Winterizing a septic system
As much as we hate to admit it, winter is on its way. If you own a home with a private sanitary system, there are things that you can do to help protect your system over the winter:
- Stop mowing the grass over the drain field in fall so it can grow stronger to trap more snow.
- Add a layer of mulch (8-12 inches) over the pipes, tank and soil treatment area to provide insulation.
- If you live in an area without a natural windbreak, you may want to consider installing a snow fence to help keep the mulch in place and to trap snow.
- Spread out your laundry schedule to one warm/hot load per day, year around. Use normal amounts of water—the warmer the better.
- Don’t leave water running all the time to prevent freezing. A slow trickle could freeze, while a steady stream could overload the system with water.
- Don’t add antifreeze to the system.
- If you will be gone for more than a day or two, have someone visit and use water regularly. If you will be gone for an extended period (weeks or months), pumping the tank before leaving may be the best option. But consult with a professional before having a tank pumped.
- Fix any leaky plumbing.
- Keep all vehicles (including ATV’s and snowmobiles) and high-traffic people or animal activities off the system, all year.
- Make sure all risers, inspection pipes and manholes have tight covers. Adding insulation is a good idea. Unsecured covers represent a grave danger to children.
- If any seeping or ponding occurs, contact an onsite professional.
A septic system is a large investment. Like a roof or any mechanical part of your home, it does have finite lifespan. Safeguard your investment and extend the life of your system by taking simple steps to protect it.
Adapted from the Wisconsin Department of Commerce website.
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