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Winter Maintenance for Septic Tanks

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In the winter months, septic tanks are vulnerable to damages caused by lower temperatures and excessive snow. The biggest concerns being snow build up and lack of protection from cold temperatures. If your septic tank is located in an area where vehicles can drive over it, watch out for compacted snow that can push it deeper into the system. Fluid that lingers in poorly installed or deteriorating pipes, plumbing leaks, and long periods without using your septic system can all cause it to freeze. 

Your septic system may suffer damages if you do not provide adequate cover like an insulating cover/ blanket. These will help to trap heat inside the system and prevent it from freezing inside. Other ways to help prevent your septic system from freezing are to regularly pump your system (every 3-5 years) before winter, don't dispose of inappropriate waste down toilets or drains, use insulated pipes, and remove trees or plants with strong root systems from on top of your septic system to prevent root interference with the system.

Things to keep in mind when working in extreme cold:

  • Wind Speed: high wind speeds can create a wind chill effect which makes it feel a lot colder than the reported temperature states.
  • Humidity: humidity will cause heat to be conducted from the body much faster than if you are working in dry air. 
  • Hypothermia: without proper protection, hypothermia can become a concern when the air temperature drops below -23 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Frostbite: exposed skin can freeze in 5-10 minutes when temperatures reach -40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Ice & Snow: ice can freeze your equipment and the weight of snow can collapse structures you may be working in or under.

Always bring extra clothing and try to find a place to warm up when working in extremely frigid conditions. Be sure to remove excess snow from work areas and store your equipment under tarps or in heated areas.