Winter brings festive holiday parties and cozy nights by the fire. However, due to the dropping temperatures and harsh conditions, it also involves some home maintenance responsibilities. Your septic system may be particularly vulnerable to the elements.
Septic Maintenance Tips for Winter
1. Avoid Snow Compaction
Before the snowstorms, spread a thick layer of mulch over the grass above your septic components. Eight to 12 inches of organic mulch will insulate the soil around the tank and drain field, preventing it from freezing and reducing drainage.
You don't have to remove snow from the lawn to keep the septic system running properly. In fact, snowfall can insulate the area, preventing wastewater from freezing. However, compacted snow can cause temperatures to drop quickly, resulting in frozen pipes. Avoid walking over or parking heavy vehicles in a snow-covered yard.
2. Use Hot Water
When water freezes, it expands, resulting in burst pipes and a failing septic system. Since standing liquid is more vulnerable to freezing than flowing water, use your home's fixtures frequently to avoid plumbing disasters this winter. A hot shower or cycle of laundry will keep the septic system's pipes warm.
If there are certain fixtures that you don't use often, like guest bathroom toilets and sinks, run them occasionally to keep the water flowing. However, avoid overloading the system by staggering these routine flushes. For example, use the guest room sink and toilet on one day and the powder room's fixtures on the next.
3. Insulate Vulnerable Pipes
Since you can't always be home to use the plumbing, protect any vulnerable septic components with insulation. Exterior fixtures, exposed pipes, and the underground tank should be surrounded with foam insulation to avoid freezing.
A plumbing professional can ensure these areas are properly protected from the elements. They'll also address any cracks or corrosion to prevent existing problems from worsening in the winter's harsh conditions. Preparing your septic and plumbing components this season is particularly important if you plan to take a family vacation and won't be home for an extended period.