Keeping Your Septic System Working Well

Keeping Your Septic System Working Well

When cold weather quickly approaches the last thing any one wants to think about is the problems we had last winter with individual sewage treatment systems. It was reported that many septic systems froze up last winter for a number of reasons. Lack of snow cover was the main reason. Without snow cover the frost can go deep.

Why did some systems freeze? There are different reasons:

  1. some systems did not have enough ground cover,
  2. some systems were new and the ground itself was not packed tight,
  3. older systems may have settled, allowing for insufficient slope on the pipe and
  4. still other systems froze when homeowners were gone for a winter vacation.

There are four basic locations where a septic system can freeze:

  1. The collection pipe from the house to the tank. Be sure there are no leaks along this pipe.
  2. The septic tank itself: Once this freezes, it should be properly inspected by a professional to determine possible damage.
  3. The pipe from the tank to the distribution area: This should be inspected for possible leaks or improper settling.
  4. The soil treatment area: With either a mound system or a trench system, if the ground has developed soggy areas, the system may not work properly.

Here is what every homeowner should be doing: Let the grass covering the system remain a little longer in fall of the year. This will trap more snow and provide a warmer blanket for the system. If possible, cover the pipe and the tank with leaves or straw for additional insulation. Most important is to perform proper maintenance on the whole system. Fix any leaking faucets or fixtures. Have the system cleaned or pumped at least every two or three years.

If further information is needed, please contact the local University of Minnesota extension Service at 1 800 525 8636