What you should know about having a septic system in the winter

Posted on: 9 August 2016

When you have a septic system, you need to be careful about everything from the pipes to the tank. Not only should you be careful what goes down the drains and have the tank pumped regularly, but, when the temperatures drop in the winter, it also requires some special care and attention. Here are some things to know about having a septic system during the winter season.

The Septic System Can Freeze

The first thing you need to know about a septic system is that it can freeze just like any other plumbing system. If it is the winter time and you aren't home much or you are planning to go on vacation, you need to make sure you winterize the system. This includes turning off the water supply if nobody is going to be at home during this time. This prevents drips through the pipes that could cause that water to freeze, thus leading to cracked pipes. A better option is to have a housesitter or a neighbour turn on the water every day at your home, running warm water through the pipes regularly to keep them from freezing.

You Should Watch Out For Snow and Ice in the Drainfield

Outside your home, close to the septic tank, is your drainfield. This area is where the waste water goes after it separates from solid waste in the septic tank. While snow on a drainfield isn't always a bad thing because it can actually insulate the pipes beneath the ground, too much heavy snow or ice can lead to damage of the piping system. Therefore, remove heavy snow and ice from the drainfield area carefully as needed.

Leaks Need to Be Taken Care of Right Away

Leaks are never a good thing to have in your home, but when your septic system is at risk of freezing in the winter, they can be devastating. One small leak could cause your system to freeze, and pipes will crack and need to be replaced. This is a major repair that takes time and money and might leave you without running water until the repairs have been completed. The best thing you can do is keep a look out for plumbing leaks and get them fixed right away. 

Solid Waste Can Freeze

Finally, if your septic tank is full during the winter, then it needs to be pumped. Solid waste inside the septic tank has the potential to freeze. It is not too big of a deal if it isn't full, but if you are due for having it pumped and cleaned soon, you should probably do it before the temperatures start dropping.