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Preparing Your Septic Before Leaving for Winter

Winter Septic Pumping

Essential Tips for Winterizing Your Septic System

As the winter season approaches, bringing along its chilling temperatures and heavy snowfall, it's crucial to take certain precautions around the house. One often overlooked area of preparation is your septic system, especially if you're planning to leave town for an extended period.

Ignoring the needs of your septic system in the face of freezing temperatures could lead to substantial damage and costly repairs. Exposed components of the system could freeze, resulting in a backup of sewage in your home or even a total system failure. And, if you're out of town when this happens, the damage is prone to get worse as the problem goes unrepaired until you get home.

Winterizing your septic system is a crucial step in protecting your home, ensuring a worry-free winter, and avoiding unnecessary expenditure on emergency repairs. Please keep reading for our top three tips on winterizing your septic system.

#1: Schedule a Professional Inspection

If you do nothing else, schedule a professional septic inspection before you leave town for the winter.

A professional septic inspection, particularly from the competent team at Wind River Environmental, is a vital preventive measure against potential septic system issues that can lead to significant damage and costly repairs. These inspections are designed to identify and rectify any problems before they escalate, providing essential reassurance while you're away.

Common problems that can be detected during a professional septic inspection include:

  • Blockages: An inspection can reveal any blockages in the system that can lead to a backup of sewage in your home.
  • Leaks: Any leaks in the system can be detected and fixed before they lead to more severe issues, such as groundwater contamination.
  • Structural issues: Structural problems, like cracks in the septic tank, can be identified early, preventing system failure.
  • Insufficient insulation: In winter temperatures, proper insulation is key to preventing exposed parts of your septic system from freezing.

Moreover, scheduling a professional inspection offers an excellent opportunity to engage experts' assistance in winterizing your septic system. With our team's extensive experience and knowledge, we can guide you through the best practices to protect your septic system during the winter months.

#2: Pump Your Septic Tank

Pumping your septic tank is an integral part of maintaining your septic system's overall health and functionality. It helps prevent the buildup of solids, which can lead to blockages and system failure. Regular pumping also allows for inspecting the system components and identifying potential issues before they escalate.

Typically, a well-maintained septic tank should be pumped every 1-3 years, depending on the size of the tank, the number of occupants in your home, and the volume of wastewater generated. However, the exact frequency can vary, and a professional can help determine the best schedule for your specific circumstance.

Pumping your septic tank before winter sets in is highly advised. By pumping your tank before winter, you can ensure your system is ready to take on harsh weather conditions and reduce the risk of backups or other problems. Just be sure to pump the system with enough time prior to leaving that you allow the tank to fill with liquids because the main reason for pumping is removing the solids - but a healthy tank will always have liquids it is processing.

Remember, preventative maintenance, like pumping your septic tank, is a small investment in preventing significant expenses due to potential septic system failure.

#3: Protect Your Septic System from Freezing

Protecting your septic system from freezing temperatures can be tricky, especially because most of your system should be below the freeze line.  Components like clean-outs or improperly installed risers could present risks, but the important items to inspect are the items that are not below the freeze line or are not properly sealed. But don't worry! We are here to help! Here are some steps you can take to protect your septic system this winter.

Insulate Exposed Components of Your System

This is one of the most important steps in preventing your system from freezing. You can add more soil to the top of your septic tank or cover the ground with a layer of mulch, straw, or insulation blankets. This extra layer can help trap heat in the soil and prevent the system from freezing. Consult with the Wind River Environmental team on how best to go about this.

Keep Water Moving

Systems that are in regular use are less likely to freeze because water movement prevents ice accumulation. If you're away during the winter, consider having a friend or neighbor periodically run hot water in your home to maintain some level of activity in the system.  If you have had issues with slow drains in the past, it may be worth the money to ensure your drains have been cleared of any hair, grease, fats or oils that could solidify into blockages with an extended period of non-usage.

Ensure Proper Drainage

Ensure all water drains away from your septic system and not towards it. This includes water from roof gutters, sump pumps, and hillside runoff. Extra water can saturate the soil around your septic system, making it more susceptible to freezing as well as reduce the ability for the soil to absorb the effluent that your system releases after processing.

Avoid Compacting the Soil

Avoid driving or parking vehicles on and around your septic system, which can compact the soil and reduce its insulating effect.  If you are escaping bad weather and there is a strong chance that utility trucks may have to use your property to restore power or other services, it may be worth marking the area with caution tape and stakes to prevent drivers from accidentally crushing parts of your system by driving their heavy equipment over your system while you are away.

Following these steps can significantly reduce the risk of your septic system freezing in the winter months. These preventive measures can save you from the headaches and costs associated with a frozen septic system.

Have more questions about prepping your septic system for winter? Contact us today to schedule an inspection before you leave town.

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