A septic tank is an important component of the septic system. Its function is to collect all waste water by holding it in the tank long enough for solids and liquids to separate. The remaining layers of sludge and scum that cannot be broken down stay inside the tank until they’re eventually pumped out. Together with its other components, the septic system functions as a cleaner and sanitizer by preventing toxic wastewater from leaking into your living environment.
In the winter, your septic system may suffer damage caused by freezing temperatures. Some of these conditions include:
1. Lack of cover. Any septic system requires an insulating cover or blanket to trap heat inside the system and prevent it from freezing inside, especially when snow falls on top.
2. Snow compaction. Vehicles driving over a septic tank compact snow and push it deeper into the system.
3. Long intervals of disuse. Waste water that doesn’t regularly enter the septic tank may cause the system to freeze over time.
4. Not enough plant cover. Vegetative cover above helps insulate a system and prevents snow buildup.
5. Plumbing leaks. Small amounts of water entering the septic system could eventually freeze it.
6. Poor pipe drainage. Fluid in pipes that are deteriorated (or poorly installed) can accumulate in one side, where the liquid may freeze.
7. Waterlogged system. Frozen water prevents the next batch of waste water from being treated.
8. Trapped cold air. Lack of protection from snow (or plant growth above the system) will keep cold air trapped within the system and help with freezing.
During the winter, a septic tank runs the risk of freezing, causing several problems like improper treatment of waste water. To prevent your septic system from freezing, here are a few preventive measures to take:
1. Regularly pump your septic system. Get the system regularly pumped out every 3-5 years, preferably before winter.
2. Remove trees or hardwood plants on top of the septic system. Roots of trees and hardwood plants can penetrate the system and interfere with the treatment of wastewater.
3. Observe proper waste management. Toilets and drains are not meant as a disposal system for non-biodegradable materials and grease.
Use insulated pipes. Prevent water from freezing and affecting your system by providing proper insulation for pipes.
4. Avoid strong chemicals. Harsh chemicals used for toilet cleaning may affect the waste waster treatment process. Use eco-friendly materials to prevent damage.
5. Call a professional plumbing company. Professional plumbers who are experienced in septic tank maintenance and repair can address the root cause of any problem and employ preventive measures to keep your septic tank working throughout the winter.