3 Winter Sewage Maintenance Tips

3 Winter Sewage Maintenance Tips

Photo By aRTI01 at Shutterstock

Sewage systems tend to be out of sight, so many people consider them out of mind as well. However, seasonal weather changes can have a significant effect on some sewage systems. If your septic tank freezes, it can result in costly repairs or even require a full replacement, but some basic winter weather management strategies can help prevent that from happening.

Preventative Measures

If you have a septic tank and live in a cold-weather climate, you may need to plan in advance. Consider planting hardy, deep-rooted plants around your tank. The vegetation itself helps provide cover, and the roots provide some insulation. Just be a little cautious in what you plant, as some plants are known to break through hard surfaces. Choose ones with more gentle root systems that grow around existing structures.

Hiring a plumbing service to check for leaks can also be a good idea. Even tiny, unnoticeable leaks can cause pipes and reservoir tanks to crack and break. Make sure your sewage system is in good order before frigid temperatures set in.

While your professional plumber is checking things out, ask if he or she can assess the insulation. One of the biggest winter plumbing problems is burst pipes, and that can affect sewage systems as well.

It’s also a good idea to have your plumbing service make sure that your tank isn’t in need of pumping. Pumping a septic system is never fun, but it can be significantly more difficult and expensive during freezing temperatures due to the hard ground and related issues. If your system needs pumping, try to do so before winter weather hits.

Keep It Flowing

A healthy sewage system needs to be flowing freely on both ends, so take particular care with your drainage system during cold weather. Before winter sets in, start paying attention to your drains. Make sure they’re draining quickly and cleanly. If they aren’t, consider calling your local plumbing service to check out the problem. Even if they are, be a little more cautious about your maintenance. Try to avoid washing down things known to clog drains, such as oils, fats and hair. A sink strainer is a good idea year-round, but it’s an especially good idea during the winter.

Drainage is also important, however. Most homeowners don’t have to worry about this too much, as normal drain usage should keep your sewage pipes flowing well. However, if you have an outbuilding with plumbing or just work occasionally at a freestanding office building, this is something to be concerned about. Lack of use can cause ice to build up in pipes and cause them to crack or burst. Sometimes keeping a tiny trickle of water going can prevent future issues.

However, some systems don’t do well with that approach. People using septic systems should be particularly cautious about using the trickle approach, since some septic systems can overflow when dealing with an increased water load. It’s always a good idea to talk to a qualified plumbing service before deciding how to handle winter weather.

Septic tank owners also need to be careful if they’re entertaining guests, since many guests don’t understand the quirks that septic systems can entail. If you own a home or business with a septic tank, be sure your guests understand what can and cannot be flushed or washed down the drain, and make sure to stagger your major water usage so you don’t overload your tank all at once.

In addition, simply keeping your home or building warm can help prevent issues. Many plumbing services suggest keeping the temperature at a minimum of 60 degrees Fahrenheit all the time.


If you’re dealing with extreme temperatures, you can take advantage of natural and man-made insulation.

Snowfall always makes people fret, but it can be a good thing. Light, fluffy snow acts as an insulation layer by itself, which helps preserve natural heat and keep your sewage system warm. It’s often a good idea to leave snowfall on top of your pipes and septic tank.

However, compacted snow is a different story. It usually lacks the insulating properties of non-compacted snow, so there isn’t much benefit to leaving it on top of your system. In areas with heavy snowfall, it can also accumulate weight which can put added strain on your septic system.

It’s best to either keep people, animals and equipment away from your sewage system during the winter to avoid creating compacted snow. If that’s impossible or if weather conditions create compaction, consider clearing the snow away from your sewage system.

If you live in a drier climate or if you have to clear away snow, you may want to consider adding some man-made insulation. Some home improvement stores and plumbing services sell insulating covers designed for use over sewage pipes and septic tanks. While these shouldn’t generally be treated as a first-line defense, they can add a little extra insulation during extreme weather or while repairs are being arranged.

Be Prepared

Even if you follow these tips, sometimes frigid temperatures and extreme weather conditions can cause problems. It’s a good idea to have an emergency plumbing service on call just in case. In addition to preventative care and routine maintenance, the qualified staff at bluefrog Plumbing + Drain can help winterize your system or respond quickly in emergency situations. Whether you’re looking to make sure you’re prepared for seasonal changes, wanting a quick check to identify problems, or in urgent need of an emergency repair, give us a call today at 1-844-HOP-TO-IT to find an experienced and qualified local technician. You can also use our handy online scheduling tool by clicking here. Call us today for all your plumbing service needs!

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