Get Your Septic System Ready for Winter

We have had some deceptively hot days this week, but don’t be fooled.  Autumn is almost here and winter will follow. 

While it’s still pleasant to be outdoors, it’s a great time to get things done around the house.  While you’re checking gutters and windows, make sure not to forget your septic system.  The last thing you want is for your septic system to freeze, so here are some things to watch for:

Lack of insulation.  Believe it or not, plants, dirt/mulch and even snow will help to insulate your system if the drain field has enough coverage.  These coverings trap warmer air over the area and provide natural insulation.   Be careful though, because these very same things can also become problematic.  If the snow or dirt becomes compacted (from cars and bikes, heavy steppers, lawn debris) the warmer air is forced out and insulation protection is gone.   Take care to keep the area free of such hazards.

In the north, where freezing temperatures can arrive before snowfall, mulching the area is a good idea.  Adding a layer of mulch 8-12 inches deep will provide a good blanket of insulation for your system. 

Check your covers.  Any tank or pipe covers should be free of cracks or splits.  Not only is this dangerous for foot traffic, but it allows ice and cold air and water to get into your system.  Not a good idea.

Keep it running.  If you are going to be away for a while during the winter, have somebody come in and use some warm water every now and then.  Maybe do a load of laundry.  It’s important to keep the pipes clear and flowing well.

Pump it out.  Rule number 1, of course.  If you have not had your system pumped in a while, this is the ideal time.  Big jobs are even worse in inclement weather.

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