can be affected by cold weather. It’s possible for septic tanks and main pipelines to freeze in the winter months, depending on the depth of the pipe and the depth of frost. If your tank is filled almost to capacity and the effluent freezes, your pipes could back up and burst.

Many homeowners are surprised to find out that it’s less likely for septic tanks to freeze when there’s snow on the ground. Snow can help insulate the soil, especially if it’s not compacted.

How Do I Reduce the Chance of My Septic Tank Freezing?

There’s not much you can do to prevent cold weather, short of moving to an area with warmer winters! However, there are some simple actions you can take to reduce the risk of your septic tank freezing regardless of the weather.

The best preventative action you can take is to get basic septic tank maintenance and repairs done before the cold winter months. Most septic tanks need to be cleaned and pumped every three years, although you may need services more frequently depending on your household size and your specific tank. While you can get your septic tank pumped in cold weather, it may be more difficult and expensive due to factors like snow or frozen ground.

Septic tanks and main lines are most likely to freeze when you aren’t using your system regularly. If you leave your home unoccupied for a long weekend or extended time period, it may help to have a neighbor come in and flush all the toilets. Alternately, you might choose to save that long weekend trip for warmer weather to lower the risk of your septic tank freezing.

If there is snow on the ground, try to avoid driving any equipment over the septic system. Driving will put excess pressure on the soil and compact the snow, sending frost deeper into the ground. It’s generally a bad idea to drive over a septic system anyway.

Be careful to avoid trickles from leaky showerheads and sinks. Small trickles can easily freeze within your pipes, causing the pipe itself to freeze solid and cause a backup.

What Should I Do If My Septic Tank Freezes?

If your tank freezes, the first thing you should do is find a trustworthy septic services company and give them a call. A septic specialist can find where any leaks are coming from, diagnose the problem, and fix it so you don’t end up with the same issue next winter.

Don’t try to fix a frozen septic tank if you aren’t a septic specialist. You should especially avoid DIY tips that involve adding antifreeze or salt, or running water continuously to try to unfreeze the system. These “fixes” may cause even more septic tank problems.

We do not advise using additives without consulting your local septic specialist or plumber. Some additives may do more harm than good, even if they are advertised as a septic tank cleaner.

A Family-Owned Septic Company

Ace Acme is a family-owned septic company serving Snohomish, Skagit, Island, and North King Counties. We provide septic pumping services, do repairs, perform inspections, design and install drain fields, and do sewer hookups. With three generations of experience, we have the skills to do the job right.

We’ll take care of your septic system as quickly as possible, using only the best equipment for each job.

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