How to Winterize a Septic System

A woman looking intently at a kitchen sink faucet.

Homeowners should take care of their septic tanks all year long. However, it’s important to recognize that your septic system might require some extra care and attention when the cold weather rolls around.

Fortunately, we’re here to help you learn how to winterize a septic system! We’ve put together a checklist of steps you can take to ensure your septic system doesn’t freeze or encounter any winter weather-related problems.

Does Cold Weather Affect Septic Systems?

The short answer to this question is “yes.” As you probably know, there are bacteria and enzymes in your septic tank that are necessary for breaking down waste. Unfortunately, these microbes work much slower during the winter months than they do in the warmer seasons like summer and spring.

The freezing temperatures can also wreak havoc on your septic system in other ways. A lack of insulation, maintenance, regular use, and several other factors can lead to your septic system freezing.

How to Keep a Septic System From Freezing

Now that you know frigid conditions pose a threat to your septic system, you’re probably wondering what you can do to prevent this problem from occurring in the first place. Fortunately, learning how to keep a septic system from freezing doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process. Let’s go over a step-by-step checklist below.

  1. Schedule a Professional Inspection

When learning how to winterize a septic system, it’s important to remember that septic specialists are your best friend! It’s an excellent idea to schedule a septic system inspection before the cold weather arrives. During an inspection, an expert will check for any potential problems, such as damage, to ensure your system is sufficiently prepared for the winter months ahead.

  1. Make Sure There’s Enough Insulation

When you had your septic system installed, there was a good chance that the sewage piping was encased in a layer of insulation. Although this insulation is incredibly important and helpful, especially if you live in a colder climate, you should still consider finding other ways to safeguard your septic system against potential freezing.

How can you add insulation to your septic system? Believe it or not, there are many simple steps you can take. For example, if it has snowed recently where you live, ensure that there is at least a little bit of snow cover on top of the tank and drain field. This snow cover can further insulate the system. However, you’ll want to avoid having any compacted snow on top of the tank, as this can make it challenging to access the tank and may lead to freezing.

You’ll also want to consider keeping the grass longer above the drain field and tank, as grass acts as an insulator. Consider adding leaves and mulch to these areas as well for the same reason.

If you’re worried about potential freezing, you might also be tempted to add antifreeze. Unfortunately, most antifreeze isn’t septic safe. The good news is that there are many other ways to prevent freezing — and we’ll discuss them in more detail below.

  1. Use Hot Water Regularly

When learning how to keep a septic system from freezing, you might be surprised to discover that a little effort goes a long way. For example, using hot water on a regular basis — whether you’re taking a shower or running a load of laundry — can help protect your septic system from the cold temperatures outside your door.

In short, it’s a good idea to use warm or hot water wherever and whenever you can. Of course, it’s also understandable if you’re worried about the cost of your utility bills. If you’re hesitant to run the washing machine with hot water, consider opting for warm water instead.

  1. Stop Any Dripping Water

If you’re concerned about the water pipes in your house freezing, you might have heard people talking about letting the faucets throughout your home drip overnight. Although this can be a helpful tip for some homeowners, you should avoid following it if you have a septic system. Why? This steady trickle of water can lead to an ice clog forming in the septic system.

If you want to learn how to keep a septic system from freezing, consider performing an inspection on the plumbing fixtures throughout your home. Keep a lookout for any leaky faucets or showerheads and fix them ASAP to prevent freezing.

Do you have a high-efficiency furnace? As you may know, high-efficiency furnaces create condensation, and this moisture needs to be drained out of the system. You’ll want to ensure the condensation doesn’t drain into the septic system. Instead, consider diverting this condensation to a floor drain.

When it comes down to it, you’ll want to stop any and all dripping water. Don’t run water on a steady trickle to prevent freezing water pipes, and certainly address any plumbing leaks you encounter as soon as possible.

  1. Consider Draining the Water Line

If you’re planning to be away from home for an extended period of time, you should consider shutting off the water and draining the water line. You’ll need to shut off the water supply, then open all the taps and leave them open. These taps include sink and shower faucets.

  1. Pump the Tank if Necessary

Are you planning to leave your home for a few weeks — or maybe the entire winter? Although we discussed how to drain your home’s water line, you should also consider having your septic system pumped. It’s important to pump the septic system before the cold weather settles in for the season, so don’t wait until the last minute to do so. If you want to know how to winterize a septic system, it’s also crucial to realize that promptness and preparation are key!

Avoid Septic System Woes With Help From Tidy Tank Septic Service!

Freezing is a real possibility for homeowners that live in colder climates. Now that you know how to winterize a septic system, turn to Tidy Tank Septic Service for all of your inspection, maintenance, and pumping needs! Our septic tank specialists proudly serve the residents of Crystal Lake, IL, and the surrounding communities.
We offer a broad range of services, including septic system repairs and septic jetting. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with our team of experts!