Protect Septic Tanks With These Tips From St. Louis County
Any way you look at it, it's been an abnormal winter so far - with a (very) noticeable lack of snow cover on the ground. So far our temperatures haven't been extremely cold, but for sure the single-digit temps that we have experienced haven't been kind to the frost line.
It's that lack of snow cover - at this stage of the season - that has St. Louis County officials urging rural property owners to take the necessary precautions to insulate and protect their septic systems. A little bit of maintenance now can prevent major - and expensive - problems later this winter.
St. Louis County's Environmental Services Department recommends the following steps that can be taken right now:
- Add a layer of mulch (8-12 inches preferably) over pipes, tanks, and the soil treatment area. Hay and straw make excellent mulch material.
- Use normal amounts of water - the warmer the better. Spread out laundry schedules to one warm/hot load per day.
- Don't leave water running to prevent freezing. A slow trickle could freeze and a steady stream could overload the septic system.
- If have to be gone from your property for an extended period, enlist the help of someone to visit your home and use hot water regularly.
- Re-route the drip water from high-efficiency furnaces and heaters. This slow drip can freeze in the pipes. Route this clean water into the footing drain sump or into a bucket.
- Fix any leaky plumbing. Again, small trickles of water going into the septic system can freeze as thin ice layers, which eventually closes off the pipe.
- Keep all vehicles (including ATV and snowmobiles) off of the septic system. It's also a good idea to avoid foot traffic over the system.
- Make sure all risers, inspection pipes, and manholes have tightly-sealed covers. Adding insulation to these areas is always a good idea. Check for cracks.
- Consider installing a septic system heater.
If you find your septic system frozen or you note seepage or ponding of sewage, immediately contact a licenses ISTS pumper or installer or call the St. Louis County Environmental Services office for more information: 1-800-450-9278.
The county also has septic system maintenance information available on their website. Click here for details.