Prepare Your Septic System for Winter

Although fall can be hectic, it is not the time to sideline your septic system. Managing your septic system is a year-round task, but maintenance can prove more difficult in the winter months. Preparing your septic system for the winter will save headaches, protect against early system failure, and prevent a messy springtime thaw.

The best maintenance during any season is regular septic tank pumping. Your septic tank should be cleaned out every 3 to 5 years. However, it can be tricky to locate a septic tank when snow is deep. Frozen ground is also problematic when trying to dig to get to the tank. Pumping in the fall is a much better option.

Dripping faucets or leaky fixtures are not good in any season. Not only does this waste water, but in winter it can lead to frozen pipes, causing problems for your septic system and plumbing. Fixing leaks and conserving water are good ideas for any septic system owner, especially as the weather turns frigid.

Insulation is key to protecting the septic drain field from the winter freeze. Liquids from the septic tank flow to the drain field, where treatment occurs. The soil and microbes that live in the soil break down the bacteria and nutrients in septic waste. If the pipes freeze, water cannot properly filter through the drain field and can cause backing up of waste in the home, ponding of wastewater in the yard, or bacteria entering groundwater. Growing the grass longer and adding mulch will help safeguard the field from the winter freeze.

Whether we like it or not, winter is just around the corner. It is not too late to take the steps necessary to protect your septic system from the cold. For more information, or to learn more about the Shiawassee Conservation District’s Septic System Assistance Program, contact us today!

The Septic System Assistance Program is a part of a larger effort by the Conservation District to address nonpoint source pollution in the Maple River Watershed. Funding for this program comes from a Conservation District grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Nonpoint Source Program by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.