The winter months are hard on your septic system—and other plumbing systems—but keeping your septic system safe from freezing is especially important to avoid backups and damage to your tank that could become costly to fix. Here are some easy ways to make sure your septic system is prepared for the winter.
Fix Any Leaks
Leaks that are outside of your house don't usually pose as much of a threat for damage, but they're even more important to take care of once winter hits because outdoor pipes and equipment are even more vulnerable to the elements. Leaks not only allow things to get out but can also provide an easy access point for ice, which can clog up the entire pipe and cause more damage to your pipes when the ice expands.
It can sometimes be hard to tell if you have a leak in an underground pipe, so some things to look out for are constant patches of damp soil or places where plants or weeds grow heavily; leaking pipes make for damp soil, which attract growth. You may also notice a foul odor. If you notice any of these signs, have a plumber investigate quickly.
Insulate Your Pipes
If you find that your underground pipes freeze often, you can try to insulate them. There are a few different ways you can do this with varying degrees of difficulty and expense. If you want something less expensive, you can add ground cover or mulch to the soil above your septic tank and pipe. This helps keep the frost out of the soil, which can help keep the pipes from freezing.
If you want to do something that lasts longer but is a little more expensive in turn, you can have the pipes insulated or buy new pipes with insulation built in. Alternatively, you can add insulation to the surrounding soil. If you do this, be careful which type of insulation you use; insulation that isn't meant for use in soil may simply absorb water and be completely ineffective, or even make the problem worse. Urethane foam is a good material to start with.
Use Hydrojets, Not Salt or Chemicals
If your pipes do get clogged with ice, it may be tempting to use salt or chemicals to break it down, but this can have a negative impact on the biology of your tank, so fight frozen water with more water. If you have a hydrojet or pressure washer, you can use this to break up the ice if the clog is in a position that lets you do so. This is a safe way to get rid of ice in your underground pipes, and you can usually purchase nozzles for your pressure washer that give you more flexibility. So before you call for repairs, see what you can do on your own.
If you don't have a pressure washer, you might be able to make do with a regular hose if your water pressure is good. It will take longer, but it could also work. Just be cautious; if it doesn't work within a few minutes, all that water could back up into your home, so don't keep it going too long.
For help preparing your septic system for winter, contact a local septic service like AAA Pumping Service.