Septic systems are complex, so they require regular maintenance. Unfortunately, many homeowners forget about them until they malfunction. Winter is an especially bad time for a septic system to stop working. Nevertheless, you can avoid cold weather disasters by following these simple tips.
Inspect the System
The cycle of freezing and thawing can make telltale problems worse. You can look for some problems on your own. Inspect the tank for cracks and other issues. Cracks or holes in the tank cover are particularly problematic as a secure lid prevents debris and small animals from entering. Also, check for how well the lid fits because tightness keeps internal heat trapped to help break down solid waste and treat wastewater. Get a professional inspection at least every three years.
Inspect the Drainage Field
Look for surfacing effluent, wet areas, or spongy soil, which can indicate problems elsewhere in the system. Ensure the drainage field has a sufficient vegetative cover, especially if you have recently installed the septic system. Allow grass to grow around the drainage field to provide insulation and retain snow effectively. For newer systems, spread straw or mulch over the area until sufficient vegetation grows. More vegetation equals better protection.
Keep Vehicles Away From the Drainage Field
Never park any vehicles on or near the drainage field. The weight of cars, trucks, and SUVs will compact the soil and transfer cold to the system in winter, increasing the chances of winter-related problems.
Winterize the Tank and Pipes
This step is essential if your property is a vacation home that you only use sparingly during the winter. Schedule pumping prior to the first frost to allow easy access to the tank and to make sure there are no accumulated solids and grey water that may freeze. Shut off the water main and open all taps, leaving them open to drain completely. After draining, add a septic-safe antifreeze, according to manufacturer recommendations. Provide proper insulation for pipes to lessen the possibility of water freezing inside them during prolonged cold snaps.
Use Your Plumbing System Regularly
The secret to a well-running septic system is regular use of your plumbing. Don’t hesitate to take that long bath or shower in the winter because hot water flowing through the system will prevent it from freezing.
Maintain the Plumbing Inside Your Home
Do you have leaky faucets, toilets, or other plumbing fixtures? If so, have them repaired. Leaky plumbing fixtures can result in ice forming in the pipeline between the house and the septic tank.
The plumbers at Thompson & Thompson are experts in all septic tank and system issues. Contact us today to schedule your septic inspection or repair.