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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Reduce Chances of Frozen Septic Systems - Part Two

With colder temperatures upon us and little or no snow cover to insulate septic systems, your system may need some help to keep from freezing. “Place a layer of mulch (8-12 inches) over the pipes, tank and soil treatment system to provide extra insulation. This mulch could be straw, leaves, hay or any other loose material that will not compact and will stay in place.”

These tips on keeping your septic system from freezing, are provided by the Crow Wing County Extension Service. This is the first of three articles on the subject, so check back here over the next two days for more valuable and timely information.


What Should You Do If Your Onsite System Freezes

 

If your septic system is frozen, your first step is to call an onsite professional. Unless the cause of freezing is corrected the system will refreeze next winter. If you have a pump and hear water constantly running in a pump tank (a possible indication of a frozen system) shut off your pump and call an onsite professional. This will likely be a pumper or an installer who can help determine the cause of the problem and offer solutions. The University of Minnesota Onsite Program web site is one place to go to locate a professional – http://www.septic.umn.edu. Many pumpers and installers have devices called steamers and high-pressure jetters to try to unfreeze system piping. Other methods used to help fix a freezing problem include adding heat tape and tank heaters. Cameras can be sent down the pipes to determine where the freezing is occurring and if repairs are needed. If the soil treatment system is full of ice, or there is evidence of leaking, there is no need to thaw the lines leading to the treatment area, as it cannot accept liquid until the area is thawed in spring.

If it is not feasible to correct the problem or equipment is not available in your area, the only other option is to use the septic tank(s) in the system as a holding tank until the system thaws naturally. You will need to contact a pumper who will empty out the tanks when they are full on a regular basis .This can be very costly, especially with normal volumes of water use (50 to 75 gallons per person per day). Reduce water use by limiting the number of toilet flushes, taking short showers, using the dishwasher at full capacity, limiting running water to get hot or cold and doing laundry at a laundromat. It is smart to find the cause of the freezing problem so that it can be addressed in the spring, preventing future freeze-ups. Then preventative measures can be added to the system such as adding insulation around the tank and pipes or adding additional cover.

There are many misconceptions about how to deal with a frozen onsite system.

  • Do NOT add antifreeze, salt or a septic system additive into the system.
  • Do NOT pump sewage onto the ground surface.
  • Do NOT start a fire over the system to attempt to thaw it out.
  • Do NOT run water continually to try to thaw system.



Contributed by David Ellingson a Real Estate professional at RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty in Nisswa. Call our office at 218-963-9554 and talk to David about your Real Estate needs, or email him at davide@uslink.net for more information!